Cedar Lee business owner urges 'no' vote on park

On behalf of myself and other small businesses owners of the Cedar Lee Business District, I urge Cleveland Heights residents to come out to the polls on May 3 and VOTE NO on the ballot initiative (Issue 9) to create an unfunded public activity park at the corner of Lee, Meadowbrook and Tullamore. This is a critical moment in our city’s history, and we need your support.

Here are the relevant facts everyone should know:

  • The Cleveland Heights Master Plan, developed with significant community input, designated the Lee-Meadowbrook vacant lot’s best use as mixed development, not parkland.
  • The city has already made significant investments in the Lee-Meadowbrook vacant lot and in the adjacent parking garage in anticipation of, and preparation for, this development project.
  • Our duly elected city council competitively selected a developer and voted unanimously in 2021 to enter into a binding development agreement and contract with Flaherty & Collins to develop 4.8 acres of city-owned land as one integrated project, including the Lee-Meadowbrook vacant lot. The 1.07 acre Lee-Meadowbrook portion cannot simply be removed from the project’s scope.
  • The plans and designs for this development project already have been approved by the city in a process that included significant opportunities for community visibility and input. The developer listened to citizen input about the desire for green space and incorporated it into the design.
  • City council voted unanimously to reject this ballot initiative after a community forum to hear input. The feedback they received that night was overwhelmingly in favor of rejecting the park initiative and in support of the Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development project.

The Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development project will:

  • Provide substantial new property tax revenues to the school district, generate income tax revenues to the city, and create jobs in our community;
  • Beautify and actualize the Lee-Meadowbrook vacant lot that has negatively impacted the continuity of the Cedar Lee Business District for many years;
  • Incorporate more than 2 acres of public green space, including a public park on one-third of the current Lee-Meadowbrook vacant lot, funded AND maintained at developer expense; and
  • Create new housing and commercial/retail space to revitalize the business district.

In addition, the city’s Law Department has advised that the state and federal Constitutions prohibit legislation that retroactively impairs the obligations of pre-existing contracts, and this provision applies with equal force to legislation passed by city council and legislation adopted directly by voters via ballot initiative. Our city must honor its contractual commitments—it is essential to the city’s credibility in future development efforts, and it is simply the right thing to do.

Your Lee Road merchants have been hit hard by the impacts of the pandemic, but we still do our best and give our all every single day to support our community and make it a better place. We greatly appreciate your support—and I ask now for your help to defeat this ballot initiative so that our business district can modernize and thrive.

The Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development project is essential to the future of our business district and our city. Please come out to the polls on May 3 and VOTE NO on the public activity park initiative.

Destiny Burns

Destiny Burns is the owner of CLE Urban Winery, and is also a homeowner in the Cedar Lee neighborhood.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:16 PM, 04.01.2022