In March, I participated in a panel discussion, hosted by FutureHeights, about neighborhood organizing. It was an upbeat evening that highlighted the success of neighborhood groups in the Cain Park and Grant Deming's Forest Hill areas. These two parts of the city are different, and each has its own unique strengths and attributes, but both associations share a love for their neighborhoods and a positive enthusiasm for making them better.
For many area residents, Coventry Village is the hip place for great nightlife, unique stores, fabulous restaurants, and interesting, historical places to live and work. Unfortunately, the North Coventry area of the neighborhood does not conjure up these positive thoughts.
The North Coventry triangle extends into East Cleveland, bordered on the north by Forest Hills Park, on the east by the Community Center, and on the south by Mayfield Road and the prosperity of Coventry Village. This neighborhood has many vacant homes and apartment buildings. Property values are depressed, and there is an increased level of crime activity. The area north of Mayfield Road has long been a source of concern for the City of Cleveland Heights.
On April 13, 2012, City Manager Bob Downey resigned after more than 25 years of service. This triggered a process, which had not been initiated since 1985, to begin the search for a new city manager.
The Cleveland Heights city manager is the most important position within the city. The city manager serves as the city’s chief administrative officer and public safety director, supervising 415 permanent full-time employees, 54 permanent part‐time employees, 130 seasonal part‐time employees, and a budget exceeding $40 million. City council is charged with appointing, reviewing and, if necessary, replacing the city manager.
Our youth are our city's most precious resource. I believe they can add value and substance to the public discourse if they have an opportunity to speak, and if we make it a priority to really listen. I want our youth to have a direct connection to our city government. With this in mind, I have made the creation of a Youth Advisory Commission a focus since I began serving on city council.
Back in the fall of 2011, Mayor Kelley and I met at Tommy’s restaurant to discuss what my priorities were for the upcoming year. I proposed the concept of a Youth Advisory Commission based on a number of successful programs, such as those in in Milpitas, Calif. and Pinellas County, Fla. To my pleasant surprise, Mayor Kelley told me he also had the creation of a youth commission on his priority list.