Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-22-2021
NOVEMBER 22, 2021 – special meeting
- Public comments
- City boards and commissions
- NEORSD Horseshoe Lake proposal
- Other council action
Present were Council President Jason Stein, Council Vice President Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. Josie Moore was absent. Also present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council and Finance Director Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting ran for one hour and ten minutes.
Eight people discussed Horseshoe Lake. Those in favor of keeping the lake talked about the petition, which had received 1964 signatures. They suggested giving more time to seek funds to cover the expense, including federal infrastructure funds. They cited the need for a master plan for future care, the importance of the lake for migrating birds, and other ideas. One speaker noted that if the city wants residents to serve on boards and commissions the people must feel that they have an effective voice. Those favoring the NEORSD (Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District) plan urged acceptance that the 170-year old dams have outlived their usefulness and are no longer safe [both Horseshoe Lake and Lower Shaker Lake dams will be removed, but the latter will be rebuilt by NEORSD for flood control]. Looking beyond individual interests and responding to the future of the region, input from many is needed for the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of the old lake bed. Restoring Doan Brook to its natural state would be a rare sight and an addition to the region if done right. Another speaker stated that the NEORSD has no hidden agenda or vendetta and has spent three years and $10 million to study the problem.
A bicyclist discussed the need for better sharrows markings on Monticello to help with dangerous left turns. The city manager will refer the problem to the Transportation and Environment Committee.
A resident had heard a rumor that the Cumberland Pool season would be shortened. The city manager responded that staff has recommended that the season be restored to its previous length.
Two residents addressed the Cedar/Lee/Meadowbrook project. One criticized the proposed $50 million agreement with the developer and urged that the legislation be postponed until the new council is in place in January. Destiny Hearns, owner of the Cleveland Urban Winery and vice president of the Cedar-Lee Special Improvement District, said there is no need to delay the project, which many businesses support. She suggested that the proposed traffic study include the entire district.
City boards and commissions
City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil reminded residents to apply for vacant positions on boards and commissions. There are more than 20 positions on eight different bodies; the details can be found in the meeting packet. She expressed thanks to staff who have kept the city going during a challenging year, council for understanding the demands on staff, and residents for their support and compliments.
NEORSD Horseshoe Lake proposal
On second reading, council passed a resolution to concur with the NEORSD plan to restore Horseshoe Lake to its naturalized state in concert with Shaker Heights. Council also passed a “friendly amendment” to the Horseshoe Lake legislation, urging NEORSD to be open to suggestions. Ms. Hart commented that proper handling of stormwater is paramount, and the amendment will make clear the community’s desire that the sewer district remain open to alternatives. Mr. Cobb expressed appreciation for preserving Horseshoe Lake, but there must be a way to pay for it. As Shaker Heights has already concurred with the plan, Cleveland Heights has no alternatives. Ms. Russell agreed it was a tough decision, but council must focus on safety and money; the area can be made beautiful. Mr. Ungar reluctantly voted yes, reflecting on the comments of his colleagues and residents. He noted that council got a second opinion, which was a peer review of the NEORSD report. Mr. Seren concluded that this is not an attractive plan, but the only reasonable and sustainable option; he hopes everyone can move forward.
Other council action
Council approved purchase of an aerial ladder truck for the fire department.
Receiving a first reading were: 1) an ordinance amending the city code to reflect the transition from council-manager to mayor-council form of government; and 2) a resolution authorizing an agreement with F&C Development, Inc., for 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