Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-7-2022
FEBRUARY 7, 2022 - Regular Meeting
- Public comments
- Mayor’s report
- Clerk of council report
- Gail Larson appointed
- Other council actions
- Council member comments
Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Josie Moore, Davida Russell, and Anthony Mattox, Jr. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting ran one hour and six minutes.
Eleven residents spoke on three topics.
Cedar/Lee/Meadowbrook. A local resident and business owner urged council to purchase the two buildings on Cedar Road needed to complete the parcel and to reject the petition for the citizen initiative. She called the development a lifeline to the business area and the petition a waste of time and resources, especially because the park project would be unfunded and there is a valid contract in place. One speaker is part of the initiative group (cedarleepublicsquare.org) and stated they will proceed to move it to the ballot themselves, adding that council repeatedly refused to meet with the group to find common ground last year. Another man expressed sadness that it has come to a yes/no vote and urged negotiation about the need for both green space and development. A resident urged that council reaffirm the project, adding that rejecting the ballot initiative is courageous. He pointed out that there will be 2.3 acres of green space in the development, some private, but some accessible at no cost to city taxpayers. A small business owner urged that the development contract not be broken, that the two buildings be purchased, and that council choose a member for the vacant seat who supports development. She pointed out the problem of paying for building and maintaining the proposed park. A man from the St. Ann’s district thanked the city for the project, saying the latest plan looks good and council should reject the park.
Streetscape at Mayfield and Warrensville Center. A resident returned to complain again about the planter barrels in front of the stores at Mayfield and Warrensville Center Roads, stating they have become garbage cans and are out of proportion to the store fronts. She said no one from city government had contacted her and vowed to return each meeting until she gets a response. Mayor Seren replied that the planters were placed in collaboration with the area business owners and that he will contact her.
Medicare for All. Four people spoke about health care as a human right and requested council to endorse Medicare for All. They spoke of the harm caused by medical debt, the ability to afford life, local and global health equity, the crumbling health care infrastructure, and universal health care. Another resident spoke in favor of Medicare for all who want it.
Mr. Seren stated that he has drafted a Medicare for All endorsement resolution for the next council meeting. Even though it is only ceremonial, he feels every little bit helps. All six council members agreed to cosponsor the resolution.
Council approved several project bids and change orders he presented.
Clerk of council report
Ms. Himmelein presented an application for a transfer of the liquor license for Hunan Coventry as a matter of record.
Gail Larson appointed
President Hart announced that council had appointed Gail Larson to the vacant seat on council.
On second reading, council authorized the purchase of property at 13230-13232 Cedar Road for $280,000 and closing costs. This will be added to the Cedar/ Lee/ Meadowbrook development.
Two ordinances regarding the creation of a public activity park on Lee Road between Tullamore and Meadowbrook were presented, along with a report of the January public hearing at which most speakers favored the park. The committee of the whole recommended rejecting the initiative because: 1) the city has tried to develop the site for many years, 2) the city remediated the environmental hazards at the site and built a parking garage, 3) the site is now under contract to Flaherty & Collins, 4) moving forward with the project is in the interest of the city and its residents, and 5) in the opinion of the law department, the measure would be unconstitutional. Therefore, council rejected the proposal and the initiative petition. This was done as an emergency to allow time for the citizens favoring the park to file their initiative with the board of elections by the March 3 deadline, should they choose to do so.
Other council actions
Council amended the appropriations budget for 2022 on first reading.
Council authorized the mayor to enter grant agreements with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer district regarding acceptance of funds under the Member Community Infrastructure Program for sewer improvement projects, one for $824,841 and the other for $479,700. The city will pay 100 percent of the cost over and above these maximum amounts.
Two measures received first readings only: a resolution recognizing March as National Women’s History Month and an ordinance to place a charter amendment on the May 3 ballot that would allow council to make improvements including appointing its own clerk of council and other employees and consultants.
Council member comments
Council President Hart congratulated Gail Larson on her appointment to the vacant seat. She said there were many excellent candidates, who she hopes will find other ways to serve the city. She presented information about why legislation receives one or two (or more) readings and what an emergency is. If passed on an emergency, a resolution or ordinance can go into effect immediately.
Mr. Cobb praised the service department for a fantastic job handling the recent snow, and congratulated and welcomed Gail Larson.
Mr. Cuda reported on a Public Safety and Health Committee meeting held today. The police department is fully staffed at 84 members, racial disparities in traffic stops are being examined, the Racial Justice Task force presented its progress, gunfire on New Years Eve is a concern, and speeding and stop sign running are also important concerns. He praised the service department’s efforts in clearing snow, welcomed Gail Larson to council, and spoke about a friend who recently died with long COVID, concluding with the importance of safety and mitigation efforts during the pandemic.
Mr. Mattox praised the service department who worked around the clock to clear snow, and commented that our first mayor is Black, which is a fitting way to celebrate Black History Month.
Ms. Moore also praised the service department and urged resident to clear their sidewalks.
Ms. Russell added Service Director Clinkscales to the praise list and suggested that the city set up a registry of people who want to clear snow. She noted that the new garbage cans and trucks will be here soon, and that Parks and Recreation has been holding vaccination drives.
The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. The Housing and Building Committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 10 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled soon. Community Relations and Recreation will hold a public meeting on March 13 with Noble area residents to discuss narrowing the wish list for ARPA funds.
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