Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-13-21
SEPTEMBER 13, 2021 – regular meeting
- Public comments
- Lifesaving Award
- Energy rate agreements
- Council actions
- Council member comments
Present were Jason Stein, council president; Kahlil Seren, council vice president; Craig Cobb; Melody Joy Hart; and Michael N. Ungar. Davida Russell was absent. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting was about one hour and ten minutes.
A speaker suggested systemic racism in the allocation of city resources, specifically citing the lack of mulch at a playground on the city’s north side and less road repair. The speaker criticized specific staff members and said she has filed a complaint. Mr. Ungar, Ms. Hart, Mr. Stein, and City Manager O’Neil defended city staff later in the meeting.
A Noble neighborhood resident requested the creation of a community liaison, to listen and respond to complaints and service requests, as suggested in the Novak Report regarding the housing department. She said a home next door to her had been rented despite serious violations needing repair. The case has not gone to housing court as promised. She requested that staff contact her about the matter and that a community liaison be established soon. Ms. O’Neil said she would look into this on Tuesday.
Architect and resident Paul Volpe spoke in detail about the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook project with eight suggestions for improvement and an offer to help address these without charging a fee.
Blanche Valancy of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Chapter announced candidate forums to be held Sept. 23 and 30 and Oct. 7, featuring candidates for mayor and council in each city and for the board of education. The General Election will be November 2.
Police Chief Annette Mecklenberg and Municipal Judge J. J. Costello presented the Lifesaving Award to Sgt. Christopher Skoke, a 23-year veteran of the CHPD, who saved a child from drowning at a party after a youth baseball game.
Energy rate agreements
City Manager O’Neil requested, and received from council, approval of emergency agreements to secure 36-month residential rates for electric power (with Dynegy Energy Services) and natural gas (with Volunteer Energy).
Council renamed the Recreation Advisory Board as the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Mr. Seren commented that the name change recognizes passive enjoyment of parks as well as sports.
Council approved several routine tax measures to enable city taxes collected by county agencies to be advanced to the city.
Council amended the appropriations and expenditures for 2021 to allow the city to pay for school crossing guards from Community Development Block Grant funds.
Council approved the purchase of equipment to upfit eleven new police vehicles.
Council recognized Sept. 17 as Car Free Day and Parking Day in Cleveland Heights, passing the resolution as a tribute to former council member Mary Dunbar. This event, in collaboration with Cleveland State University and the Regional Transit Authority, was her idea.
There was a first reading of an ordinance authorizing virtual meetings and full participation by members of certain public bodies of the city. Council discussed the need to have this available for safety in the case of pandemic disease. In response to concerns raised, council added a sunset provision; the legislation would expire April 1, 2022.
Council member comments
Vice Mayor Seren commented on how Sgt. Skoke saving the drowning child moved him. He pointed out the need to make better use of the expertise of city residents, such as Mr. Volpe’s recommendations regarding Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook.
Mr. Cobb reported on a meeting with the housing department about progress with Novak Report recommendations.
Mr. Ungar thanked the League of Women Voters for the voter education it provides. He thanked Planning Director Eric Zanft and other planning personnel for a recent useful discussion of the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development.
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