LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / University Heights City Council meeting highlights

APRIL 1, 2024 regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Mayor’s report
  • City department reports
  • Council actions
  • Committee reports

Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan and council members Michele Weiss (vice mayor), Christopher Cooney, Brian J. King, Threse Marshall, John P. Rach, Sheri Sax, and Win Weizer. Also present were Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas, Law Director Bradric T. Bryan, Finance Director Dennis Kennedy, and City Engineer Brenda Mockbee. The meeting ran for about two and three quarter hours.

Before the meeting started, the new law director, Bradric Bryan, was sworn in. 

Public comments

A resident criticized the mayor’s comments regarding costs of a special election and lawsuits against the city and further stated that the city needs a mayor who is fiscally responsible, able to control anger, and can work collaboratively with city council, staff, and residents. Another resident complained of harassment by supporters of the mayor after her comments from the prior meeting regarding the recall effort. She said the mayor could end the recall action and simply resign for the greater good of the city.

A resident asked that a recent study showing benefits to narrow lanes be considered during the Warrensville Center Road resurfacing project.

Mayors report

The State of the City address will be Thursday, April 11 at the University Heights Library and will build on last year’s theme of moving University Heights forward. Wednesday, April 3, city officials will tour Brooklyn’s new combined city hall and police station. Detroit based Lefty’s Cheesesteaks will have its grand opening Thursday, April 4. Sunday, April 7, there will be a dedication of the new torah scroll for the Aleksander Shul. There will also be the spring concert of the University Heights symphonic band in the atrium at the John Carroll University Dolan Science Center. Monday, April 8, there will be music, children’s activities and Odd Dog Coffee truck at Walter Stinson park for the eclipse. The city is delivering eyewear to households across the city for viewing of the eclipse.

City department reports

Finance Director Kennedy provided a review of all funds. There should be an influx of income tax revenue in the next two weeks. He is currently working through the 2023 audit, with auditors on site the week of April 15.

Police Chief Dustin Rogers had no report, but council raised two questions: 1) about a fingerprinting program for kindergartners and 2) about congestion at Lefty’s restaurant’s grand opening. For the first question, the chief said he would look into using fingerprinting kits for the kindergarten program and there would be police at Lefty’s opening to handle congestion.

Fire Chief Robert Perko reiterated the importance of using ISO certified eclipse safety glasses for viewing the eclipse on April 8, such as those provided by the city. 

Service Director Allen Pennington announced that spring cleanup started today. The annual pre-Passover food collection takes place Monday, April 22. More than 600 households have already opted in to the new loose recycling program. Responding to council members’ questions, Mr. Pennington said there were three reasons for residents to receive assistance in moving the containers to the curb: age (75 yrs or older), disability (specifics are not requested), and “other” for which the resident can provide additional reasons. The responses are confidential and reviewed by Mr Pennington for approval. Medical information provided would be confidential, but Mr. Bryan will also review the information to determine if anything other than medical could be subject to a request for public information. If any resident is concerned about providing confidential information they should reach out to council.

Interim Chief Building Official John Cheatham answered questions regarding the status of permits for Lucky’s and the ongoing work at Whole Foods. 

Director of Housing and Community Development Geoff Englebrecht said the grass cutting bid was resent and the city will review responses from two companies. Responding to a question from Ms. Weiser, he said the exterior letter to go to those residents subject to inspections needs a final review before sending. Council members discussed the process and overly long time (five months) taken to create the letter.

City Engineer Mockbee has been reviewing various plans for upcoming work including street repair, the Silsby water issue, and the Yabi survey. 

Director of Communications and Civic Engagement Director Mike Cook said information regarding the new loose recycling program should reach residents at least three times in various ways by the end of May. Ms. Weiser asked about the recreation survey, in particular the question about a dog park. Mr. Cooney responded that the question was simply to gauge interest. There were no specific plans.

Council actions

Presented on first reading with no vote was an ordinance to allow Cuyahoga County to resurface Warrensville Center Road from Fairmount Blvd to Cedar Road in University Heights. Eric Mack, representing the county, presented the Warrensville Center Road resurfacing project, which the county would oversee, as it spans two communities (South Euclid and University Heights). NOACA (Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency) will cover most of the cost with the cities and county contributing about 10 percent each. Additional grants have been identified for application to cover some of the city’s costs. An RFQ (request for quotes) went out Feb. 1 and the county is reviewing three responses. Preliminary design would begin summer or fall 2024 and final construction would end fall 2027. The city wouldn’t receive invoices until fall 2025. The communities would be involved in decisions for each phase along the way. 

Council authorized the city’s participation in a consortium to invite bids for solid waste services. with bidding to begin in June and an award made in September. 

Council authorized the city’s participation in a consortium for recycling services, similar to the solid waste program. This would determine what specific items can be recycled. 

Presented on first reading, with no vote, was authorization of the WallacePancher Group, Inc. for design engineering and construction administration for the 2024 street repair program. There are two concerns about this ordinance: The ordinance would waive the $50,000 threshold for projects to be bid and the project would be over the budget. The State of Ohio has just raised the state’s threshold for bidding from $50,000 to $75,000. A discussion was held on the budget for the work, how it was developed, and where it could be reduced. A potential $46,000 offset from the county could bring the total down. Ms. Mockbee and Mr. Pennington will put together final numbers for the contract, including the offset, for the next council meeting.

Council approved a motion for a five-year lease-to-own agreement for a 20yard GS Products MidStar Automated Side Loader Dump Truck with the annual yearly cost of $71,466.81. Because Ms. Weiss noted, after consulting the law director, that this action should be an ordinance, not a motion, the approval was contingent on an ordinance being prepared, and a lease document would not be issued until the ordinance passed. The government website SourceWell was used to get a competitive price without actually going for bid.

Committee reports

At its March 25 meeting, the Recreation Committee created a pool fee schedule, which was provided to the mayor for consideration. The committee discussed estimates for the fire, police and service overtime requirements for Fall Fest and Juneteenth events. Other items reviewed were tennis court repairs, construction of two pickle ball courts, and improvements for notifications for use of the courts, tennis lessons, etc. 

April 3, the Committee of the Whole will tour the Brooklyn City Hall Complex. The facilities and infrastructure subcommittees have been invited to join the tour. In May, the Committee of the Whole and sub-committees will discuss assessments of the tours with the goal of beginning the police and fire plans as phase 1 of the city’s facilities plans. City Hall would be discussed if funding is available. The Committee of the Whole will also discuss updating the professional service ordinance. 

LWV Observer: Tanis Swan.

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 11:49 AM, 04.30.2024