The View From Ward 2
Cove Church Intergenerational Community Center Conversion Project
At the Housing, Planning, & Development Committee meeting held Tuesday, September 8th, we discussed the project that will convert Cove Church into an Intergenerational Community Center for Lakewood residents. The resolution that was brought before the committee would grant the Director of Public Works the authority to enter into a design-build agreements for the design, hazardous substance abatement, and construction of the new Intergenerational Community Center for an amount not to exceed $4,150,000 with Infinity Construction Co.
We were planning on granting this authority earlier this year, but the administration requested that we defer to a later date until we had a clearer picture of the impact the pandemic had on our finances. Mayor George shared that our finances are in a good enough place where we can move forward with this project.
Over the years, the Department of Human Services has been housed in multiple buildings, with the home of Senior Services in unsatisfactory condition. This project will put all of Lakewood’s Human Services under one roof thereby increasing collaboration among departments and fostering relationships between the generations. Infinity Construction shared that they are working with Human Services employees and other stakeholders to ensure that the building itself supports the health and wellness of all our residents.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, construction should begin in Spring with a possible completion date of Fall 2021. I am glad to see that this project is getting started and that our City is showing a commitment to serving our residents at all stages of life.
Council Budget Priorities
September’s Finance Committee meetings are dedicated to discussing City Council members’ budget priorities. The goal is to adopt a resolution in October that formally states City Council’s budget priorities so that the Mayor and her staff can incorporate them into their 2021 Comprehensive Budget Document.
I am involved in the submission of two priorities. The first is for a HAWK crosswalk on Madison between Westwood/Morrison and Warren. This is a stretch of approximately 2,440 ft. (.46 miles) without an intervening crosswalk. A HAWK beacon is a traffic control device that only activates when a pedestrian presses a button to cross. We currently have two HAWK crosswalks in Lakewood. In the past, Lakewood paid for the HAWK study and design and ODOT paid for the construction.
The second is for funding to explore the development of a ShopLakewood Online Marketplace. Coucilmember At-Large Sarah Kepple has taken the lead on the drafting of this budget priority because of her technical expertise. We believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has increasingly changed consumer behavior from in-store shopping to delivery and curbside pick-up options. Many of our small businesses do not have the capacity to develop an online marketplace or have relied on other applications that take a significant portion of their sales. Our proposal involves using Economic Development Funds to fund a study that will engage local stakeholders and experts to determine the feasibility of such a program. We believe that this process will tell us if we should move forward or how to move forward with additional investment.
Extension of Temporary Outdoor Dining
At the City Council meeting held on Tuesday, September 8th, Mayor George proposed a resolution that would permit the Temporary Outdoor Dining Resolution to remain in effect until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The resolution currently reads that it is effective for the duration of the Covid-19 state of emergency or until October 31, 2020, whichever comes first. The date of October 31st is significant because that is when all permits for outdoor dining in the City of Lakewood, whether granted through the Temporary Outdoor Dining Resolution or through the regular process, expire.
Mayor George shared that her intent is to have all outdoor dining options continue through the state of emergency to “give [our restaurants] the tools that will allow them to generate business and to support our community during this challenging time.” Through my conversations with restaurant owners I learned that most customers are not comfortable eating inside and that the expanded outdoor dining options have proved valuable. This proposal will be discussed at a future Housing, Planning, and Development Committee meeting and I look forward to supporting it.
Detroit Sloane Streetscape Improvements
The Director of Planning & Development, Shawn Leininger, has informed Council that the streetscape designs for the Detroit Avenue Pedestrian Safety Improvements are ready to be reviewed by the Architectural Board of Review. This project will “transform the pivotal stretch of Detroit Avenue between Sloane Avenue and Graber Drive from a busy vehicular passthrough to a visually appealing, pedestrian-and cyclist friend focal point of Western Lakewood.” We are excited to start work on creating a gateway into Lakewood from the Rocky River Reservation.
Dir. Leininger shared that the City staff has worked with residents and the Tree Task Force to ensure that the landscape materials are appropriate for the location, and that they are also low-maintenance and climate appropriate. Regarding public art, Dir. Leininger stated that, “[C]ertain elements shown in the renderings are placeholders for public art. As an example, the streetcar elements shown on the northwest and northeast corners of Detroit Sloane and in front of Harry Buffalo are such placeholders and do not depict what will ultimately be constructed. By the end of the year, the City will work with the resident-led Public Art Advisory Group to establish a call a call for artists to establish the theme for public art throughout the corridor.”
CDC Order to Temporarily Halt Residential Evictions
The Lakewood Municipal Court has been working to comply with the CDC’s order to temporarily halt residential evictions. Residents may receive protection from eviction by completing the form found at http://www.lakewoodcourtoh.com/pdfs/forms/COVIDEvictionForm9.4.20.pdf and submitting it to the Court.
City Councill is Now on Zoom & Streaming Live on YouTube
All City Council General Meetings and Committee Meetings are now being held on Zoom. All meetings will be livestreamed on the City of Lakewood’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/c/CityofLakewoodOhio.
There is also a new public comment protocol. If you would like to submit a written comment you must do so through the eComment portal by visiting https://onelakewood.granicusideas.com/meetings. Here you can comment on any agenda item or provide a comment that is not related to an agenda item under the Public Comment portion of the agenda.
You can also request to speak on an agenda item through the same eComment portal. Requests must be made prior to 3:00 PM on the day of the meeting. After you make your request, you will be provided credentials to join the meeting.
I believe that this method provides unprecedented access to our meetings and I hope that we see higher community participation as a result.
Jason Shachner is the Ward 2 Lakewood City Councilmember. He is currently serving as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the Lake County Prosecutor's Offices' Criminal Division. He can be reached at Jason.Shachner@lakewoodoh.net or at (216) 714-2150.