Back To Work- Council 09.05.06

City Council was back to work after its August recess, although council committees maintained their work schedules. Members heard a mid-year finance report and the public works committee continued its education on how to make Lakewood bike friendly.

In a resolution, Mayor Thomas George and council honored one of the Lakewood Observer's own- Ivor Karabatkovic. His work appears in our paper and the Lakewood Times. He won first and third place in state and national levels in the National PTA Reflections Arts Competition. His proud parents posed with Ivor while someone else took the pictures for a change.

A housing committee report and two communications from council members highlighted aesthetic concerns. The housing committee report emphasized the increasing number of abandoned shopping carts throughout the city. Council members Nickie Antonio (at large) and Ryan Demro (ward 2) suggest that the ordinances pertaining to the wayward carts are not effective. An increase in fines to the stores owning the carts was suggested because the present fines do not recover the cost of cart retrieval by the refuse department.

Antonio and Kevin Butler (ward one) both pointed out concerns about the condition of tree lawns on newly rebuilt streets such as Belle, Indianola, and Overbrook avenues. A combination of bad fill, poor topsoil, and sub par grass seed has led to weed infested tree lawns. Public Works Director Tony Beno pointed out that Indianola and Overbrook were projects from the last administration and are over three years old. Initial remediation estimates are $6,895 for weed control and reseeding.

Beno said that for recent projects on Wascana and Chesterland avenues, the city made the contractor, Terrace Construction, pay for the necessary corrections. The extent of the problem on Belle is being evaluated before any estimates can be made.

Beno was concerned that if the city agrees to repair a three-year-old problem that might not even be the fault of the city, "It could open a can of worms." To avoid any misplaced blame in the future; contracts will specify the use of adequate top grade topsoil and premium seed. "That way, a first class tree lawn is turned over to the resident. After that, it's the homeowner's responsibility to maintain the new lawn."

Jennifer Pae has been the Acting Finance Director since February. A search committee, comprised of Betsy Shaughnessy, Jennifer Hooper, Ken Laino, Jeff Endress, and Ed Favre, was formed to permanently fill the position. These people represent some of Lakewood's major institutions such as the schools, hospital, and chamber of commerce.

In corridor comments (exclusive to the Observer), Mayor George indicated that this makeup was deliberate. "I always want to look at ways to cement the relationship of our major institutions so that we can work together. This search committee is one example of that process."

The committee recommended that Pae assume the finance director slot permanently. In his letter to council George pointed out her academic and professional qualifications and added "not only does her family live in Lakewood, Ms. Pae was born in Lakewood Hospital."

Planning Director Thomas Jordan then presented a resolution to provide a development retention grant of $20,000 for the Beck Center to analyze its physical plant. The Beck Center for the Performing Arts has been approached by the developers of Crocker Park Shopping Center in Westlake to relocate their facilities and programs. In its public statements the board and management of Beck has not indicated their future plans. Because of the possibility of the Beck leaving Lakewood council members Demro and Butler wanted assurances that the grant would be used to bolster Lakewood's case for keeping the Center rather than supporting a move.

Jordan indicated that the city wanted to work with Beck to help it succeed and keep its operation in Lakewood. Mayor George emphasized the positive economic and cultural impact that the Center has on Lakewood. The grant request will go to the committee of the whole to clarify its terms.

Council then considered eight liquor permit applications. Earlier in the meeting member Butler sent a letter to council suggesting a comprehensive examination of how council addresses the concerns of residents about some bars and their patrons. Safety committee chair Edward Fitzgerald (at large) singled out one application, for a permit transfer at Cronie's Tavern on Detroit, indicated that the new owner had no experience in the tavern business, and wanted the applicant to come before the committee for further discussion before the transfer was approved.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:40.
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Volume 2, Issue 19, Posted 3:03 PM, 09.13.06