LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / University Heights City Council meeting

MARCH 18, 2024 regular meeting

  • Public comments
  • Mayor’s report
  • City council reports 
  • Council actions
  • Staff reports
  • Committee reports

Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michele Weiss, and Council Members Christopher Cooney, Brian J. King, Threse Marshall, John P. Rach, Sheri Sax, and Win Weizer. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; Dennis Kennedy, finance director; and Brenda Mockbee, city engineer. The meeting ran for one hour and 55 minutes.

Public comments

Residents affiliated with the political action group “Moving University Heights Forward” explained the group’s petition to recall Mayor Brennan, citing alleged violation of the Ohio Revised Code and unprofessional conduct. One resident condemned the mayor for reportedly describing the resident as racist on a recent local podcast; an acquaintance of this speaker vouched for his character. Another resident, qualifying her statement as “mine only,” also discussed community grievances relating to Brennan’s administration. 

One resident expressed support for the recycling ordinance and praised council for revisiting loose curbside recycling collection.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Brennan reported two major developments regarding University Square. On Sunday, March 17, an agreement was reached with Macy’s at University Square so that redevelopment could proceed. On Monday, March 18, the sale of the University Square shopping center to KL Holdings (the developer working with the city) was approved and confirmed. Also, the Cuyahoga County Community Development Committee (CCCDC) approved $500,000 in ARPA funding for the planned redevelopment. He thanked numerous people for their assistance in bringing about these events and commented on the importance of perseverance.

City council reports 

Vice Mayor Weiss noted a meeting with Mayor Brennan on Wednesday, March 13, regarding plans for facilities, following the city’s recent acquisition of the Yeshivath Adath B’nai Israel (YABI) Building. They discussed plans to tour newly built facilities in Brooklyn, Ohio; the need to reconvene the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee in May to prepare applicable RFQs (request for quotes) to be sent out in May or June, and the importance of prioritizing police and fire in future plans. 

Weiss commented on University Square noting the need to arrange for the CIC (community investment corporation) to meet before their next scheduled meeting to create a second CIC to take control of the University Square garage.

Ms. Weizer addressed council regarding the mayor’s local podcast commentary, in which she had also been described as racist and wished to rebut the claim. She claimed the mayor misrepresented a conversation during a March 4, 2022 meeting in which citizens discussed use of ARPA funds to improve the west end of the city. She disputed that she had suggested building a spiked fence at the end of Jackson Blvd. to keep Black youth from cutting through as a shortcut. She asked the mayor to retract his allegations.

Council actions

Council approved a resolution recognizing the accomplishments of Luke McConville upon his departure as UH’s law director. After a 25 minute executive session to discuss matters relating to University Square, council appointed Bradric Bryan as the new law director effective April 1. Council authorized an engagement letter with Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper, LLC for ongoing legal services to enable the city to retain Mr. McConville’s services on specific matters, including legal proceedings regarding the YABI building, Aleksander Shul, and University Square.

Council authorized, on emergency, an agreement with Yeshivath Adath B’nai Israel for the purchase of property at 2308 Warrensville Center Road for $1.05 million.

Council amended, on emergency, a loose recycling ordinance to establish opt-in, curbside loose recycling. Backyard trash pickup is unaffected. The ordinance offers residents who opt in one of two sizes of recycling carts, education about recycling, and accommodations for backyard or side door pickup should they request it.

Council authorized an additional $5,185 for the 2023-24 Tree Pruning and Removal Contract, bringing the total contract cost to $54,853, to cover additional work discovered through reports from residents as work was being done. 

Council accepted a 2024 Community Recycling Awareness Grant Award of $6,000 from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District. These funds will pay for two postcards to be mailed to city residents in the spring and fall regarding appropriate recycling practices and the new recycling program.

Staff reports

Finance Director Kennedy reported that the city started the year with a little over $6 million in its general fund and $10,745,923 across all funds. Since then, it has added $4,698,737 in revenue to the general fund ($5,997,177 to all funds) and used $3,715,336 for general fund expenses ($4,621,903 total expenditures from all funds). The unexpended balance of the general fund is $6,988,011 ($12,121,191 across all funds). Income tax collections are down 1.3 percent from the first quarter of 2023, which he claims is due to a refund processed this January that was not processed last year.

Law Director McConville urged council to approve purchase of the YABI building, on emergency.

Police Chief Dustin Rogers had no report but spoke briefly with Vice Mayor Weiss on the need, given future plans for facilities, for obtaining relevant info from neighboring communities regarding RFQs and safety engineers/architects.

Housing and Community Development Director Geoff Englebrecht had no report. Responding to an inquiry by Ms. Weizer, he said an updated letter to residents regarding exterior inspections should be ready by the end of the week.

City Engineer Mockbee reported the start of projects to resurface tennis courts, undertake pavement marking, and repair water pipes along Silsby. 

Communications/Civic Engagement Director Mike Cook was absent, but the mayor said he is working on a project to mail two pieces of protective eyewear to all University Heights residences in advance of the coming solar eclipse 

Committee reports

There were no committee reports or discussion beyond the scheduling of meetings, none of which had definite dates. The Building/Housing Committee is looking to set up a meeting before the second April council meeting. The Finance Committee and the Committee of the Whole should be meeting in May. Polls are in process to determine meeting dates for the Community Outreach Committee and Recreation Committee. 

LWV Observer: Leah Davydov.

Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.universityheights.com/council/

Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of University Heights” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA82j5L_CkQxK9cXP_qrXvw/videos

Read More on University Heights
Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 11:48 AM, 04.30.2024