Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-19-2021
APRIL 19, 2021 regular meeting
- Public comments
- Chief of police report
- Council approvals
- Consent agenda
- Council member comments
Present were Council President Jason Stein, Council Vice President Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. This was Mr. Cobb’s first meeting. Also present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council and Finance Director Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna.. The meeting was one hour long.
Four emails were read requesting:
- Fishing at Lower Shaker Lake.
- Placement of three legislative items high priority on the council's agenda: mayoral term limits, continuing discussion of timely appointments to vacant council seats, and creation of ward representation on city council.
- Restoration of a sidewalk block on Bainbridge, dangerously missing since last year's gas line work.
- Placement on the agenda of the park proposal for Meadowbrook and Lee.
Chief of Police report
Chief Annette Mecklenberg reviewed the April 13 town hall forum on recruitment and selection of officers and vehicle pursuits. Fifty-six community members attended. Another forum on April 27 will cover bias-based policing and use of force. These have been announced on the city website, on the police department Facebook page, and with posted flyers at local businesses.
Mr. Ungar asked if the taser/gun confusion that happened in Minnesota could happen in Cleveland Heights and for a description of departmental policies on interference and reporting of excessive use of force. Chief Mecklenberg replied that it could not happen because Cleveland Heights officers have never carried tasers or spray; the baton is their only back-up weapon. The policy on "duty to intercede and report when witnessing another officer using unreasonable force" states an officer shall intervene, prevent, and report such actions. Ms. Russell asked about proposed legislation in the Ohio General Assembly that would make it a felony for citizens to video record police activities. The chief did not know but will look into the proposed legislation (HB 22). Mr. Seren inquired about the records request regarding the traffic stop analysis; this will be discussed at the April 26 Committee of the Whole.
Tim Boland, economic development director, recommended, and council approved, a proposal from Flaherty & Collins/City Architecture for the Cedar/Lee/Meadowbrook Redevelopment project. The proposal is a $50 million investment in the entire site. A second, not recommended, proposal from City Six/Panzika, would split the site and jeopardize completion. Ms. Hart had asked that prevailing wage, local hiring, and robust community engagement provisions be included.
- A First Extension of Development Services Agreement and Project Approval with FutureHeights. The current agreement has expired, this one will be for two years and will not exceed $140,000. Mr. Cobb abstained from the vote as he recently served on the FutureHeights board.
- A limit of 15 percent commission of the purchase price third parties can charge restaurants to deliver orders during dine-in restrictions. Vice President Seren reported that a local restaurant owner had complained about thin profit margins being cut by up to 30 percent with delivery charges. This will protect and support local businesses.
- An amendment to the Fair Practices code to include source of income as a prohibited discriminatory rationale in housing rental.
- Budget amendments to allow carryover to 2021 of Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funds not spent in 2020.
- A Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to receive money from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to cover costs incurred by the city due to the requirements of the act.
Using a consent agenda, council approved an agreement with Cuyahoga County for $400,943 in funding through the HOME Program for the city’s affordable housing programs through April 30, 2023 and awarded CBDG funding to:
- Home Repair Resource Center, $44,00 for its down payment assistance loan program
- Family Connections of Northeast Ohio, $5,000 for its Parent Café Program
- Start Right CDC, $45,000 for its Good Neighbor Home Rehab Program
Council member comments
Regarding extension of the development services agreement, President Stein praised city staff and the FutureHeights CDC for their talent, pure motives, and volunteerism. He emphasized the importance of the most neglected areas of the city. Mr. Seren commended FutureHeights as well, saying that the learning curve has not always been smooth, but there is a net positive to working with a CDC partner.
Ms. Dunbar said the strength of our community is in its dedicated people.
Ms. Russell commented that while she has given FutureHeights some headaches, but she looks forward to working with them more. She praised FutureHeights, Start Right, and the Home Repair Resource Center.
Ms. Russell noted that Senator Sherrod Brown is sending a liaison to the Racial Justice Task Force, the first known senate/city liaison. The task force's work could help the senator's staff craft national legislation.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.
Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/1142/2021-Agendas-and-Minutes
Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClevelandHeightsOH