City Commitment to LEAF Gardens & RTA Plans for Clifton

The April 6, 2009 council meeting was called to order at 7:37 P.M. by Council President Michael Dever.

The meeting began with a communication from Mayor Edward Fitzgerald regarding Lakewood Earth and Food Community’s (LEAF) usage of Lakewood parks for community gardens. LEAF used portions of four Lakewood parks last year to create community gardens. After the great success they experienced last year they are looking for an agreement with the city that would ensure them the usage of these spaces beyond that given to them by the city from year to year. For this reason Mayor Fitzgerald asked council, and whichever committee they saw fit, to look at how LEAF’s plans fit in with the city’s planned usage of the parks. Mayor Fitzgerald  continued to say that the reason LEAF is looking for a commitment from the city is because some of their members are looking to make some improvements and investments in their gardens and would like some assurance beyond that of the year to year.

LEAF member Dan Slife spoke at the meeting in support of the Mayor’s initiative and reiterated the reasons they would like to have a more formal agreement with the city. He also commented on how the gardens not only played a positive role in the community for those involved but also for the community at large. He specifically mentioned the impact he noticed on the people who frequented Madison Park and Madison Library and made mention of LEAF’s work with the youth group Help to Others (H2O) and the Lakewood Christian Service Center with hopes of working with the schools in the future.

The council voted to refer the Mayor’s communication to the Public Works Committee to look into the matter further.

Public Works Director Joseph Beno announced an ordinance that would allow the city to accept $250,000 dollars from the county to be used to help pay for construction on Bunts Road. Included in the construction would be the replacement of an 80 year old water main between Detroit and Madison and an asphalt overlay of the road from Clifton to Lakewood Heights Boulevard. The council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance.

Director of Human Resources Jean Yousefi asked council to repeal a section of Lakewood Codified Ordinances which gives compensation to city employees based on the amount of time they have served. She asked for this ordinance to be repealed because of the Administrations goal to reward employees based on merit rather then longevity. Included in her request was also an ordinance establishing a Bonus Merit System which would put the Administration's plans into action.

Director of the Department of Planning and Development Nathan Kelly announced that RTA was recently awarded $700,000 dollars in federal stimulus money to use towards engineering the plans of the Clifton Boulevard Streetscape Enhancement Project with a few added RTA aspects. This money will allow RTA, and the cities of Lakewood and Cleveland, to look at what the project would cost to implement. In addition to the physical cost of the project it will also allow research to be done into the types of materials that might be used including the kinds of plants used in the landscaping as well as the buses that might be chosen. One possible bus prospect would involve technology aboard each bus that would always give them a green light when coming upon an intersection.

The Clifton Boulevard Streetscape Enhancement Project was originally a collaborative effort between the cities of Lakewood and Cleveland along with Kent State’s Urban Design Center in 2006. They developed a plan to enhance Clifton Boulevard including landscaped medians, pedestrian-friendly crossings and improved lighting. RTA’s expected contributions are improved landscaping along curb lanes, improved transit shelters and fuel efficient buses.

Although the Clifton Boulevard plan was originally approved by the Planning Commission in December of 2006 it has not been able to move forward for lack of funding. This is one reason Director Kelly is happy to be working with RTA. He said that since RTA is in the travel business they have “better access to funding this sort of project than we do alone.” Kelly continued, stating “by partnering with Cleveland and RTA we are able to attract better funding.”

If interested, more information can be found about the original Clifton Boulevard Streetscape Enhancement Project on the Department of Planning and Development website at onelakewood.com/planning.

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Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 8:27 PM, 04.21.2009