Hope for the beleaguered north

More than 150 people attended a meeting on April 29 regarding problems in the neighborhoods of Cleveland Heights’s north side. The meeting took place at the Martin G. Lentz Police Academy on Noble Road. Mayor Dennis Wilcox opened the meeting by expressing the city’s sincere desire to hear from neighborhood residents. Five of his six city council colleagues also attended, as did several city officials. Tanisha Briley, city manager, took comments from the audience and ran the meeting.

As a neighborhood homeowner since 1999, and someone who has witnessed with alarm what seems to be the north side’s accelerating decline in recent years, I found myself agreeing with most—not all—of the commentary. The topics of my neighbors’ complaints—crime, vacant homes, a perceived lack of interest on the part of city government, empty storefronts, problems with certain businesses, greatly diminished property values, misbehaving youths, and on and on—are all concerns I have lost sleep over.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 11:40 AM, 05.30.2014

DiFranco decision should not discourage citizens from making a public records request

Earlier this year, The City of Cleveland Heights was charged with trying to conceal or withhold from reporters incident reports of violent crimes. The reports were eventually made public, but only after a lawyer was hired to force the city to comply with the Public Records Act.

Average citizens, not just reporters, are entitled to request public records. A citizens’ lawsuit was filed against the City of Cleveland Heights about the failure to conduct a public hearing on the controversial Taylor Road rehabilitation project. The outcome of the case was that the city paid thousands of dollars to settle the public records claims—including a request for reimbursement of attorney fees that were incurred.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 2:25 PM, 05.05.2014

Legal Aid hosts free legal advice clinics

As a Cleveland Heights City Councilperson and attorney, I believe in the Legal Aid Society’s mission to secure justice for our community’s low-income residents by providing free and high-quality legal services. If you have a noncriminal legal problem, but don’t think you can afford an attorney, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland can help. This spring, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will host two free legal advice clinics near Cleveland Heights and University Heights: on Saturday, May 10 at the Woodland Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, and on Saturday, June 7 at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center in East Cleveland.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 2:10 PM, 05.05.2014

Weather-related school closing decisions are never easy

This winter has tested the mettle of even the most winter-immune Northeast Ohioans. The frigid temperatures and frequent snow storms meant that CH-UH City School District administrators were faced even more often with that thorny decision: how bad must the weather be before school is called off? 

As much as parents and administrators would prefer hard-and-fast rules about when school closes due to weather conditions, such a rigid system isn’t being, and can’t really be, used. Every situation is different and has to be judged independently. Closing school is never an easy decision because every minute of instruction time counts.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 9:04 AM, 03.17.2014

An open letter from Mosdos to the CH-UH BOE

[This was submitted to the Observer for publication as an open letter to the CH-UH Board of Education.]

Mosdos has been negotiating with you privately to buy the old Millikin School property. Recent public comments made by your board president have been one-sided. They inferred that Mosdos had been nonresponsive and uncommunicative in negotiations, without mentioning that most delays were due to religious holidays that forbid the conduct of any business whatsoever by members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 3, Posted 8:52 AM, 02.28.2014

What I'd like to see from CH City Council and the school district in the next four years

The 2013 election was unusually important for both the City of Cleveland Heights and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

Six of the seven council members who had been serving Cleveland Heights in 2009 retired after long and distinguished service: Mayor Kelly, Nancy Dietrich, Bonnie Caplan, Mark Tumeo, Ken Montlack and the late Phyllis Evans. All did great things for the city.

The passage of the increase in school millage will improve the educational experience offered in the CH-UH school district. The juxtaposition of a new council and new hope for the schools presents great opportunities for Cleveland Heights.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 2, Posted 4:30 PM, 01.30.2014

Grant Deming's Forest Hill residents group targets foreclosure accountability

Cleveland Heights is projected to end 2013 with under 300 foreclosure filings this year, which is a substantial reduction from the past six year average of almost 500 per year, according to a recent report by the Thriving Communities Institute. That is the good news. The not-so-good news is that 300 foreclosures this year is still twice what our community averaged in 1995.

Foreclosure usually leads to vacancy, and far too often, vacancy leads to blight, which devalues our homes and threatens the safety and stability of our neighborhoods. A group of concerned residents from Grant Deming’s Forest Hill neighborhood, along with supporters from nearby neighborhoods, have stepped forward and embraced a strategy being used in other communities battling this problem, called a foreclosure bond.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 11, Posted 11:23 AM, 10.22.2013

Renovated facilities are a game changer

In the discussion about Issue 81, the CH-UH City School District's capital project, the debate can be broken down to three components: The Need, The Plan and The Cost. 

The first leg is the need. Between the state's report on our facilities, the IKG report, Regency's work, the Lay Facilities Committee's work, and staff opinions, anyone who denies the need would deny gravity, that the world is round and Barack Obama is an American citizen. I have toured every building, read every report and reviewed hundreds of photos taken by the Ohio School's Facilities Commission. The need is real.  

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 11, Posted 10:13 AM, 10.15.2013

What sustainable refurbished buildings mean for education in CH-UH

There have been several letters and opinion pieces in the Heights Observer recently that press the issue of what the $134.8 million facilities bond issue [would] do for education in the CH-UH District. [http://www.heightsobserver.org/read/2013/09/16/public-education-matters, http://www.heightsobserver.org/read/2013/09/24/how-to-pass-the-chuh-facilities-bond-issue, http://www.heightsobserver.org/read/2013/08/23/sustainable-buildings-will-help-teach-our-students] This is a central question for school leaders. We hope they can offer some significant information before the Nov. 5 vote. 

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 11, Posted 10:32 AM, 10.08.2013

School bond issue: Are you for or against?

For the past several weeks, the Heights Observer has asked CH-UH residents to weigh in on the school bond issue by participating in the Observer’s online “Daily Question.” It asks residents how they would vote if the election were held today. Of the approximately 60 responses received to date, Heights Observer editors selected 10 “no” and 10 “yes” vote comments that represent the most common reasons people gave for their votes.

Some responses are too long to reprint here in their entirety. We have, therefore, taken some out of context, but believe we have distilled the main point of the responder. To participate by adding your opinion to the conversation, and to read all the comments in their entirety, go to www.heightsobserver.org/daily-question.


Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 2:26 PM, 09.24.2013

Schools are working well for many children

As parents, we each have our own reasons for choosing a school. Some of these reasons are rooted in family tradition, a desire for a religious education, or access to specialized programming. Others, however, are rooted in misconceptions.

I am writing to members of our community who tell families with young children to avoid the CH-UH schools, to those who suggest we shouldn't support our schools until "they do their job," and to those who imply that enrolling a child in our public system is a mistake.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 3:18 PM, 10.01.2013

The need is real and the time to act is now

Over the last three years, working on the District Facilities Project, I have spent a considerable amount of time on this subject. Not only have I read all of the pertinent reports, I have toured all of our buildings, frequently starting in the boiler room and working [my] way up to the roofs, including the clock tower at Heights High. As such, with all of discussion and debate over the District’s Bond Issue, the following are items to take into consideration.

Historical Context

It has been 40 years since our last renovation program. If we move past the poor architectural designs, dated colors and poor placement of additions, and look at what was done in the 1970s, we find much of the work was cosmetic, failing to address serious systemic issues.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 12:01 PM, 09.03.2013

Chronicles of a crosswalk traditionalist

I remember when, because I’m not old enough yet to say, “When I was a kid . . . ,” you had to look both ways before you crossed the street. My mother made sure every time I left the house that I would remember this very important rule. Later, when I learned to drive, I was told to make sure I not only looked left and then right, but also left again, just to make sure. When I had children, I made sure to pass on this time-honored advice so that they too would be safe out there in the world.

I remember that when you wanted to cross the street, you would wait at the curb or the corner and let traffic pass, and when it was clear, and only when it was clear, you would take that step off the curb and into the crosswalk; and, you always crossed at the crosswalk ‘cause that was the place to do your crossing.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 1:04 PM, 08.30.2013

Walking to prevent suicide

“It is solved by walking.”  So an ancient saying tells us.

We cannot solve everything by walking, but sometimes we can make progress in responding to life’s challenges by walking. This year, along with thousands of other people affected by suicide loss, I will be walking to raise funds to combat what has become a national epidemic.

Cleveland's Out of the Darkness Walk takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Wade Oval in University Circle.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 12:59 PM, 08.30.2013

Sustainable buildings will help teach our students

A living wage is harder and harder to come by for many young people. In personal conversations, numerous people conclude that present and future employment is most available in the technical trades and engineering. Consumers and voters need technical knowledge to make the best decisions possible in life. To give all our children hope and pride in their futures, we need to enable them with significant Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, along with the arts, language, social sciences and history. Hope is a key motivator for students.

At present, limited CTE exists at Heights High and not at all for the lower grades. STEM is weak throughout K–12 in the district. The district is trying some things to change that, but it remains too little. Sustainable refurbished buildings provide an opportunity to create the space and infrastructure, which costs so much that it has handicapped the district from providing better CTE and STEM to-date. We can get a lot more than bricks and mortar from the bond issue being voted on this November. We can make an education leap that many voters want.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 11:03 AM, 08.23.2013

Refurbished CH-UH school buildings will save energy and money

The current buildings in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District consume between 150–218 thousand BTUs per square foot each year. The 1970s buildings use around 150 thousand BTUs per square foot per year, while the 1950s buildings use 200 thousand-plus BTUs per square foot per year [See the report published by the Lay Facilities Committee's Sustainability Working Group (LFC/SWG), pages 17–20].

The Board of Education-accepted facilities plan includes a performance goal of mid-30s thousand BTUs per square foot per year. This is consistent with construction practices specified by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) documents for current K–12 buildings. [See the Advanced Energy Design Guide for K–12 School Buildings: Achieving 50 Percent Energy Savings Toward a Net Zero Energy Building, published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Special Project 134, 2011. (LFC/SWG has copies.)]

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 10:53 AM, 08.13.2013

CH ordinance banned pesticides on public property

The year 1995 was memorable for the City of Cleveland Heights. A first-of-its-kind ordinance was passed, which prohibited the use of cosmetic pesticides and herbicides on public grounds, including parks, schools, libraries and day care centers. Here's the story.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 3:44 PM, 07.31.2013

District looks to tackle new athletic field

Cleveland Heights High School athletic teams have had great and growing success in recent years, with undefeated seasons, LEL championships, and state playoffs becoming the norm in several sports. More importantly, in a district as economically and racially diverse as ours, scholastic sports are a common denominator that brings everyone together. Heights High athletics play a critical role in our efforts to educate well-rounded students with character, and we need the right facilities to continue that education and source of community pride. That’s why the district is moving ahead with plans to secure funding for a new field, among other renovations to Hosford Field at Crawford Stadium. 

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 10:57 AM, 03.06.2013

CH Move to Amend needs signatures to put initiative on November ballot

Cleveland Heights Move to Amend is organizing an event that will ramp up the group’s petition drive to put a citizens’ initiative on the Cleveland Heights ballot in November.  The measure calls on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to establish that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

We invite all area citizens to join us on Saturday, April 20, 1–4 p.m., at Ensemble Theatre (located at 2843 Washington Blvd.) to pick up petitions and walk lists, receive a brief tutorial on signature-gathering, and disburse across the city in pairs, going door-to-door to collect signatures of registered voters. The afternoon will conclude with refreshments, sharing experiences, and a tally of the signatures collected that day.

Anyone registered to vote in Ohio may circulate a petition, so we encourage our friends from neighboring suburbs to join this entirely nonpartisan effort.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 12:30 PM, 03.28.2013

Teachers on the picket line?

Since March 3, the Strongsville teachers’ strike has been the subject of gossip statewide. Even the San Francisco Chronicle reported on this local story that happens to symbolize the most divisive issue facing public education today. The right of teachers to unionize affects every school district during this era of budgetary cutbacks and mass layoffs, and it is particularly important to Cleveland Heights and University Heights as the local teacher’s union prepares to negotiate a new contract this spring.


Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 11:02 AM, 03.11.2013

Cleveland Heights road repairs

It may seem doubtful in the midst of “pothole season,” but Cleveland Heights streets are improving. In 2009, the city completed repairs on just 11 of its more than 270 streets. In 2010, work was done on all or part of some 18 streets; on 31 streets in 2011; on 53 streets in 2012; with 33 more streets slated for work in 2013. By the end of 2015, the city expects to have dealt with virtually every street.

Alex Mannarino, public works director, gets credit for having instituted a systematic plan for road maintenance three years ago. Street repairs are prioritized based on road evaluations, complaints received about potholes, core samples and  available funds, which have remained stable at about $2 million over this time frame. Each road receives a score and is rated very good, good, fair, poor, or very poor.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 12:23 PM, 03.28.2013

UH firefighters union urges residents to ask questions about proposed merger of departments

On Feb. 1, the University Heights Firefighters Local 974 president was handed a packet by Mayor Infeld with no additional information given about it. It was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Mayor Infeld of University Heights and Mayor Leiken of Shaker Heights, outlining their plan and timeline to eliminate the University Heights Fire Department. The MOU states that a council of governments (COG) will be formed and controlled solely by Infeld and Leiken, taking power from the city council, the representatives of the people. [A Feb. 1 press release posted on both the Shaker Heights and University Heights city websites outines the "next step" in the preparation of an agreement to create a joint fire department.] 

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 12:00 PM, 02.07.2013

This is not a merger, and not regionalization

On Thursday, Feb. 7, University Heights (UH) resident Anita Kazarian interviewed John Novosielski, president of Local 974 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Kazarian’s questions and Novosielski’s responses follow.

Q: One hundred percent of University Heights (UH) firefighters are trained as paramedics or emergency medical services. Is this true of Shaker Heights firefighters?
A: No. University Heights is 1.9 square miles and covered by two advanced life support ambulances, with everyone in the department trained to provide a high level of service. Shaker Heights is 6.3 square miles and covered by three ambulances, with only 53 percent of the department [trained] as paramedics. Currently, UH residents have a quick response time—under four minutes. Shaker’s response time is under five minutes. Most calls are heart attacks or strokes where brain damage can occur in four to six minutes. One minute can make a life or death difference.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 11:56 AM, 02.28.2013

Play it safe with artificial turf

Would our community leaders and parents knowingly and willingly increase children's exposure to harmful toxins? Of course not—with the key words being "knowingly" and "willingly." We all want to do well by our children. That is why the Cleveland Heights City Council was the first in the country to ban the use of pesticides on public property, school grounds and playing fields. The wisdom of that measure is supported by health experts, who suggest limiting one’s exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

Two years ago, artificial turf was laid down on Denison Field. Research on such fields has resulted in warnings and recommendations from public health and pediatric environmental health experts. There are concerns that the many toxic chemicals used in artificial turf's crumb rubber infill may make their way into children's bodies, the surrounding environment, soil and groundwater.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 2, Posted 11:16 AM, 01.31.2013

Locals organize to end corporate use of individual rights

Cleveland Heights citizens are joining others across the country in a non-partisan attempt to overturn the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. Equating money with speech, the judicial majority ruled that limits on corporate and union campaign contributions were a denial of First Amendment rights, opening the floodgates regarding election spending.

Move To Amend (MTA) is a national movement seeking to challenge and abolish corporate constitutional rights and regulate political contributions and influence from corporations and wealthy individuals in elections and government.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 2, Posted 11:26 AM, 01.31.2013

When it snows, residents must work together to keep sidewalks clear

Both Cleveland Heights and University Heights have ordinances that require property owners to keep the sidewalks clear, yet they are often not enforced. We take pride in our walkable communities, but are they so walkable when it snows?

Many sidewalks remain covered in snow and ice, and pedestrians, including children on their way to school, resort to walking in the street.

Cleveland Heights’s ordinance says, “For safety's sake, residents and merchants should keep their walks free of snow, ice, and debris.” University Heights’s code requires owners to keep sidewalks “in repair and free from snow, ice or any nuisance.” Owners are required “to remove from such sidewalks, curbs or gutters all snow and ice accumulated thereon within a reasonable time, which will ordinarily not exceed 12 hours after any storm during which the snow and ice has accumulated.”

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 2, Posted 9:15 AM, 01.24.2013

Our new city manager: this job description takes us in the wrong direction

Cleveland Heights has hired a consulting group to conduct the search for a new city manager; Ed Kelley has been quoted as saying that search could cost between $60,000-$125,000.

I hope everyone who is interested in this expensive process and important decision will go online and read the job description being used to guide the search. It is available at the Novak Consulting Group website. The firm is located in Cincinnati.

Three things stand out: a bachelor’s degree is a required qualification; the hiring range is $130,000–$150,000; and the person must live in Cleveland Heights. 

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 1, Posted 10:39 AM, 12.07.2012

Education in the age of the iPad: How can we adapt?

Heights residents agree that the thefts that forced the district to overhaul its digital technology policy were contemptible, and represent a moral failure on the part of those who allegedly robbed middle schoolers of the iPads they were given to improve their computer proficiency.

Our community will not tolerate wrongdoing, and in many respects it has been cheering to see how quickly local government, law enforcement and citizens have reacted to protect schoolchildren and ensure no more thefts take place.

However, it has become clear that—given the cost of the devices, and the high value many place on access to the kind of technology used by Heights students—the conditions that led to the thefts are not likely to change in the near future.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 7:12 PM, 11.29.2012

Youth volunteer group, Project Build, ready for exciting second year

For years, I had wanted to volunteer. For both myself and for those around me, I wanted to do something meaningful, and have a positive effect on the community. But each and every time I called an organization to see if I could help, I was told the same thing. “You can’t volunteer, you’re under 18. Unless you have adult supervision, you’re too young.” I got frustrated and discouraged, feeling that I was too young to make a difference.

Years passed. Finally, as a high school senior one year ago, I came up with a simple but powerful idea: recruit a few teachers to act as adult supervisors and create a youth volunteer group. I got some of my friends excited, enlisted the help of Cleveland Heights High School teacher Chris Sutton, and went to work. Project Build was born.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 3:40 PM, 11.29.2012

Join the Tiger Nation team

I've never participated in team sports, but am thrilled to have joined Tiger Nation, the team of students and families who comprise the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to new families joining us on what I hope will prove a satisfying journey in the CH-UH school district.

My son is a second grader at Fairfax Elementary School. Though my family is just three years into our journey, we have already benefited from our educational and social experiences. We've also happily shared our own modest resources to support and enrich the educational experience of the students. On this journey, you, like us, will have the opportunity to make great friends and support the success of not only your own child, but other children and, thereby, the broader community.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 9:52 AM, 09.02.2012

Demolition of Denison Pool also destroys covenant with our children

I just checked weather.com and the official temperature is 96 degrees. A few days ago, 2012 was declared the warmest year on record for Ohio. In a time when many other communities are building new pools, Cleveland Heights destroyed one of its two public pools.

Denison Pool was demolished a few weeks ago. Denison Pool was destroyed and a new soccer field was built—not over the pool—but next to where the pool used to be. The new soccer field could have been built elsewhere in our town. It could have been built at Denison without destroying the pool.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 5:07 PM, 08.01.2012

A quiet revolution has started, and It’s here in Cleveland Heights

After the 2010 Citizens United case wherein the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertising, people across the country decided that enough was enough. Just two short years before, the big banks had pulled the country, and the rest of the world, into a mire of recession resulting from their bad judgment and greed. Years before that, important banking oversight regulations had been demolished at the behest of big banks and their lobbyists. As the argument went, business knows best how to run itself and must be freed from the shackles of government.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 3:15 PM, 07.09.2012

Could “Coventry Cash” revive Coventry Street Fair?

Organizers of the Coventry Street Arts Fair should consider an idea that could help any future fairs be both safe for individuals and successful for local businesses.

What about a "federal-cash-for-Coventry-Cash" entry fee exchange? Charge $5 to enter the fair. In exchange, each entrant would receive $5 worth of Coventry Cash—coupons redeemable for food or merchandise that day at any participating business or vendor.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 10:50 PM, 06.11.2012

Plan C is the wrong plan, for the wrong price and at possibly the wrong time

Five minutes. That was the amount of time members of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education were willing to allow for public comment before they make a decision on a $200 million capital project that will be the single largest civic project in our community’s history. At the June 5 board meeting, I asked if they would entertain public comment at their work session on June 19, or schedule another community meeting on the final plan. The reply was “No.” June 5 was the last opportunity for public comment, except for July 3, the night board members will cast their votes. 

I’ve waited more than 20 years for the community to give our children the buildings they deserve. However, I feel that I have no other choice: I cannot support the current facilities plan. If it is on the ballot this November, I will, for the first time in 27 years, vote “no” on a schools’ issue.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 10:44 PM, 06.10.2012

Board of Ed should consider a Plan D

“I don’t get a second chance to do this,” said Kal Zucker, CH-UH school board member, at the April 23 work session, where master facilities Plan C was presented to the board of education (BOE). The BOE acknowledged that residents are voicing opinions on what they are willing to support. I believe the BOE grasps the gravity of the situation and understands the need for broad-based community support before a final plan is placed on the ballot.

I commend the BOE for questioning the position that only two options exist: Do nothing and continue to let the district bleed; or implement Plan C, a bold, large-scale plan that many in the community perceive as divisive and expensive.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 9:30 AM, 05.02.2012

An open letter to the CH-UH City School District on bullying

Being a kid in today's society makes my own childhood look primitive. Grade school children can be seen bandying about cell phones before and after school. Video games and video game systems were once the status symbol of a family that was well off. Instead of the world being right outside your door, it's now available in any part of your house as long as the Wi-Fi signal is strong enough. If there is one constant that hasn't changed from my childhood to that of my children, it's bullying.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 3:08 PM, 04.17.2012

Taking back the streets

This past January, following Edward Kelley’s reappointment as mayor of Cleveland Heights, he made the statement that the city will “take back the streets.”  On Monday, March 21, at the FutureHeights annual meeting, he reiterated that statement when presenting a council proclamation to Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the organization.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 9:24 AM, 04.04.2012

When it comes to being sustainable, it's all about priorities

Given that Cleveland Heights is a built-out suburb with few opportunities for cutting-edge planned developments, I question the relative emphasis given to such developments in the proposed changes to the city's zoning codes.

While doing something sustainable with the Oakwood property makes sense, and while one day turning Severance into another Crocker Park could too, the changes ignore the fact that the city comprises mostly older homes that could be made markedly more sustainable with the right investments.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 9:33 AM, 04.04.2012

How to build community

What does it mean to build community? How can one participate in developing a close-knit community and neighborhood? If you’re reading the Heights Observer, you have taken the first critical step of becoming informed about local goings-on. Now, where do you go from here?

Turn off your television. This doesn't mean that the TV should never be on, but rather that it be kept off by default. This will increase the amount of quality programming that is watched, and decrease exposure to pointless shows and commercials. In his book, "The 4-Hour Work Week," author Tim Ferriss suggests going on a “low information diet,” and urges readers to “ignore or redirect what is irrelevant, unimportant or cannot be acted upon.”

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 12:20 PM, 03.13.2012

Feeling like public enemy #1

The view from down here:

I saw in the last issue that the re-elected Mayor Kelley is encouraging the community to "take back the streets." Sadly, there are several hours during the day when my friends and I are prohibited from being on the streets near my house, so I don't know how I can help. I'm an honors student, have never been in trouble at school or with the police, and dedicate hours of my time entertaining the community in the Heights High Marching Band and Symphonic Winds. There are a few thousand middle and high school students in our community who are similarly good citizens, but are being punished for the actions of a few dozen. I don't want mobs, fights, or melees any more than the adults of the community, but I think there are much more proactive ways to prevent them. But we're kids, and you're adults, and it is easier to just push us around.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 1:54 PM, 02.28.2012

Whatever happened to respecting your elders?

Since I have had kids of my own, I have concluded that if a kid is stupid enough to pick a fight with an adult, then that level of stupidity is going to haunt him for the rest of his life.

One day I took two of my kids, Finn and Colette, to a popular playground close to our home. Colette was pulled in our wagon while Finn walked with me. As usual, I parked the wagon at the willow tree on top of the hill.

A half-hour later, Finn was playing at the top of a big hill with a group of new friends, while I pushed Colette on the swing at the bottom. Mid push, I noticed two boys shooting down one of the smaller hills in a wagon.

It was my wagon.


Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 1:10 PM, 02.21.2012

Evaluating a school district's facilities planning process

Thorough and proper planning for school facilities is critical for the success of all school districts—no matter how large or small. It matters not whether major construction is in the works or if the district is managing enrollment declines. This is a process through which all districts must eventually go. When school districts properly plan for their facilities, they have schools that are better suited to serve the community. Additional public use is facilitated and the district creates a higher value for public spending–something that is currently needed across district and state borders.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 1:13 PM, 02.21.2012

Schools need a director of sustainability

The Cleveland Heights University Heights Board of Education has begun planning the next 50 years of school and administrative buildings programs. It is anticipated that a number of existing buildings will be closed, renovated, rebuilt, or replaced at a cost likely to run into several tens of millions of dollars. The process has already begun, and is gaining momentum. I worry lest "sustainability" become just a fashionable buzzword to which everyone pays lip service, but for which no one person is actually responsible or accountable. While sustainability has been identified as a key concern, no one individual has been given responsibility as a director of sustainability.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 11:11 AM, 01.10.2012

An open letter to Mitchell Schneider of Oakwood Commons

To the Editor:

As I recently drove down Warrensville Center Road, I saw dozens of felled trees. Since it now seems inevitable that the Oakwood development will go forward, I have a few requests for Mr. Schneider that I think would minimize the negative impact of the loss of green space.

  • First, please preserve some real, usable green space for the community (in contrast to Legacy Village).
Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 3:07 PM, 01.19.2012

We can overturn the South Euclid rezoning of Oakwood

It's come to this. Finally. I'm begging. I'm begging for a pro bono lawyer, or for someone(s) with deep pockets.

Because. I. Don't. Want. To. Lose. We can't lose. It's way too important.

Unless we get it reversed in a court, the ill-advised and unconstitutional rezoning of the Oakwood golf course in South Euclid will, too late, be recognized as the turning point upon which the Near East Side Suburbs (NESS) began their rapid decent.

“Unconstitutional? What the heck is he talking about?” you may well ask.

Read Full Story
Volume 5, Issue 1, Posted 11:49 PM, 12.21.2011

Veteran's Day 11.11.11

RALPH SOLONITZ (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling very early on . . . first in German and a few years later in English. His father gave him motivational advice . . . "stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting." Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 9:40 AM, 11.11.2011

Bravo Cleveland Heights!

Bravo to a new bike lane! Bravo to a safer North Park Boulevard! Bravo to one lane of traffic? 

Yes, I think it's grand that North Park Boulevard is now officially one lane of traffic. I think it was a wise choice and one that should be applauded. Instead of an autobahn speedway we now have a normal road. I am a dog owner and we love the Doan Creek park area that runs all along North Park and up through the Heights. Each and every day I walk the Doan Creek Park and I see runners, hikers, cyclists on their way to work, and other dog walkers. I see these improvements as helping to protect each and every one of us and even the people driving cars as well.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 3:57 PM, 12.01.2011

The illusive specter of decline

It is easy to find “signs” of impending decline in a community. Cleveland Heights has endured population flight, growing poverty, abandoned homes, and menacing youth behavior. Lacking perspective, relative newcomers attracted by stories about a progressive, diverse, dedicated community may construct from these developments a simplistic declension narrative. For longtime residents, memory poses a different problem—unconscious selectivity. Their minds may conjure a time when Cleveland Heights was flush with people—some 60,000 in 1960. In those days virtually every dwelling was occupied. Poverty was less common and much less visible. Business districts were filled with friendly stores. Waves of suburban expansion were still washing over the Heights and just beginning to lap at Pepper Pike and Solon. Memory, whether short or clouded, makes it all too easy to plot each piece of bad news on an imagined downward curve. Yet history belies such direct conclusions. 

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 4:10 PM, 10.24.2011

Yes on Issue 2

On Nov. 8, Ohioans will go to the polls to vote on Issue 2, a referendum petition to decide whether the collective bargaining reforms contained in SB 5 will become Ohio law. A “yes” vote means the reforms will become law while a “no” vote will maintain the status quo.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 10:32 PM, 11.01.2011

Enjoy the abundance of fall at the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square

Fall is a wonderful time to cook and your first stop should be the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square. There are soups, stews, and roasts which can be made from pasture-raised meats from the market, and hearty fall vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, potatoes, onions and cauliflower. Baking with nutritious apples is a wonderful way to celebrate the harvest.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 11:37 PM, 10.17.2011

Heights schools deserve a new levy

The Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District has shown continual improvement in recent years, and current plans show promise to dramatically boost student achievement in the coming years. 

Before those plans can produce results, our community first has to pass Issue 6, or our schools will face very tough times ahead. In the past four years, the district has cut more than $7 million in spending, and if Issue 6 fails on Nov. 8, it will face another $7 million in cuts that will impact the quality of education. With almost $4 million in additional state cuts scheduled in the next two years, every dollar counts.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 5:01 PM, 10.06.2011

Green zoning catches Cleveland Heights up with its citizens

Cleveland Heights has long cultivated a reputation as a community that is working hard to preserve its historic homes, its walkable, tree-lined neighborhoods, and its progressive ideals that, at times, filter up to city hall and are engrained in policy. The inner-ring suburb is also known for its law-and-order outlook, and a government that doesn't always reflect the enclave of liberals who were once on the vanguard of civil rights issues like fair housing and racial integration.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 1:43 PM, 09.13.2011

Where are your kids?

I have been a Cleveland Heights resident for a little more than a year and a half. It will officially be two years this November. Prior to this, my family and I were "west siders" for all of our lives.

We relocated to Cleveland Heights because it was relatively close to where my wife was working at the time. It was also the same place that we had daydreamed about living in when we were dating.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 10:23 PM, 09.06.2011

Passive house construction is an opportunity for Cleveland Heights

The SmartHome is nothing short of amazing! It’s a game-changer! I know of no other way to describe the combination of “passive” features, such as sun-harvesting triple-pane windows and super insulated and sealed building shell with “active” advanced low-energy consuming electric heating and cooling equipment. The result is a state-of-the-art performance package. This is the approach used when designing a house to meet the high certification standards established by the Passive House Institute US.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 12:09 PM, 09.01.2011

Natural gas fracking is focus of eye-opening film

On Aug. 18, a group of about 30 people sat at the Lee Road Library, mostly in stunned silence, watching the film “Gasland,” a screening sponsored by the Burning River Anti-Fracking Network. Written and directed by Josh Fox, the movie records his journey across the country to view the effects of hydraulic fracturing. Also known as “fracking,” the process is the gas and oil industry’s latest attempt to extract more money from the earth. 

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 12:01 PM, 09.01.2011

Maintaining excellence is job one

I enjoy reading the Observer blogs from time to time. I find them to be entertaining, informative and on occasion challenging. In August, Bob Rosenbaum posted one titled "Before the city council elections, let’s define ‘excellent.’" His concern relates to what makes an "excellent" government.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 1:03 PM, 09.01.2011

Let's follow Cleveland's lead by creating space for artists

Cleveland has abandoned downtown living since the Roaring ‘20s. We tore down most of the mansions on our main street (Euclid Avenue). Further, shortly after WWII and continuing today, most of the downtown manufacturing spaces have been abandon, leaving their empty shells in a ring around the outer, mostly east-side areas of downtown. 

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 4:45 PM, 08.05.2011

CH must do more to connect its artists to its children

When I moved to Cleveland Heights, the big attraction was that it was artsy. I was a recent MFA and a divorced mother of a preschooler. If I couldn’t go back to New York City, then I was determined to live in what I felt was the closest thing to it in Cuyahoga County. So, 15 years ago I settled into Coventry Village.

Read Full Story
Volume 4, Issue 8, Posted 11:38 AM, 08.02.2011