Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights

DEC. 4, 2023 - regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Cedar Fairmount vacant store
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the Whole

Council members present were Melody Joy Hart (president), Craig Cobb (vice president), Janine Boyd, Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., and Davida Russell. Also present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Clerk of Council Addie Balester, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting ran a little under one hour.

Public comment

A Noble resident expressed appreciation for additional information about the Denison Park shipping container project that she received in Mattox’s committee meeting, but reiterated that if the pilot project does not work out, she hopes the containers will not remain in the Noble area.

Local architect Paul Volpe expressed satisfaction with the new structure and function proposed for the Community Improvement Corporation and the proposed Arts Commission.

Jack Slater, representing the Northeast Ohio branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, protested council’s resolution expressing support of Israel’s self-defense in the war launched by Hamas. Slater expressed the opposing view in support of the Palestinians.

A resident asked why American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are being held up and whether the necessary legislation will pass before the end of the year. Hart explained the technicalities of the revised city budget and reassured [the resident that] the vote would be held Dec. 18.

A resident and mother expressed outrage that Cleveland Heights youth seem to be an afterthought, citing cuts such as Safety Town, sports, pools, the skating rink, and recreation programming. She said opportunities she had in her youth are not available to her children. She maintained this neglect would make it more difficult to attract or keep young families in the community.

A Milliken resident opined that Cleveland Heights was not fighting to be the best, citing problems such as Severance mall, and suggested some legislative ideas to address Severance.

A mother and resident thanked the city for opening the ice rink this week. She advocated for more effective communication between the city and its residents, saying that staff consistently refer callers to the mayor rather than answering questions, creating a communications bottleneck with no answers.

Cedar-Fairmount vacant store

Assistant Director of Economic Development Brian Anderson introduced Sal Russo, owner of 12438 Cedar Road, the space vacated by Dave’s grocery store, and presented the city’s history of working with the Russo family. Russo requested financial support from the city to redevelop the vacant space. Using a slide show, Russo gave a comprehensive history of the grocery business at Cedar-Fairmount, noting that a grocery is still the best use of the space, but the current building does not conform to industry standards. Anderson added that tonight’s presentation was an introduction, and more specifics about funding will follow.

Council actions

Council presented several pieces of legislation but voted on none.

First readings included:

  • An ordinance for the allocation, appropriation, and expenditure of ARPA funds. It requires modifications due to the 2024 budget.
  • Amendments of the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to expand its board of directors to achieve greater community representation and expertise, and to replace the housing director with the director of the planning and development department as an ex-officio board member. The CIC was created in 2019 for the purpose of advancing, encouraging, and promoting industrial, economic, commercial, and civic development.
  • An ordinance to change the name of the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee of council to the Transportation and Mobility Committee.
  • An ordinance to establish a Climate and Environmental Sustainability Committee (CESC) to improve sustainability in the community through consideration of practical programs and policies, as well as public engagement to address environmental, resource, and energy challenges.
  • Appropriations for current expenses and other expenditures of the city for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2024.

Second readings included:

  • An ordinance to establish the Parks and Recreation Youth Advisory Board. After amendment, the legislation will receive a third reading.
  • A development agreement with WXZ CPV LLC, concerning redevelopment of the Taylor-Tudor buildings.

Third readings included:

  • The proposed Arts Commission legislation. Members of the arts community were invited to bring ideas to this evening’s Committee of the Whole meeting. The mayor will modify the ordinance and council will vote on it Dec. 18.
  • A different set of ARPA allocations to be voted on Dec. 18, after modifications due to the 2024 budget.

Council member comments

Mattox recapped the evening’s Planning and Development Committee meeting, at which the Taylor-Tudor redevelopment, the shipping container pilot project, and other items were discussed.

Russell announced a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee on Dec. 5, at which the committee will discuss dog parks, funding lifeguards at the high school pool, and employee relations and unions.

Hart spoke about the 2024 budget and its relationship to ARPA allocations, and assured that there will be a vote on Dec. 18. She also discussed the Arts Commission and the involvement of the arts community.

Committee of the Whole

A group of Cleveland Heights arts organizations proposed substantial changes to the Arts Commission. Council members and the mayor agreed to make changes. Council will vote on the amended ordinance Dec. 18.

Council discussed and agreed to table an ordinance dealing with transient, short-term rentals until Februay 2024, as it needs more work.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy. 

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at:

Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel:

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Volume 17, Issue 1, Posted 2:01 PM, 12.29.2023