May 1, 2017 City Council Meeting

Animal Safety and Welfare Advisory Board

The Council passed Ordinance 19-17, revising the Animal Safety and Welfare Advisory Board code to provide greater authority on the Board’s part to advise on animal-related issues. In the past, the code restricted the parameters of the Board to issues specifically referred to it by Council.

Cornucopia, Inc. Concessions Lease for Lakewood Park 2017 Summer Season

In the last Public Works Committee Meeting, the City worked with Cornucopia, Inc. to revise the proposed concessions lease at Lakewood Park. Ordinance 20-17, legislation introduced to contract with Cornucopia, Inc. for the 2017 summer season at Lakewood Park, provides a space for the non-profit to sell healthy concessions to the public. Law Director Butler explained the new agreement takes into account concerns addressed by the Committee, such as trash receptacles and permission to sell natural sunscreen and bug spray. The Committee revised the hours of operation, as well, changing from park hours to pool hours. The Council enthusiastically adopted the ordinance.

Finance Committee Report

Councilmember Bullock moved to defer Ordinance 21-17, refunding $6.05 million of the outstanding 2007 general obligation bonds, and Ordinance 22-17, authorizing a defeasance of $670,000 for 1995 water revenue bonds, to the following City Council Meeting. Bullock assured he will have a full report at the following meeting, describing a presentation by the financial management team that shows “excellent work in saving taxpayers’ money.”

Fairview Hospital 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment

The Health and Human Services Committee met April 24, 2017.  Councilmembers Marx, Anderson, O’Leary and O’Malley, Mayor Summers, formal councilmember Sean Juris, Mike Meehan and Stephanie Switzer of the Cleveland Clinic Law Department, Drs. James Hekman and Judith Welsh of the Cleveland Clinic, Director Gelsomino of Human Services, Lakewood Clinical Manager Katie Kurtz, Gina Gavlak from North Coast Health, County Health Commissioner Terry Allan, and three members of the public all attended the meeting, which focused on the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment.

The Cleveland Clinic presented the assessment, evaluating health-related needs in the greater Cleveland area. The assessment identified the health professional shortage in the area and the percentage of residents without health insurance as problems to address. Councilmember Marx expressed her concern for uninsured community members, questioning the best way to secure health care resources for those without access. 

Dr. Hekman explained the new family health center will provide resources for respiratory diabetes, mental health, and cardiology services. Councilmember O’Malley noticed the assessment failed to address the ongoing opioid crisis, as well as mental health, remarking that drug rehabilitation and mental health should be a priority when discussing community health needs. In response, Fire Chief Gilman clarified the opioid crisis did not begin until after the assessment was complete. O’Malley contended, “If this is going to be a blueprint for what services are going to be provided at the family health center, we need to continue the conversation.” Anderson acknowledged the community’s empathetic approach to the opioid epidemic, identifying it as a mental health issue first, then a crime issue. Marx promised many future meetings involving Chief Gilman and the Cleveland Clinic in order to accurately address health issues facing the Lakewood community in order to find workable solutions.

Housing Committee Report

The Housing Committee met to discuss Resolution 8928-17, legislation expanding the City’s authority to purchase real property in Lakewood, not to exceed $70,000. Community member Pam Wetula came out to address her concerns of too much centralized power regarding the process. Wetula commented that while she appreciated the initiative to restore properties, she believed it is unfair to take property away from the public. She emphasized the City’s decisions in the past to “keep people out you think are undesirable,” contending a preference for an open bidding process for anyone who desires to live in Lakewood. 

Councilman Anderson assured Wetula the properties in question are those the market has not responded to, explaining the lack of interest in these properties at auction. Councilman O’Leary clarified that the authority is used very sparingly, starting in 2008 with the housing crisis (where the City improved eighteen properties), with approximately one house per year purchased for improvement thereafter. In addition, Director Sylvester provided an example of the program’s success, referencing a home on Dowd Avenue the City rehabilitated. 

Law Director Butler reassured Wetula that the City is very careful to avoid any abuses by the system. He explained that the City receives money from the federal government to provide housing opportunities for all kinds of people, which he insisted is treated very seriously. He explained Sylvester’s department oversees the projects, employing the best price and vendor to improve real properties, as well as providing backstops to guard against “friends” of the City receiving work.

Councilman O’Malley thanked Wetula for her concern, clarifying that the resolution truly aids vulnerable communities. O’Malley explained that he shared the concerns she raised, but he has witnessed the city improve properties that allow the marginalized to “afford their piece of the American dream,” something, he contends, they would be unable to do without the city’s involvement in the restoration process. After this healthy discussion, the Council adopted the resolution.

Lakewood Bike Month

May is officially Lakewood Bike Month, thanks to the passage of Resolution 8930-17. Councilmembers Bullock and Marx created the resolution as an initiative to reduce fossil fuel use and improve public health. Keith Pishnery and Ben Van Lear of Bike Lakewood, a volunteer advocacy organization affiliated with Bike Cleveland, had a presentation of special bicycle-related events, such as Bikes and Bands at Mahall’s (May 7) and Bike to School Day for Lakewood Middle Schools (May 10). On National Bike to Work Day (May 19), Bike Lakewood is donating coffee for cyclists before work, in front of Lakewood Public Library. 

Revising Lakewood Tattoo Laws

Councilmember O’Malley asked the Council to revisit Chapter 1793 of the city code, which prevents tattoo industries from opening in Lakewood. O’Malley contended tattoos are mainstream and the industry is professional, arguing revenue from tattooing generates $3 billion dollars annually in the United States. O’Malley expressed his desire for the opportunity for a “legitimate and mainstream industry” to exist in Lakewood, and the Council referred his request to the Human Services Department.

Mayoral Appointment to Lakewood Loan Approval Board

Mayor Summers appointed Ben Kline to the Lakewood Loan Approval Board.  The citizen board makes loans to low income and first-time homeowners, which supports the City’s housing initiative. The mayor thanked Kline for his time.

2017 Capital Lease Authorization

Finance Director Pae introduced Ordinance 23-17, entering into an agreement (with a yet-to-be-named financial institution) for the 2017 capital program, financing new equipment and vehicles, with a $1.7 million budget. The funding would provide for the Fire and Medical Squad, a dump truck for plow, four to five police vehicles, a refuse and recycling packer truck, and an upgrade to the Public Safety Computer Aided Dispatch and Data Records System. Council referred the ordinance to the Finance Committee.

Potential City Code Change, Regarding Animals and Fowl

Law Director Butler submitted Ordinance 24-17, an amendment to Chapter 505 in the City’s code, regarding animals and fowl. Butler explained the revision would update the code for penalty provisions, such as minor misdemeanors.  The Council referred the ordinance to the Rules & Ordinances Committee.

Public Comment

Lakewood resident Pam Wetula praised the work on the third charter amendment, thanking those involved for taking the work seriously. Wetula stressed the importance of placing important rulings in the chartered amendment, versus the codified ordinances, begging the group to remember that this work is supposed to protect the public and the City of Lakewood. She remarked that when accessing the third charter amendment, the public should be able to find a framework that protects them. She contended that procedures should not be open to change with each new administration, arguing it is the best way to protect the public.

Council Comment

Councilman Anderson thanked all of the volunteers involved with Keep Lakewood Beautiful for the Madison Park cleanup project, praising the good turnout and hard work.

Councilman Bullock looked ahead to the completion of work at Kids Cove Playground at Lakewood Park. He questioned if the City established an opening date, suggesting a public event to celebrate its creation and allowing use of equipment. Bullock remarked that the construction on the playground should be complete by June.

Law Director Butler shared that there is a murder mystery charity event on May 20 at Unitarian Universalist in Rocky Rover. The event, which also includes an auction, benefits the Lakewood and Rocky River Rotary Service.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 3:01 PM, 05.16.2017