Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-19-2021
MAY 19, 2021 regular meeting
- Public comments
- City manager report
- Clerk of council report
- Police Chief’s report
- Council actions
- Council member comments
Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. Also, present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council and Finance Director Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting lasted one hour and 10 minutes.
Several public comments were submitted by emails.
A new resident on South Taylor questioned why the speed limit on their residential stretch is 35 mph, not 25.
A resident requested that lines on the pickleball court at Denison Park be repainted and cracks fixed. They suggested painting pickle ball lines on underused tennis courts and adding locations at Forest Hills Park because of the volume of players.
A resident said they received no response to posts on the Access Cleveland Heights cell phone app regarding the "dreadful" condition of two nearby homes, including litter and the possibility of attracting rats.
A resident claimed that holding an executive session of council to discuss "sale or lease of real property" is not permitted by state law. [Law Director Hanna responded that under home rule provision of the state constitution, use of executive session for discussion of sale or lease of city-owned property is allowed and supported by case law]. The resident requested a public hearing to allow citizens to be included in the process of the city handing real estate over to developers Flaherty and Collins [for Meadowbrook and Lee].They felt council had abdicated its role by excluding citizens.
A resident asked council to reconsider block parties this summer in view of recent Centers for Disease Control recommendations.
A resident, happy to hear of the minor curfew repeal agreement, asked for a timeline and noted that 93 percent of the citations had gone to Black youth. They criticized the statement that the police department and the CSU Diversity Center undertook the traffic stop analysis of their own accord, adding that it only happened after a February 2020 incident led to community pressure. The email concluded by asking for a Racial Justice Task Force update.
City Manager Niermann O'Neil read a letter from Don King, a Buckingham Condominium resident representing Heights Voices Count, LLC. He asked that the artificial turf dog park at Top of the Hill be moved to allow a promised pocket park public green space. He criticized locating the dog park so near the condominium.
City manager’s report
City staff are working on re-opening protocols for Cumberland Pool, Cain Park, other parks, Community Center activities, and block parties, to be announced by June 1.
Police chief’s report
Chief of Police Annette Mecklenberg said the public comment about the traffic stop analysis was not accurate or fair. The logging and counting of race and gender of motorists only began in 2019, so analysis could not have been performed earlier than 2020.
Recent incidents include:
- Shots were fired May 6 on Belmar causing vehicle damage.
- A vehicle carjacked in the May 7 robbery in the Grandview parking lot was located May 10 in Cleveland; detectives arrested an armed 16-year old, who is now in custody. [Mr. Ungar commended the police and asked the chief where the juvenile was from, where he obtained the gun and ammunition used in his crime, and why he targeted Cleveland Heights. The chief said he was not a resident, and she could only speculate that the gun may have been stolen; the owner will be charged if possible and appropriate.]
- An altercation on Preyer on May 10 resulted in a gunshot wound to the abdomen; the shooter is in custody.
The police department is getting license plate readers.
The Diversity Institute at CSU has completed its work on information from the town hall meetings. This is available on the police page of the city website https://www.clevelandheights.com/1420/Community-Town-Hall-Meetings.
May 26 is the 14th anniversary of the day Officer Jason D. West was shot and killed. There will be an End of Watch ceremony at 3 p.m. that day at the memorial in front of city hall.
- Amended appropriations for the 2021 budget. Director of Finance Himmelein explained these were for leasing a fire truck, buying license plate readers, and repairing a building.
- An agreement for engineering services for the rehabilitation of Coventry Road from Fairhill Road to Euclid Heights Boulevard. Ms. Dunbar commented that this has been years in the making and the actual work will be done in 2022.
Receiving first readings were measures:
- To amend the wage and salary ordinance to incorporate the recent labor agreement with the Cleveland Heights Fire Fighters Association.
- To authorize the city to become Power a Clean Future Ohio Community, adopting a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- To approve the Integrated Overflow Control Master Plan program required to be submitted by June 1, 2021, pursuant to the consent decree between the city, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the State of Ohio. This can be read at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/556/Sewer-Partial-Consent-Decree-Information
Second readings and a vote will take place Monday, May 24.
Council member comments
President Stein assigned concern about the piles of yard waste near the salt dome on city land along Noble Road to Ms. Dunbar and the Municipal Services Committee. He stated the police department deserves better conditions and promised improvement is on the way.
Vice President Seren spoke about money coming to Cleveland Heights from the American Rescue Plan, suggesting a process known as participatory budgeting to involve the community in planning for its use. He stated that the current working conditions in the police department do not meet standards for a safe and healthy workplace. Health and well-being are of paramount importance and updates are needed in police facilities, equipment, and vehicles.
Mr. Cobb stated his Public Safety and Health Committee has sent legislation to repeal the business district youth curfew to the law department for presentation and passage in June. Currently, the police are not enforcing the curfew. The committee is conferring about the many excellent applicants for the Racial Justice Task Force with a commitment to form the task force and to start meeting in June.
Ms. Dunbar spoke about Bike-to-Work Week and Day.
Ms. Hart agreed with other members about the importance of soliciting public input on the best uses of the approximately $39 million coming to the city from the American Rescue Plan. She also spent time "riding along" with police and asked Chief Mecklenberg for her "wish list" of improvements.
Ms. Russell introduced council's concern for the facilities in which police personnel are working and appreciation for their honesty during the time she spent with them. She is extremely concerned about the areas around the salt dome on Noble Road, including the immense pile of yard waste, some of it contaminated. In addition to inhibiting developers in the neighborhood, there have been calls from neighbors. She checked on hauling options and noted that the empty dairy building on the property may need asbestos removal.
Ms. Russell said the all-inclusive playground at Forest Hill Park will be finished this week and that a development contract with Start Right CDC is eagerly awaited.
Mr. Ungar suggested that the planning commission reach out to the community to request suggestions for disbursing American Rescue Plan dollars.
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.