City Council Meeting - March 6, 2017
Zoning Code Expansion
Ordinance 17-17 proposed changes to the Planned Development provisions of the Zoning Code in order to facilitate the use of planned developments in the future. Planning & Development Director Sylvester proposed these changes to ensure a better process for the city in implementing planned developments in any zoning district. The council deferred the legislation to the upcoming Council of the Whole for further discussion.
Job Creation and Rates of Pay for Non-Collective Bargaining Employees
Ordinance 1-17 proposed creating positions and rates of pay for full time and certain part time annual salaried employees and hourly rate employees not covered by collective bargaining. After doing some research, Councilmember O’Malley discovered that currently, thirty-four city employees wages were not set at the minimum living wage set by Chapter 113 of the city, $12.99 an hour. Mayor Summers explained that many of the employees were part time, which may fall under different payroll laws than full time employees. He also expressed concern that crossing guards, who were part of the aforementioned, failed to regularly attend work, so instead of raising their pay, perhaps the council should introduce incentive-based pay legislation to ensure regular work attendance. O’Malley contended, “This isn’t a whole lot of money; why aren’t we just doing this? It’s already been established as the minimum.” After a healthy discussion, Mayor Summers and City Council decided two things: first, to pass the ordinance in the meantime to raise the workers closer to the established fair wage, along with 3% increases, and second, to meet in the future to address the crossing guard issue. Councilmembers Bullock, Marx, and O’Leary also voiced support of complying with the fair wage, O’Leary commenting, “the living wage is important and we want every Lakewood employee to earn it.”
Improvements to Infrastructure
Ordinances 3-17 through 12-17 addressed funding for various infrastructure improvements citywide, all of which the council adopted. Ordinances 3-17, 5-17, 6-17, and 7-17 secured water, drainage, and sewer improvements for the city. Ordinance 3-17 also implemented construction and installation of a revetment to protect the Meridian Condominium property lines with Lake Erie, as well as improvements to the roofs of the fire station and Winterhurst Ice Rink. Ordinance 4-17 budgeted $1,250,000 toward designing, engineering, permitting and constructing improvements to the city’s digester mixers, heat exchangers, and tanks. Ordinance 8-17 committed $1, 800,00 to improving Lake Avenue and Maple Cliff Drive by resurfacing and replacing concrete. Ordinance 9-17 put $800,000 towards improving the city’s parks, specifically Kaufmann Park and Kids Cove Playground in Lakewood Park. Ordinance 10-17 put $650,000 towards improving sidewalks, and Ordinance 11-17 budgets $300,000 toward fixing the roof of the public works garage and other public buildings. Lastly, Ordinance 12-17 pledged $1,100,000 to design, engineer, and install a retaining wall on the northern property line of Winton Cliff to stabilize the exposed shale bluff.
Rules & Ordinances Committee Report
Councilmember Litten explained Ordinance 59-16, or the Use of Public Ways by Service Providers. The committee solidified that the Public Works Director (and not the Building Commissioner) should oversee this ordinance. The committee also supported all the minutes from this meeting, as well as all meetings, being free and public. O'Malley agreed, suggesting all minutes be posted on the city website for easier public access.
Lakewood Animal Safety and Welfare Advisory Board Appointment
Councilmember Bullock named Sue Spear as the head of the Lakewood Animal Safety Welfare Advisory Board. He expressed that Spear brings a great deal of knowledge of animal companion care.
Citizens Advisory Committee Appointment
Councilmember Marx thanked Travis Madden for his willingness to participate on the Citizens Advisory Committee, but he is moving to New York. In response, Marx appointed Erik Meinhardt to the committee. She appreciates his enthusiasm for the city.
Mayor Summers appointed Erin Shonnesey to the Lakewood Animal Safety and Welfare Board. He also appointed David Stein to the Lakewood Human Rights Commission.
Lakewood Public Arts Task Force
Councilmember Bullock expressed the arts add vitality to the community, and he is enthusiastic about the Public Arts Task Force’s 2017 public art projects. He explained the task force is seeking to create one permanent and one temporary piece of art, both of which are included in the city’s budget. He urges the task force to start small, select a project, and create it, moving quickly into the spring by engaging artists and funders, as well as complying with any legal outlines.
Overlook Park Signage Project
Councilmember Litten requested consideration for resolution to complete decorative signage infrastructure project developed by the residents of Overlook Park. The proposed beautification project started with a petition by neighbors in order to increase property values of homes, and residents have worked on this proposal for over 3 years. The neighborhood would cover the vast majority of the project cost, but the project has been on hold as residents wait for an assessment from the city of Lakewood to determine cost, the balance of which would be covered by the city of Lakewood. The city must be involved because the construction is within the public right of way, as well as involving public infrastructure that the city must maintain. Councilmember Litten held a community meeting for the residents, which Councilmembers O’Malley and Marx both attended in support.
At the city council meeting, approximately thirty neighbors and members for the Overlook Park Neighborhood Association attended, and several spoke in support of the project. Resident Ann Spence questioned the need for a city assessment, as the neighborhood association acquired all funding needed through fundraising and donations. Resident Chris Martin expressed that the neighborhood is not trying to create a sense of elitism with their decorative signage but rather encourage other neighborhoods in Lakewood to pursue their own beautification projects in an attempt to unify the city. Resident Elizabeth Nolan reminded the council that there was an effort in Lakewood in the past to form neighborhood associations, and she looks forward to working with the council to see the project come into fruition.
Potential for Cornucopia Concessions Services
Mayor Summers informed the council that Cornucopia Inc. expressed interest in running concessions at Lakewood Park, starting this summer. Cornucopia Inc. is a forty-two year old Lakewood-based non-profit that is dedicated to creating work adjustment training for people with disabilities. Mayor Summers explained Cornucopia desires bringing healthy concessions to the park, and he urged the council to sign the contract for the 2017 outdoor season. Councilmember Marx was thrilled for the opportunity to support both healthy concessions and disabled workers, as did Councilmember Litten, the latter of whom questioned if the concessions need any restoration before Cornucopia entered the space. They referred Mayor Summers’ communication to the following Committee of the Whole.
New Financial Memberships for 2017
Finance Director Pae addressed the inclusion of three new memberships: the Central Ohio Organization of Public Purchasers, International Personnel Management Association Northern Ohio Chapter, and National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The addition of these memberships is within the $60,000 budget, and the Finance Committee will review these memberships.
Potential Economic Development Grant for University Tees
Planning & Development Director Sylvester came out in support of an economic development grant for University Tees (tenant at 13000 Athens Ave, also known as the Screw Factory Building). He explained that a loan from the fund helped them move to Lakewood in 2009, and the company makes significant payroll tax for Lakewood. Improvements are needed for the Screw Factory Building, with estimates totaling $400,000 in upgrades. He requested a $100,000 Economic Development Grant for University Tees, as the city is expected to cover for 25% of these kinds of grants. The council referred the request to their next Committee of the Whole meeting.
Resident Tom Yanks expressed his neighborhood is infested with deer. He explained the deer are consuming neighborhood plants and gardens, with residents putting up fences and trying repellants with little luck. He also expressed concern about lime disease and asked how the city can help. Mayor Summers responded that there are expensive services they could employ to count the deer to determine in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources should be brought in to thin the herds. However, he, along with Councilmember Bullock, were opposed to killing the deer and voiced favor for finding non-violent ways to deter the deer from staying in the neighborhood. Councilmember Bullock further contributed, “let’s get options that we can then educate our residents with – because frankly, the city doesn’t have the capacity to deal with all of the wildlife issues in town.” Additionally, Councilmember Anderson addressed he is expecting a report back from the Metroparks and sharp shooting efforts in 11 different locations and promises to share that information with the administration, to aid in how to proceed.
Opioid Crisis and the Medical Marijuana Moratorium
Yours truly approached council, concerned about Lakewood’s opioid crisis. I spoke in favor of ending the medical marijuana moratorium and urged the council to pursue marijuana dispensary licensure in order to reduce opioid addiction and death. My speech is included in the Forum section of this paper. The council was receptive and said they are considering facts from all sides of this issue.