Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights

MAY 6, 2024 - regular meeting

  • Public comment
  • Parks and garages
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Sewer district
  • Library renovations
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the whole

Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Tony Cuda (council president), Davida Russell (vice president), Craig Cobb, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., and Jim Petras. Also present were Clerk of Council Addie Balester, Law Director William Hanna, and City Administrator Danny Williams. Jim Posch was not present. The meeting ran for two hours.

Public comment

Five residents spoke in favor of the Nobility Court project and one in opposition.

Four residents commented on the city’s Noble Corridor planning project, stressing the need for new businesses and improvements to existing businesses and apartment buildings. One of the commenters suggested changes to the format of the public meetings; another demanded better accommodations at public meetings for attendees with mobility challenges.

One resident urged passage of the Cedar-Lee Special Improvement District legislation and congratulated the mayor for not repeating No Mow May.

A resident complained about the city’s failure to respond to his questions about EMS (Emergency Medical Services) billing of residents.

Linda Striefsky, Charter Review Commission (CRC) chair, announced a second public meeting for May 21, 6 p.m. at the Lee Road library for public comments on the draft recommendations, which will be posted on the CRC section of the city’s website by May 15. She thanked the city for supporting the CRC’s work.

Lynn Quintrell, owner of Appletree Books, criticized the city for not providing better parking for customers of Cedar-Fairmount businesses.

A resident thanked the city for supporting her efforts to improve the garden at Noble and Roanoke, asked for a simplified way to make requests, and urged better care of city-owned spaces.

Karen Rego, president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers’ Union local 795, described the backpack gifts to Oxford School students and thanked those who participated in the project.

Lita Gonzales, president of the Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund, described the organization’s history and its program offering tuition reimbursement to Cleveland Heights Police Academy graduates. She invited the community to the benefit at Boss Dog Brewing Company on May 19.

A resident expressed concerns about council’s appointment of Jim Posch to fill a council vacancy.

Alice Jeresko, representing Quiet Clean Heights, described dangers to air quality posed by gas-powered leaf blowers.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Seren commented that high-quality affordable housing is needed, thanked Start Right CDC and TWG Development, and encouraged the community to comment on the proposed TWG Nobility Court project. He committed to investing the funds received from the sale of the property, if it is approved, in the Noble-Nela district. The mayor described the goal of Grow More May, replacing last year’s No Mow May, as a way to replace all or some turf grass with pollinators, rain gardens, or other more productive plants. He urged residents to participate in the Urban Garden Project and displayed the yard sign available for participants. The mayor presented proclamations congratulating Heights High School students Caleb Green and Nico Bell for becoming National Merit Scholarship Program finalists.

Parks and garages

Kelly Ledbetter, director of Parks and Recreation, described the status of several facilities projects. Work on the Cedar Lee garage will be finished soon. Project scope and specifications are being developed for the Coventry and Lennox garages. At Cain Park, repairs to the amphitheater roof and dressing rooms are underway. Work is underway to develop a scope of work for Cain Park and to gather cost estimates for lighting and sound system upgrades. Repairs of cracks at Cumberland main and toddler pools are completed and the pool is scheduled to open for the season on June 3. In response to a question from Ms. Russell about the Denison Park splash pad, Mr. Ledbetter replied that the city will do some internal work before that project can proceed.

Clerk of council’s report

Ms. Balester reported that an application had been received to transfer a D5/D6 liquor permit from Butter Hospitality LLC dba (doing business as) Mojo to Leerest LLC dba Cozumel. An application had been received for a new D1 liquor permit for Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant LLC.

Sewer district

Matt Scharver, director of watershed programs for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, presented an update on the Lower Shaker Lake dam replacement project, including the project goals, timeline, and participants’ roles and responsibilities. A virtual public meeting, which will be recorded, is scheduled for May 20, 6-7 p.m. In person follow-up sessions will be held May 21 at the Shaker Nature Center from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.

Library renovations

Kim DeNero-Ackroyd, deputy director of the Cleveland Heights University Heights Library, presented an update on the renovated Noble Neighborhood Branch Library, which will reopen June 2, 2-4 p.m. The Shakespeare in the Park performances, previously held at Coventry, will be at the Noble branch this summer. She also described the plan for the Coventry Peace Park renovation. The current park will close June 17 with reopening scheduled for Dec. 8.

Council actions

On first reading as emergency measures, council

  • Authorized increases of $473,022 to the 2024 budget. 
  • Authorized an agreement with Wade Trim, Inc. for engineering services for SSO CH-30 (sanitary sewer overflow) on South Taylor Road at a cost of $150,200. 
  • Authorized purchase of a 2024 Ford F-350 DRW cab chassis and a 2024 Ford F-250 super cab from Classic Ford of Madison at a cost of $140,710 for the public works department. The resolution was amended to remove purchase of a 2024 Ford Escape. 
  • Authorized purchase of a Global M3 mechanical street sweeper and a V20 standard street sweeper from MTech at a cost of $515,459 for the public works department. 
  • Authorized several purchases for the police department including ten 2025 Ford hybrid police utility vehicles from Ken Ganley Ford at a cost of $475,409, purchase and installation of upfitting equipment (lights, sirens, controller, inmate transfer enclosures, computer mounting hardware, and wiring) for the ten vehicles from Hall Public Safety Upfitters at a cost of $131,776, and in-car and portable radios for the ten vehicles from Chagrin Valley Dispatch at a cost of $73,312. 
  • Approved the County 911 Plan as adopted by the Cuyahoga County 9-1-1 Program Review Committee and approved the selection of Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer-Gail to serve on the Cuyahoga County 9-1-1 Program Review Committee. 
  • Recognized May 10, 2024 as National Provider Appreciation Day to honor childcare providers. 
  • Acknowledged receipt from the Cedar-Lee Special Improvement District of a five-year public services and improvements plan and returned the plan without comments or recommended changes.

On second reading, council voted to support U.S. House Bill 82 (H.R. 82), the Social Security Fairness Act, which seeks to eliminate the government pension offset and the windfall elimination provision related to retirees’ Social Security benefits.

Offered on first reading only (no vote) were ordinances to:

  • Authorize and approve the presentation of entertainment programs in Cain Park in 2024, as an emergency measure. 
  • Establish a Cedar-Lee Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), in which businesses holding liquor permits may sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on their premises and within the DORA. Boundaries, hours of operation, sanitation and safety plans, containers, and signage requirements were described. Council will review the DORA in five years and may, at any time, amend or dissolve all or part of the DORA. 
  • Authorize the mayor to apply for and accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council 2024 Energized Community grants, as an emergency measure. 
  • Amend the purchase agreement with TWG Development LLC for 2228 Noble Road as an emergency measure. The amendment redefines the property, excluding permanent parcels 631-38-009, 631-38-010 and/or a portion of 631-38-008; adjusts the sale price to $216,000; and extends the closing date to 60 days after execution of a mutually acceptable development agreement.
  • Authorize a development agreement with TWG Development LLC for construction of a 52-unit affordable residential building at 2228 Noble Road, to be known as Nobility Court Apartments, as an emergency measure.
  • Establish procedures for review and creation of legislation by city council.

Council member comments

Ms. Larson reported that the Finance Committee received a report from the city’s ARPA consultant, Guidehouse, on the status of ARPA allocations to non-profits. For the Municipal Services and Environmental Sustainability Committee she described several Earth Month events and announced that cameras will be installed to monitor illegal dumping in the Caledonia ravine. She announced a number of events in conjunction with Bike Month. For the Public Safety and Health committee she thanked Police Chief Britton and Public Works Director Clinkscale for the recently installed Noble school traffic calming signage and police presence. She also described the events scheduled for We Are Noble, May 17-19, celebrating the Noble neighborhood.

Mr. Petras announced that the Housing and Building Committee would soon bring short-term rental legislation to the Committee of the Whole for discussion.

Ms. Russell announced that 30-minute workshops about HUD programs will be held before the Planning and Development Committee meetings. She also announced that over 290 backpacks filled with food, books, toys, and gift cards were distributed to Oxford school students. She thanked the Cleveland Heights unions, churches, and others who participated in the project. She also announced that another tenant-landlord law session will be offered on June 29, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Noble Library.

Committee of the Whole

Eric Zamft, director of Planning and Development, described the background of the Nobility Court project, including actions taken since the original proposal in 2022 and the city’s current Noble Corridor planning project.

Kelly Ledbetter, director of Parks and Recreation, reported on the status of planning for a dog park. Stressing that the plans are in the early stages, he outlined the advantages of Cumberland Park as the potential site, described possible amenities to be included, and estimated the cost as approximately $184,000, depending on details still to be decided.

Members discussed Mr. Cuda’s draft procedures for council’s participation in economic development projects. Mr. Cuda characterized the goals as providing a roadmap for council to consider proposed projects, avoiding surprises, and working with the administration. Mr. Mattox suggested that it is important for council members to be educated about current city economic development processes, roles, and responsibilities. Mr. Cobb stressed the need for flexibility since each project is different.

LWV Observer: Jill Tatem.

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:

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 2:30 PM, 05.29.2024