April Fools Over

Council reporting was diverted somewhat in the past month because of attention paid to internal council conflicts and the Observer’s efforts to make up to the minute reports. Despite those detours there were regular agenda items that were temporarily overlooked but will now be revisited.

In stark contrast to the fissures in council was the brick and mortar stability represented by Charles Barrett, retiring Building Commissioner. After accepting the resolution honoring his service from Mayor Thomas George and council Barrett deservedly took a few moments to recollect on his tenure as Lakewood’s Building Commissioner. He started out by mentioning that he, his father, and his grandfather were all plumbers. He deadpanned that this background made for “lively” conversation at family gatherings. He constantly tried to find solutions to building problems that would benefit the property owner as well as follow city guidelines. During his remarks of his pride in his job and devotion to the city, an observer could see the glint of recognition in other department heads eyes while they listened to a kindred spirit.

Continuing with the resolutions Kevin Butler (ward 1) and Ryan Demro (ward 2) presented a resolution honoring Cub Scouts Hayden Bish, Hugh Campbell, Daniel Crompton, Luke DeBaltzo, George Harkenrider, Blue Keough, Kyle Masters, Cooper Strachan, and Christian Styles for being awarded Cub Scout’s highest award, the Arrow of Light. Even though their picture appeared in the last Observer issue such an achievement is worth repeating.

Westlake Avenue is the dividing line between ward one and two. It is a narrow street and because of that speed limits have been of concern to council representatives for many years. This time Demro and Butler of those two wards teamed up to request a traffic study of that street. This is a necessary first step for determining a safe speed limit. Specifically, they would like the limit reduced to 15 miles per hour which is common for an alleyway.

Speaking of streets, this time of year always brings out orange barrels and cement barricades: it’s repaving time. In a preliminary list of streets to be resurfaced this year was Woodford Avenue. The City Engineer’s Department started design work for that job and determined that the water main needed replacement. Funds for street, sewer, and water main replacement come from several sources. In this case, the money for water main replacement for this year had already been budgeted. City Engineer Dennis Albrecht detailed the costs of the resurfacing, the water main replacement and the design work and therefore thought it prudent and economical to delay for one year the Woodford job so it could all be done at once.

Butler thought the residents of Woodford had been led to believe that the resurfacing would be done this year and that therefore, the water main replacement money should be found. He wanted his fellow council members know how the residents felt and several voiced their concerns. One resident, Thelma Mariani, had a detailed chart of her history of meetings and phone calls with the city about the resurfacing project. She pointed out that Woodford was going on forty years between repaving. As to finding the extra money needed for the water main to do the project this year she pointed out that Arliss Avenue scheduled for this year would cost about the same and in her opinion its condition warranted the delay, not Woodford.

This brought an immediate response from Mary Louise Madigan (ward 4). Arliss is in her ward. She said that the two streets were not comparable. Madigan pointed out that according to the rating system the water main was a number one, a worse rating than number four for Woodford. “There is a real danger in pitting one group of citizens against another, and I don’t want to do that,” she said. Butler indicated that he just wanted to have the facts aired so that those residents now understood why the project was being delayed a year.

As a footnote to the street repaving issue it might be recalled by Observer readers that three years ago when choosing the streets to be resurfaced, Michael Dever (at large) and the then ward one councilmember Patrick Corrigan climbed into Corrigan’s minivan and personally drove the streets for a final selection. Since then, Albrecht instituted an objective and engineering based evaluation method for scheduling street rebuilding. Using that method to schedule street repairs was agreed to by council so as to avoid the personal or non-objective selection of streets. That way the overall good of the city would be the end result if all council members agreed to adhere to the engineer’s schedule. These were the procedures agreed on by council in order to avoid an attempt at favoritism at the expense of another council member or part of the city. Albrecht also pointed out that the city has to respond to state and county projects that might require redirection of money, such as are Detroit Avenue and Clifton Boulevard, which are state routes.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 11:18 AM, 04.29.2007