Join a community of volunteers

When we choose to volunteer, we expose our inner voice to the world: I believe in this cause; I support this candidate; I believe my neighborhood needs this service. Doing so naturally connects you with others who feel the same way. And just like that—you’ve built a community.

You meet new people or see others in a new light. You uncover local history and meet civic and business leaders. Your understanding of the Heights as a living, growing entity becomes clearer. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon be thinking, “What next?”

Through FutureHeights’ Crowd Sourced Conversations, you’ve told us that you feel invested in this community. I would like to challenge you to develop a deeper sense of belonging in the Heights through volunteerism.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:35 AM, 09.29.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council needs change

I am adding my voice to [those of] other Cleveland Heights residents who have expressed frustration with a city council that is failing procedurally and substantively.

The council president’s lack of leadership has resulted in council operating without formal rules or procedures, voting on legislation without sufficient information, refusing to address major issues facing the community, and exhibiting uncivility.

CH City Council doesn’t have formal processes for meeting, or researching, drafting, and discussing legislation. Former council member Josie Moore took the initiative to write and circulate a draft of policies and procedures for council to discuss and work from. The draft is thoughtful, logical, and sensible.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:32 AM, 09.29.2023

Cleveland Heights council president urges unity

This council has been a very productive council. In 2022, we passed about 183 legislations and we are on track this year for about the same amount. This council has moved the city forward quickly in many ways and has a good legislative and budgetary record.

A few accomplishments include:

  • Unprecedented budget hearings over five days resulting in a more diligent process, resulting in a more thorough understanding by council.
  • We passed major legislation such as the Pay-to-Stay extension; Cedar Lee Meadowbrook Development and the starting of construction; the lead-free homes initiative; making city fringe benefits fairer for LGBTQIA+ employees; banning conversion therapy; enacting and seating a Charter Review Commission.
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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:31 AM, 09.29.2023

Cleveland Heights needs servant leaders like Hart

When I first met with Melody Hart in 2021, to learn more about her run for mayor of Cleveland Heights, she struck me as less a politician and more of a servant leader.

I knew she was involved in many social justice issues, including canvassing in the Noble neighborhood with volunteers from Greater Cleveland Congregations in a successful effort to call banks to account for at-risk properties they owned on otherwise well-kept streets. I was also aware of her work with her husband, Gary Benjamin, in rescuing a Haitian refugee from detention at a local ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) refugee center and hosting him in their home until he was able to secure employment and housing. 

Melody’s calm and unassuming presence might make one wonder what she is doing in the sometimes rough-and-tumble world of city government. Yet, Melody has proven her mettle as Cleveland Heights City Council president.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:29 AM, 09.29.2023

Cleveland Heights residents deserve good governance

From the moment I got involved with Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) in 2019, I have been thinking about what makes a good city council, a productive municipal government, an efficient city hall.

I know there are educated professionals who spend their professional time contemplating and learning about these things; people who seek Master of Public Administration degrees, study municipal government, and generally do actual professional work in this area.

I am a Cleveland Heights resident with none of those specific professional degrees or concentrated studies—but I’m a resident who thinks our city government can strive to meet best practices for good governance.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:30 AM, 09.29.2023

Candidates should endorse SAG's vision for Severance

Namdar Realty purchased Severance Town Center in 2016, and, like many other struggling and distressed malls that Namdar owns, Severance’s occupancy and condition has continually declined—except, notably, for the independently owned Dave's Market and the Home Depot. Otherwise, the face of Severance is one of many empty storefronts and buildings (most notably the former Walmart and Regal Cinema buildings) and a sea of pothole-filled parking lots.

This deteriorating property in the center of Cleveland Heights has begun to adversely impact surrounding areas and to attract vandals, most recently those who trashed the interior of the former Walmart store.

True to its business model, Namdar profits from the rent paid by the remaining businesses, spending as little as possible on maintenance, and nothing on creative redevelopment planning that would attract additional businesses and residents to the community.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:23 AM, 09.29.2023

Use your local arts resources

In the past month or two, Crain’s Cleveland Business published no fewer than four articles and opinions about the importance of arts to the future of Greater Cleveland: "Investments in artists pay dividends for regional economy," by Jeremy Johnson; "Businesses that value innovation should support creativity of local arts scene," by Fred Bidwell; "To thrive, Greater Cleveland needs to integrate art into all aspects of life," by Jennifer Coleman; and "Region buoyed by abundance of talent, creativity," by Grant Segall.

Many lifelong residents take for granted our vibrant arts and music scene, or, worse, don’t take advantage of it at all. Cleveland has arts institutions such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland Orchestra that have few peers on the planet, yet it is a medium-sized and livable city in which gaining access to these institutions is enviably easy, and where the moderate cost of living lets a broader population enjoy the “finer things” (as well as the delightful gritty things).

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:21 AM, 09.29.2023

Start Right is a CH success story

Cleveland Heights has problems. It has vacant storefronts. There is chaos at city council meetings. Taxes are high. But, sometimes, there are solutions. Top of the Hill is happening. Lee/Meadowbrook is underway. Taylor Commons has received approvals. Hoorays are in order.

Not as apparent are small and significant success stories. Some involve the renovation of distressed housing stock. Kudos to FutureHeights, the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and the Home Repair Resource Center for their efforts. Additional successes are projects to build new housing undertaken by Start Right Community Development Corporation (CDC), a nonprofit organization.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:19 AM, 09.29.2023

Resident initiative takes on CH's vacant home problem

Do you ever imagine what it must be like to live next to a vacant, dilapidated, and rat-infested home for years and, in some cases, a decade or more?

Walk in that neighbor’s shoes for a minute. For years, they've called the city for help. They’ve attended council meetings and complained, only to be thanked for their concern. They’ve received endless campaign literature addressing the “housing problem." They even voted for Mayor Seren, hoping for the change that was promised.

But that abandoned house still sits there. To make matters worse, the neighbor gets a city violation notice telling them to fix their uneven sidewalk.

Since 2008, the city of Cleveland Heights has addressed the housing problem with no actionable plan in place. It’s endless studies and listening campaigns. Meanwhile more than 500 vacant houses continue to fester in our city, property values drop, and tax dollars are lost to the tune of $2 million (500 homes x $4,000 in average property taxes) per year.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:01 AM, 09.29.2023

Coventry Village calls on residents to support urgent revitalization

As the sun sets over the iconic streets of Coventry Village, the once lively thoroughfare now reveals the shadows of vacant storefronts. The heart and soul of Cleveland Heights, Coventry Village is at a pivotal crossroads, with an alarming one in three of its commercial properties now empty.

We, the Coventry Village Special Improvement District (CVSID), alongside the passionate members of the Coventry Vacancies Working Group, are striving for revitalization.

I took on the role of executive director of CVSID with a deep appreciation for the district's unique charm and cultural significance. Today, I pen this call to action with a sense of urgency, appealing to the collective conscience of our community.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 11:35 AM, 09.03.2023

CH might now have a good city administrator

Mayor Seren is making his second attempt to fill the position of Cleveland Heights city administrator. And he offered an excellent candidate—he nominated Danny Williams.

Mayor Seren allowed this position to remain vacant for much too long. Daily tasks of local government require supervision by a talented professional.

The mayor previously hired Joe Sinnott as city administrator. But because Mayor Seren used him poorly, his talents were wasted. Sinnott resigned in April. Since then, the new form of government has not operated as designed.

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 11:56 AM, 09.02.2023

No Mow May raises awareness

We will not really know whether we were able to increase the diversity and abundance of pollinators necessary for our plants to flourish this season by not mowing in May. This would make a good research thesis for some graduate student. But one of the main goals of the No Mow May movement is to get people thinking and talking about the maintenance of their yards from an environmental perspective. In that respect, Mayor Seren’s declaring Cleveland Heights a No Mow May community was a huge success.

Because of this movement, people around the country and here in the Heights have been made more aware of pollinator declines that will eventually lead to ecosystem collapse. Biodiversity loss is on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2022 as one of the top three threats facing humans today.

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 11:55 AM, 09.02.2023

Hart gets things done for CH

When considering candidates for Cleveland Heights City Council, we should look at what they have accomplished. Melody Joy Hart’s record over the past four years includes some impressive legislative successes for our city.

Among other things, Council President Hart collaborated with the Cleveland Heights court, prosecutor’s office, and Home Repair Resource Center to create a diversion program for homeowners with housing violations that keeps them out of court and helps them repair their homes.

She proposed legislation and collaborated with her fellow council members to approve permanent extension of pay-to-stay legislation for tenants so that their homes remain stable, amending foreclosure bonds, out-of-county registry and vacant building registry, giving [legislation] more teeth and adding a civil option for prosecution of fines; . . .

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 11:34 AM, 09.02.2023

CH is a tale of two cities

A tale of two cities will continue to be my tagline for and reference to Cleveland Heights until city council and the mayor take action on more equitable efforts, including development and resources for the north side of the city. After all, this was the mayor’s top priority—equitable investment in the neighborhoods. I’m still waiting.  

In the noise around the Noble Station project, supporters want to use the term "affordable housing" to distinguish it from "low-income housing"—as if "affordable" is better or different. It's pretty much the same thing, when some rents will be as low as $400.

At the Aug. 7 CH City Council meeting, residents of Noble neighborhood showed up to oppose the plan. Noble Road has more than its share of low-income, affordable apartments in a span of several blocks; one more is NOT needed.

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 11:33 AM, 09.02.2023

The case for change on CH City Council

Things on CH City Council are not going well. The past 20 months have been marked by a constant struggle to get information from the administration, council’s failure to compromise on a replacement for Josie Moore, and council leadership’s inability to establish any rules or priorities after three retreats. The result has been a largely unproductive, unfocused, slow-moving, and sometimes adversarial city council.

There have, however, been moments where things have been calm and the business of the city moves forward as it should. The vast majority (98%-plus) of perfunctory legislation put forward by the administration moves ahead without incident.

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 11:28 AM, 09.02.2023

Hart is the council president CH needs

The heart of a true public servant is hyper-focused on what is best for the people they serve. Melody Joy Hart is hyper-focused on the city of Cleveland Heights.

Hart has truly leaned into her position as city council president and has turned what is normally a part-time job into a full-time effort to successfully and gracefully lead our city through this time of change.

Being city council president is not an easy task! Under a lot of pressure, and sometime provocation, Hart leads her colleagues on council forward to the betterment of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 11:26 AM, 09.02.2023

Vote yes for the constitutional amendment on Aug. 8

A constitution is the framework on which all other laws are based, and it forms the basis for our laws. Changes to it ought to be made with due diligence, weighing the issue carefully and with solemnity. Is it hard to change the constitution? Yes, and it should be.

A constitutional clause is not an individual, specific law on one issue. It addresses what laws can be included in our system. As Issue 1 states, the purpose of the amendment is to elevate the standards by which future amendments will be made. "Short-term passions and passing political trends would be less likely to impact the most sacred legal document in the state of Ohio." (www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2023/06/05/making-amendments-harder-protects-ohios-constitution-opinion/70202280007/) We need not amend the constitution in order to introduce a bill.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 3:01 PM, 08.01.2023

Vote 'no' on State Issue 1

On Aug. 8 voters will decide Ohio Issue 1 in a special election. A "yes" vote supports increasing the vote [required] to pass a constitutional amendment to a supermajority, 60%. A "no" vote retains the current, simple majority requirement.

In a bi-partisan manner, former Ohio governors Bob Taft, John Kasich, Dick Celeste and Ted Strickland, and former Ohio attorneys general, including Betty Montgomery, Jim Petro, Nancy Rogers, Lee Fisher and Richard Cordray, all strongly urge a “no” vote.

"If [this issue] had been in effect, many important amendments that are part of our political heritage would have failed, including . . . home rule, civil service reform, the Clean Ohio Fund [and] the Third Frontier Project,” said former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 11:25 AM, 06.30.2023

Vote yes on Issue 1

The U.S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times over its lifetime. The Ohio Constitution has been amended 172 times! Ohio is among nine states with the weakest standards for passing constitutional amendments.

This dizzying amount of change costs the state money, presents numerous legal challenges, and weakens the bedrock of the entire Ohio Constitution. Law should be contained in the Ohio Revised Code and not the Constitution. 

Constitutions should not be amended easily.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 3:01 PM, 08.01.2023

CH needs housing for the elderly

The Ascent? Check.

Taylor Tudors? Check.

Marquee at Cedar Lee? Check.

Eventually, Wellington Mews & Park Synogogue? Check. 

Is Cleveland Heights doing everything it can to remain relevant for the next 6-8 decades? Check.

EXCEPT... Housing for the elderly? No Check.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 3:00 PM, 08.01.2023

Horseshoe Lake supporters file lawsuit

Friends of Horseshoe Lake (FOHSL) has taken the next step in a legal effort, filing a lawsuit against the cities of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights to prevent the destruction of Horseshoe Lake by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).

This lawsuit follows demand letters issued by FOHSL to both cities, citing violations of their lease agreements with the city of Cleveland.

According to attorney Anthony Coyne, a land use expert with the law firm Mansour Gavin that is representing FOHL, the lease agreements require Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights to preserve the existing conditions, which include the dam and lake; perform necessary maintenance, such as dredging and cleaning; and undertake any required improvements to ensure the park's upkeep.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:30 PM, 07.31.2023

CH mayor weaponizes law department

The mayor of Cleveland Heights has weaponized the law department. I have been asked to pay for sewer repairs on public property or “appropriate enforcement action may be taken.” The sanitary is blocked and has backed up from city property onto my property. 

I confronted the mayor at the grocery store; he informed me that “[they] decided that the city would only take responsibility at the curb.”

I don’t believe the recent changes to our city charter allow the mayor to rule by fiat, nor is this the more responsive government we were promised. There is no local ordinance or state law that makes private citizens responsible for repairs on public property.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:38 PM, 07.31.2023

CH needs a real city administrator

There is a puzzle game called “Where's Waldo?” In it, a lot of faces appear closely together in a picture. The player is challenged to find that one face belonging to a character called Waldo. That face is hidden and hard to find. This past year, Mayor Seren set up his own such puzzle at Cleveland Heights City Hall. What was hard to find there was the face of the city administrator. The mayor kept it hidden.

The CH City Charter requires Mayor Seren to hire a city administrator. As of this writing, this position remains vacant. It has been vacant much too long.

Daily tasks of local government are to be supervised by a talented professional. The mayor then could be free to tackle big strategic issues.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:34 PM, 07.31.2023

Weak council leadership gives mayor too much power

In 2019, I, along with nine other Cleveland Heights residents, formed Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM). I was tired of stagnant leadership, and I often referenced Cleveland Heights as a tale of two cities: the vibrant, growing, and developed south side, and the red-lined, ignored, and voiceless north side.

I have no regret that [the elected mayor ballot issue] passed. I truly believed that we would finally have co-equal branches of government that would serve our city better than the city manager form of government.

Our council members are failing to get work done. Their disjointed efforts are often left at a standstill or stalemate of sorts, preventing priorities from getting completed in any timely manner.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:45 PM, 07.31.2023

Cleveland Heights needs leadership

I recently visited Lakewood for a great meal and stroll along the lake. What struck me were the notable differences between our cities. While Lakewood certainly has challenges to work through, what I didn’t see was a vast wasted property like Severance, nor did I see crumbling infrastructure in its parks.

Unlike Cain Park’s dilapidated gutters, broken retainer walls, frightening bathrooms, and accumulated trash, Lakewood's parks looked great.

I also didn’t see empty storefronts in its key business districts, compared with Coventry’s 19 vacancies.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:40 PM, 07.31.2023

Vote for change on CH City Council

As a longtime Cleveland Heights resident, I have seen—and experienced—the good and the bad of our city’s government. 

Lately, I’m afraid, I’m seeing and experiencing the very bad, right in our city’s council meetings.

The heart of our democracy is We the People. And We the People of Cleveland Heights are finding it harder to participate in our city government. Actually, we’re being actively and aggressively turned away.

It all began in January 2022, when newly elected Council President Hart decided to reduce the time allotted to each community member participating in the public comments part of council meetings from five minutes to just three.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:31 PM, 07.31.2023

Larson thanks CH residents for input, ideas

I recently released a survey asking for input from Cleveland Heights residents about your experiences living in our city, what you see as our strengths and challenges, and what you want for our shared future. I am grateful to have received so many responses—thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute your thoughts and ideas.

I am proud that people from all across Cleveland Heights put their trust in me to share their feedback in this survey. As many people agreed, one of our city’s greatest strengths is our diversity. I want to be sure I know what residents in every neighborhood want and need from our city government as we move forward.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:42 PM, 07.31.2023

Fire pits should be prohibited in warm months

This past May, the Cleveland Heights administration featured Air Quality Awareness Week. The online “City News Update” stated that "Cleveland Heights is working hard to find ways to lower our contributions to poor air quality and make this a lung-friendly city.” 

Recently, when smoke from Canadian wildfires was a health threat, “City News” advised us to “[t]ake steps to protect your health. Unhealthy air quality increases health risks for everyone, but is more worrisome for Sensitive Groups, those at risk for pulmonary episodes such as asthma.” And the Cleveland Heights Fire Department asked us to "[p]lease observe the current moratorium on open fires, such as fire pits, that generate smoke."

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 1:47 PM, 07.31.2023

Remembering the Lee-Meadowbrook mural

The Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook construction began recently—a development that will revitalize this key commercial district. While I am excited to watch it take form, I couldn’t help but also feel sad to see the mural wall come down.

In 2017, Krissy Dietrich Gallagher was tired of seeing the empty green wall in the vacant lot. Her idea: bring fifth-graders from the two nearby elementary schools to paint a mural. She originally thought to depict a garden, but her friend and project partner, Bill Schubert, suggested something more manageable for kids: houses.

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Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 4:55 PM, 06.29.2023

No Mow May—no way

When I first heard about "No Mow May," I was excited. I got the impression no-mow could encourage pollinators pollinating. Then I read a statement by a Cleveland Heights resident. After walking her two dogs on lawns that were knee high, she found three ticks on her companion animals.

Let's be clear: The incidence of tick-borne infection, such as Lyme disease, is greatly on the rise. One might say, so what, it can be treated with antibiotics. I worked as an RN and PA. Lyme can be difficult to diagnose. Without early diagnosis and treatment, the person can live with longstanding pain and suffering.

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Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 4:49 PM, 06.29.2023

Yard care can be more climate-friendly

I was thrilled to see the popularity of the recent exchange of gas lawn mowers for electric versions in Cleveland Heights. Even small changes in the way we care for our lawns and gardens can make a difference in our contributions to climate change.

One very simple thing we can do to decrease our carbon footprints is to replace part of our lawns with other plants that will take up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and need less carbon releasing care than grass.

A second approach, for the lawn we want to keep, is to switch from gas-powered tools to those run by electric batteries. According to the EPA, Americans burn nearly three billion gallons of gasoline running lawn and garden equipment.

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Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 4:47 PM, 06.29.2023

CH is becoming a city of dandelions

Cleveland Heights soon may cease to be a City of Trees and instead become a City of Dandelions. That would be unfortunate.

Mayor Seren unilaterally declared a “No Mow May” earlier this year. This allowed dandelions to grow unhindered for an extra month in the early part of the growing season. He issued an “executive order” to suspend the traditional city code enforcement of tall grass violations. He restricted mowing on such city properties as parks, empty lots, and boulevards. And he encouraged homeowners to follow this example. The result was an increase in visible blight throughout the city.

The mayor calls his program a “resounding success.” He received a lot of personal publicity.

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Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 4:45 PM, 06.29.2023

Heights Community Congress will be missed

After 50 years, Heights Community Congress (HCC) ended its existence on Feb. 28. We should consider what could have happened to Cleveland Heights without it.

HCC now receives justly deserved compliments for its consistent commitment to fair housing. But it did other good work during the 1970s and 1980s.

It helped Cleveland Heights survive as an open and integrated community. There was legitimate concern then that Cleveland Heights could not handle integration well and that “white flight” would result. HCC sought to make new residents welcome while also making existing residents comfortable in, and committed to, Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 16, Issue 6, Posted 9:15 AM, 06.01.2023

CH council must do better and embrace diversity

I watched in utter disappointment the behavior that occurred during the May 1 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting. Unfortunately, this is NOT the first time.

You hear about outrageous antics of council meetings across the country on YouTube and other social media outlets, and this came to mind as I witnessed some of our council members in action.

The lack of respect, the power control (efforts to turn off another member's mic, the uncontrollable gavel banging, the yelling), and the tone that exist among some of the members are unfortunate and embarrassing.

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Volume 16, Issue 6, Posted 9:03 AM, 06.01.2023

New air-quality monitors raise pollution awareness

The first week of May was recognized as Air Quality Awareness Week in Cleveland Heights. Each weekday [the city's website] featured a short video with Mayor Seren, along with facts about different air quality topics. (All of the news releases are available at www.clevelandheights.gov/304/City-News-Update-Archive.)

It was announced on day five that Cleveland Heights has installed five air-quality monitors that display data in real time. Their locations can be viewed at https://map.purpleair.com/1/mAQI/a10/p604800/cC0#12.85/41.49909/-81.56037.

These sensors detect fine particulate matter, called PM 2.5, suspended in the air.

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Volume 16, Issue 6, Posted 8:59 AM, 06.01.2023

Living with dementia in Cleveland Heights

My mother was in the late-middle stages of dementia when COVID hit, and I needed to move her into our family home in Cleveland Heights.

A 60-year resident of the city, she had been living alone with the help of many caregivers, neighbors and friends. When her condition made her retirement from her beloved career necessary, she and her huge yellow Labrador became a fixture in their Coventry Road neighborhood.

I am sure that I have many neighbors to thank for her freedom to roam and linger without harm. I know none of this would have been possible without the help of local librarians, shopkeepers, fellow church members and, at times, even the Cleveland Heights police. I am deeply grateful she lived in this familiar, close-knit community.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:34 PM, 05.01.2023

CH Dems work to overcome new barriers to voting

Despite analysts across the political spectrum finding that voter fraud is exceedingly rare, Ohio dramatically overhauled its elections law in January 2023. While the legislation is wide-ranging, I will focus on new voter ID requirements, considered by many to be the strictest in the country, and the impact they may have on students.

Before passage of the new requirements, students could use a bill from their college or university as a form of identification. This convenient practice was acceptable for over a decade, but now a student, or any other voter, may use only an Ohio driver's license, Ohio ID card, U.S. passport, or military-issued ID. While requiring a voter to use one of these forms of identification might sound reasonable to some, it's important to consider the impact that this requirement could have on voters.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:44 PM, 05.01.2023

'Equity and inclusion' is divisive propaganda

Cleveland Heights City Hall flies a Progress Pride Flag to show it is becoming friendlier and more inclusive to LGBTQ+ community members. The CH-UH library adopts a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan and offers seminars about The 1619 Project. These and other measures are meant to show that “equity and inclusion” is a social goal.

This goal may help members of selected groups feel more welcome. But it causes those who are not members of such groups to feel less welcome. It divides our community into factions. It fosters intolerance. It results in bigotry disguised as anti-bigotry.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:20 PM, 05.01.2023

Millikin neighbors thank school district

The playground at the corner of Maple and Wood roads is no longer the sad, dreary space it was as recently as 2019, when our group of civically minded volunteers began to turn it around.

The Millikin Neighborhood Group would like to thank the CH-UH City School District for its unwavering support. Since the group's inception, the district has been an invaluable partner to us. By allowing us to use the playground space at the former Millikin school, the district enabled us to continue our community-building efforts.

It has been gracious in advising us on what we may and may not do with the space.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:42 PM, 05.01.2023

Support the drive for a new Coventry park

It was early in my tenure as an elementary-schooler at the old Coventry Elementary School when a community of parents and civic leaders conceived, fundraised for, designed, and helped physically build one of our city’s recreational gems. It was an heroic effort, and the Coventry PEACE Park playground has been enjoyed by three decades of children—from me in the early 1990s to my four kids right now. It is an incredible edifice to the profits of community cooperation and engagement.   

The park is in need of renewal, however. Wooden playsets are typically slated to last 20 years; perhaps a bit more with quality maintenance.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:18 PM, 05.01.2023

CH needs low-impact lawn-care services

Cleveland Heights has a large percentage of senior-aged residents who choose to remain in the homes and neighborhoods they’ve made their own. All homes on our lovely, tree-lined streets require lawn and yard maintenance. As some residents become less able to, or less interested in, tending to yardwork themselves, they may turn to a lawn-care or landscaping service.

Most professional lawn-care equipment is designed for lots of an acre or more. Lawn-care businesses operate equipment sized for larger clients, including churches, schools, businesses and bigger residential properties. They service smaller residential clients with the same equipment.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:15 PM, 05.01.2023

New Coventry PEACE Park will benefit whole community

I can't believe it has been 30 years! It seems like yesterday that a small group of Coventry Elementary School parents had a crazy idea to build a big playground around the famous Coventry school sledding hill.

Somewhere after the first wave of volunteers, my wife, Debbie, and I got involved. This was a herculean task to raise a lot of money before social media existed. It was a grassroots approach, with donations gladly accepted, from $1 to $10,000. The power of the people got this amazing playground built.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:28 AM, 04.02.2023

Invest ARPA funds in CH parks

Recently Cleveland Heights residents were asked where ARPA funds should be allocated. The third most chosen response was “Offer Cleveland Heights residents more healthy and safe opportunities for recreation and socializing by investing in outdoor public spaces and amenities.” I fervently agree.

People converged on parks during the pandemic for space away from virus transmission. Once there, many encountered the feelings of peace and steadfastness that nature engenders. Whether we walk alone or with a friend (human or canine), a trail away from urban landscapes reconnects us to the natural world.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:25 AM, 04.02.2023

It's time for Ohio to fully fund public schools

In his budget proposal, Gov. DeWine has asked our legislators to fully fund the second phase of the Fair School Funding Plan (FSFP) for Ohio’s public schools. The General Assembly took a giant step forward for Ohio’s students and schools by enacting the Fair School Funding Plan in the last biennial budget. It is crucial that the next biennial budget include the second of the plan’s three phases. 

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:23 AM, 04.02.2023

CH City Charter appointment process works

Councils and boards typically have an odd number of members so that stalemates can be avoided. When there are an even number, stalemates are not uncommon.

This was the case several years ago in Cleveland Heights, where the appointment of a new council member took close to a year to be resolved.

After that, a charter amendment was put in place to require an appointment within 45 days. If the council has a stalemate, after 45 days the mayor appoints a new council member. This is common in most cities.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:06 AM, 02.28.2023

CH City Council should make council appointments

As we welcome our new [city council] colleague, the recent appointment of Janine Boyd has brought some questions to the minds of residents, who would like to know why the mayor, and not city council, made this decision.

The three of us would like to be very clear about this:

  • First and foremost, [we,] Council Members Larson, Russell and Cuda, believe council vacancies should always be filled by city council.
  • When no applicant appeared to have the support of at least four members of council, the three of us were willing to compromise and give up our first pick to consider several other qualified applicants.
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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:05 AM, 02.28.2023

Politics shouldn't interfere with CHPD

I once asked former Cleveland Heights Police Chief Martin Lentz why his officers did not exercise discretion when issuing parking tickets. He asked if I really thought a large group of armed, uniformed officers should have such discretion. I got his point. The potential for abuse would be enormous. Our police are trained to enforce laws, period.

Chief Lentz further expressed to me his belief in strict traffic law enforcement. He mentioned what he called the “felon community.” He thought people who break big laws frequently break small ones. He said drivers stopped sometimes were leaving the scene of a crime or had outstanding felony warrants. They could be armed. Traffic stops are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. They are not occasions for social work.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:55 AM, 02.28.2023

SAG continues planning and placemaking for Severance Town Center property

In 2020, a small group of Cleveland Heights residents began volunteering together and collaborating to examine ideas that might initiate the revitalization of the long-struggling Severance Town Center property.

The Severance Action Group (SAG) formed, and has invested considerable time, talent, and experience in this effort. In December 2022, we recognized the need to share our work with the Cleveland Heights mayor, city council, and the public.

Looking closely at the property's deteriorated condition, extensive vacancies, and lack of investment, we quickly concluded a complete transformation and bold action are necessary.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:03 AM, 02.28.2023

Moore's supporters deserve similar representation

Years before climate change, environmental justice, and Vision Zero became mainstream concepts, Mary Dunbar, former Cleveland Heights council member, recognized that the environment and the health of the community are inextricably interconnected. She became an advocate for a greener and healthier Cleveland Heights.

After Ms. Dunbar’s untimely resignation from council, Josie Moore stepped in to fill the vacated seat with a passion and clarity that was reassuring and energizing. She brought fresh energy and a platform befitting a city that perceives itself as progressive and welcoming. She offered a vision for a holistic and collaborative approach to decision-making that considered the potential impact of policies and projects on the economy, housing, social equity, and the environment.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:56 AM, 01.31.2023

I'm sad to say goodbye to Josie Moore

Those serving in public office sacrifice a lot. Many qualified people decline to seek election for that reason. Others decide after their election that the sacrifice is too great. One of those others is Josie Moore, who recently resigned from Cleveland Heights City Council.

Moore had ideas about how CH City Hall should operate under a new system. She thought the mayor and council members need to be “willing to reach out, discuss ideas and concerns, and be responsive to each other in a spirit of collaboration and problem-solving.” She called for leadership that sees civil disagreement as “an opportunity to find pathways for improvement.” She considered “open, ongoing, and respectful communication as the key to an effective working relationship that enables the achievement of our city’s goals.”

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:55 AM, 01.31.2023

Cleveland Heights is 'dementia friendly'

Six years ago, at the age of 62, I was diagnosed with early onset dementia. On that fateful afternoon, my wife, Emily, and I began a journey into the wilderness of dementia, disability and discernment. We had to accept the reality of my diagnosis: I had to retire early as dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland; Emily had to put our financial and legal affairs in order; and, together, we had to figure out how we were going to live with dementia.

One of the decisions we made was to return to Cleveland Heights. We gave up our newly built dream home in Detroit Shoreway for a 100-year-old house on Scarborough Road. Why? We wanted to be close to family and friends in a neighborhood where I had long-term, embedded memory. We wanted a quiet, safe, walkable community with parks and trees.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 12:00 PM, 01.31.2023

Clear snow for postal carriers

The Cleveland Heights U.S. Post Office is seriously understaffed, affecting not just our deliveries, but the health and safety of the postal carriers.

They are literally burdened with long hours in rain, snow, ice and mud trying to cover unfilled carrier positions. They are working in fatiguing and stressful conditions with increased potential for injury. In the worst situations, they are subject to robberies and shootings.

Cleveland Heights residents can help ensure postal carriers’ routes are as safe and unobstructed as possible. Remember, they are working long hours, into the evenings when natural lighting is dim. Many carriers may be filling in on an unfamiliar street.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:54 AM, 01.31.2023

CH speed-limit reductions add negligible travel time

I’m writing in response to Alan Rapaport’s opinion, in the January issue of the Heights Observer, regarding lowering speed limits.

Mr. Rapaport claims that lowering the speed limits on five roads will cause it to “take longer to get to shops, banks, restaurants, parks, libraries, churches, and schools,” and “will encourage drivers to seek faster shortcuts on side streets.”

After reading this, I decided to use Google Maps and some arithmetic to find out how much longer it will take.

From one border to the other, the lengths of Taylor Road, Lee Road, and Euclid Heights Boulevard are all about 2.7 miles. If one could drive all the way across the city without encountering stop lights or traffic problems, the trip would take 6.5 minutes at 25 mph, and 4.6 minutes at 35 mph.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:53 AM, 01.31.2023

Help rebuild Coventry playground

I first met Coventry playground on a fine July morning in 2000. 

Fate, in the form of a loan-repayment contract for my medical-school borrowings, had brought me to Cleveland from Seattle. My wife and I bought a home on Berkshire Road, not far from Coventry school. We flew to Cleveland with a few suitcases, our two young boys, and two cats. Mix-ups delayed the moving truck, which included the truly important stuff like tricycles, Legos and toys. What to do with these rambunctious boys stuck in an empty home?

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:48 AM, 01.31.2023

Problem-solving court takes on housing violations

A property owner stands before me to be sentenced for failing to paint the garage of a rental property in Cleveland Heights. The owner has acknowledged they have not yet brought the property into compliance, but believes that if they have another 60 days, the work can be done. I sentence the owner, but rather than impose hefty fines or even jail time, I suspend most of those traditional penalties and instead impose community control, often called probation. If the owner fails to bring the property into compliance, or violates any other condition of community control, I can reevaluate and revise the original sentence.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 7:01 PM, 01.10.2023

Reinvest in CH Community Center

A plan to permanently give up on the south rink at the Cleveland Heights Community Center recently brought residents to speak out at a city council meeting. I was among them.

Not every child wants to play hockey or figure skate, and the Cleveland Heights Speedskating program offers a fun, wholesome and exciting alternative. Our current members represent nine cities and seven schools. One of our skaters is now a member of the elite U.S. World Cup team.

Pre-pandemic, we had up six hours a week of practice ice. With the south rink closed, that’s down to 2.5 hours.

Apollo Ohno skated here twice in his journey to winning eight Olympic medals. In late November, we hosted 80 skaters from around the country for a national-qualifier skating meet. The meet used to be held over two days, and could accommodate far more skaters, but is now limited to a single day by the shortage of available ice time.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:38 AM, 01.02.2023

Severance Action Group works to develop plan

Many of us living in Cleveland Heights have been concerned for years about the steady deterioration of the Severance Town Center, formerly known as the Severance Mall.

We have watched the occupancy rate fall to well below 50%, and feared that we might lose Dave’s, Home Depot, Marshall’s and OfficeMax, the few remaining major occupants. We have seen horrific potholes develop that might cause a pedestrian fall, or damage a vehicle. And we could not see that anything was being done to address these issues. All of this in the very heart of our city and right next to City Hall.

A little over two years ago, under the auspices of the FutureHeights Planning & Development Committee, a small group of people, who felt that transforming Severance was an existential issue for Cleveland Heights over the long term, began to think about how Severance could be transformed.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:21 AM, 01.02.2023

Lowering speed limits was a bad decision

Ordinance No. 160-2022, introduced by Cleveland Heights Mayor Seren, was passed by CH City Council on Nov. 21. It lowers the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph on parts of five city streets, affecting portions of Euclid Heights Boulevard, Lee Road, Noble Road, and North and South Taylor roads.

These streets have had 35 mph speed limits for many decades. The new ordinance cites no history of incidents, nor does it cite proof of design problems.

It simply adopts the “ideal, principles, and concepts” of a utopian program developed in Sweden in the 1990s called “Vision Zero.” That program has as its goal “zero traffic deaths and serious injuries.”

Slowing traffic is Mayor Seren’s chosen way to achieve that goal.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:27 AM, 01.02.2023

A lead-safety ordinance is good, actually

I am writing in response to Alan Rapoport's opinion [in the December Heights Observer] regarding the lead-safety ordinance that was recently enacted in Cleveland Heights. In it, Rapoport stated, "Children are not busily eating paint chips." As someone who works with children on the autism spectrum, I am sorry to report that this is not always the case.

Many of my clients are diagnosed with pica, a disorder in which people eat objects such as clay, dirt, paper, and yes, even paint. Even neurotypical toddlers are known to put pretty much anything in their mouths, not hesitating to determine whether it is lead-based paint.

And children are not the only ones who might end up ingesting lead paint, as I'm sure pet owners are well aware.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:24 AM, 01.02.2023

Moore resigns from CH City Council

At the Dec. 16 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, I submitted my resignation from council.

I’ve done a lot of reflection on how this year developed—how our new council started, and where we are now. I recall beginning the year excited to collaborate with my new colleagues to make our community stronger, to work on the issues that are my driving force, and to learn all that I can in the process.

And while I did learn a lot this year, I did not learn what I had hoped to learn.

Among other lessons, I learned—or, rather, I finally came to accept—that I do not have the thick skin I thought I had. I care too much, I lead from my heart, and this is not an easy way to be in this world. If I could snap my fingers and be different, be tougher, in a heartbeat I would. But I need to accept this as a part of who I am.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 11:10 AM, 12.17.2022