Yes on Issue 9 will protect your wealth and Cedar Lee's future


On May 3 [Cleveland Heights residents] can vote for a public park to be built on the 1.07 acres of city-owned land at Meadowbrook-Lee. Plans for the public park include restrooms, a water fountain, free Wi-Fi, a small stage, trees, plants, and small play area for children. The developer’s “park” is one-third acre and will have none of these amenities, other than trees and plants. The developer refused to put the restrooms and play area in the “park” when asked to do so by the planning commission. (You can watch [meeting video] online.)

Will the PUBLIC park be built when Issue 9 passes? Yes. The city will be obligated by the initiative to do so. Lots of people want this park, and we will work with the city to raise the funds (private and public) to build the park; the city will maintain it. Based on the city’s maintenance costs for other parks, [Issue 9 supporters estimate that] maintaining this one will cost between $20,000 to $40,000 a year, depending on activities held there.

The city just hired (for $250,000) a consultant to manage the $38.8 million in ARPA funds Cleveland Heights was awarded. The city gave FutureHeights $50,000 last year in Community Development funds. The money is there. The park will be built.

This is the community that created Cain Park. This is the community that prides itself on its creativity, the many artists that choose to live here, and its progressive views. We can and will build the park [if] Issue 9 passes. Don’t we deserve a beautiful PUBLIC space?

[If] Issue 9 passes will the city be taken to court by the developer? [Its supporters don’t believe so.] If this were a real threat the city would have added a paragraph in the development agreement before they passed it. They would have protected all of us from this risk; they were well aware of the initiative. Some of them, to their credit, even signed it. The city describes their relationship with Flaherty & Collins as a partnership—there will be no lawsuit. If there is, we must hold our public officials accountable for their error.

We support the businesses on Cedar Lee. The ones currently there and the ones that will come along in the next five, 10 and 20 years. Businesses on Lee could be hurt, not helped, by the proposed development. The success of the development is not inevitable. The developer offers no guarantees. University Heights did not think the University Square garage would end up as it did.

There are three big problems with the development as proposed.

There’s a parking problem. Total public parking behind Cedar Lee will be reduced from 541 spaces to 152 spaces. All surface parking on the entire lot behind the Cedar Lee Theatre will be eliminated. The parking garage holds 377 cars, but by agreement 225 spaces are reserved for tenants.

There’s a traffic problem. Cedar and Lee are congested during rush hour and Top of the Hill and other apartments are coming online this summer. And, don’t forget the high school traffic.

There’s a giveaway problem. The mayor and city council propose leasing 5 acres for $10 a year (and [the] lease is transferable), and the developer has the right, in year 40, to buy all 5 acres of this prime commercial property for $10.

We need a better plan. Let’s put forth the effort to go beyond a mediocre solution to an excellent solution. We can have both a 1.07-acre public park and a great new development on the 5-acre site—a much better plan than the one now on the table. To protect your wealth and the vitality of the Cedar-Lee district vote YES on Issue 9.

Fran Mentch

Fran Mentch initiated, and thanks the large grassroots effort that created, Issue 9. She is chair of the executive committee of the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club group, and is a community activist who worked to turn the former Oakwood Country Club into a Metropark, not a Walmart.

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 3:03 PM, 04.27.2022