Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 8-30-2021
AUGUST 30, 2021, Special Meeting
- Public comments
- Council actions
Present were Jason Stein, council president; Kahlil Seren, council vice president; Craig Cobb; Melody Joy Hart; Davida Russell; and Michael N. Ungar. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The public meeting was about one hour and 15 minutes, following an hour-long executive session to consider real estate matters.
Diane Hallum expressed appreciation for her appointment to the Citizens Advisory Committee, saying it has allowed her to identify concerns. She said a city staff member told her the Noble Road area was too far gone to merit Community Development Block Grant funds. She is concerned that FutureHeights has too much control of the Noble Corridor Plan without having the needed expertise.
Fran Mentch, representing People for the Park, spoke about an initiative petition being circulated to create a small park between Meadowbrook and Tullamore in the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development area. The organization will meet Thursday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m., at the Lee Road Library.
A few residents spoke about the NEORSD (Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District) Horseshoe Lake Dam proposal. One claimed a lack of transparency in the public discussion. Another was inclined to agree with the proposal’s research and the fact that the sewer district cannot fund work that does not contribute to flood control.
Tony Cuda criticized the proposed charter amendment concerning council vacancies, saying the 30-day deadline is too short, the language is incomplete, and that turning a decision over to a mayor would circumvent checks and balances.
- Approved the refunding of certain outstanding bonds, with the maximum principal amount of $1,725,000 for Severance Ring Road improvements, to achieve debt service savings.
- Amended the Memorandum of Understanding with Start Right Community Development Corporation to allow 60 additional days to complete a redevelopment plan for new single-family homes on city lots. An amendment proposed by Mr. Ungar to reduce this to 30 days failed, 1 to 5.
- Authorized an agreement with All City Management Services for $180,207 for crossing guards. The school district will reimburse half ($90,103.50).
- Amended the memorandum of understanding with Flaherty and Collins concerning the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development, adding 60 days to develop an agreement.
- Approved, after a lengthy discussion, a proposal by Ms. Russell to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Mr. Ungar voted no, agreeing with the goals of the legislation but claiming that it was piecemeal and did not make sense. Other council members praised Ms. Russell's plan, stressing the long overdue and transformative potential of the funds to correct geographic imbalances in investment and racial equity.
- Agreed to place a charter amendment on the November 2 ballot to establish a timeline for filling council vacancies. Originally, the draft legislation specified a 30-day deadline with the mayor having 10 days to fill the vacancy if council fails to appoint a member. The appointment would be in place until the end of the calendar year with the unexpired term going on the ballot at the next general election that is more than 120 days after the vacancy occurs. After much discussion of the 30-day timeline, council agreed on a compromise of 45 days. Ms. Russell voted yes for the proposed amendment but expressed concern about a mayor appointing a council member. Mr. Ungar voted against the proposed amendment, claiming it was put together too quickly and should be done after careful study by a committee or commission.
- Hired a consultant to help with the Horseshoe Lake decision with Mr. Seren voting no.
A resolution to rename the Recreation Advisory Board the Parks and Recreation Board and to adopt new bylaws received a first reading.
Council passed a consent agenda proclaiming September 2021 as National Preparedness Month and National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and September 10--19, 2021 as Welcoming Week.
Upcoming council meetings include Monday, Sept. 13, Monday Sept. 20 and Thursday, Sept. 30.
Committee of the whole
At the committee of the whole meeting, held prior to the executive session, Mayor David Weiss of Shaker Heights and Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO of the NEORSD, joined council to discuss the Horseshoe Lake Dam. After lengthy discussion, council announced their intent to study the situation and vote on a position at the first October meeting.
Council also discussed the proposed charter amendment regarding council vacancies and heard from Brent E. Lawler, an expert from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
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