Catch A Train? Neighborhood Car Rental?

Have you had ever thought about riding a train out to the western suburbs or downtown? Or how about a neighborhood car rental? Council put the “wheels” in motion on those two ideas at its meeting of January 16, 2007.

First, council approved the contract between Firefighters and the City. This was reviewed at a committee of the whole meeting last week and approved by a unanimous vote. Council president Robert Seelie commended the administration and the firefighters for achieving an agreement efficiently and quickly. Mayor Thomas George pointed out that a new procedure of quarterly meetings between the union and the city resolved many issues early on so that the negotiations could be conducted on the main issues.

Another committee of the whole report recommended passage of the Clifton Boulevard Streetscape Enhancement Project which was produced by the Planning Commission and presented at the last meeting. Planning Director Thomas Jordan indicated that the series of public hearings which provided input to the plan was the most extensive for any project of its kind in Lakewood. The hearings took place over the past year and were held in various locations throughout Lakewood as well as one in Cleveland. Clifton Boulevard is a main artery connecting downtown with the western suburbs so input from the Cleveland perspective was helpful according to Jordan. Preceding this project will be the replacement of an old water main along the entire length of Clifton. This upgrade will dramatically improve fire safety north of Clifton with more fire hydrants which can be supplied by a bigger water main. Council passed this Planning Commission report.

Changes in store locations or ownership in many cases require liquor permit transfers. Such was the case when Topps went out of business. Giant Eagle moved into that location, and the new sidekick operation to the grocery store, GetGo gas, at the former Sunoco location at Manor Park and Detroit. In the particular jargon used in liquor permits, council voted “not to object” to transfers of the permits to the new owners.

Observer readers will recall an article written by Edward Favre of the administration which explained the history of the Nickle Plate railroad through Lakewood and how, today, that line could be used for a commuter rail line between downtown Cleveland and the western suburbs.

Mayor George has indicated that there is a strong interest among the westshore mayors in this idea and he put in front of council a request to NOACCA (Northeast Areawide Coordinating Agency) for funds to further study this idea. That agency is responsible for regional transportation planning and is a conduit for federal transportation funds to localities.

To continue the transportation theme, council members Nickie Antonio (at large) and Mary Louise Madigan (ward 4) sent a communication to council about car sharing. This is actually a car rental program that is neighborhood based. It is known as CityWheels in Washington D.C. and Seattle, Washington. Basically, if a person wants to rent a car for a few hours for local trips or errands this usage falls in between a longer term car rental and public transportation. So this “car sharing” would fill that gap. According to Ryan McKenzie who is starting this service in Cleveland, a city provides a few centralized, public parking spaces where the rental cars can be parked. A customer sets up an account online with the service, is provided with a key fob to the cars which can then be programmed to allow the cars to be unlocked according to online reservations.

The benefit of this system is that an individual doesn’t have to buy a car for transportation but rather can have the use of a car for short-term needs. The benefits to a community are fewer cars on the road which means less congestion and pollution and more transportation options for people.

McKenzie says that the only qualifications to rent are minimum age of 21 and accident free or three points or less on a drivers license.

Antonio and Madigan are requesting that the public works committee explore how the city might work with CityWheels to start such a program.

Finally, Finance Director Jennifer Pae requested authorization to purchase a brand spanking new MICR Check Laser Printing System. Look to future issues of the Observer for complete coverage of this space age machine (no pictures of sample checks, however).
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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 3:03 PM, 01.21.07