The View From City Council
Housing, Planning, and Development Committee Meeting
Lakewood has owned nine single-family residential properties adjacent to the former Lakewood Hospital site since the 1980s. When a tenant decides not to renew their lease, the Planning and Development Department requests the authority from Council to dispose of the property. At last week’s Housing, Planning, and Development Committee meeting, the Planning and Development Department requested the authority to enter into an agreement with LakewoodAlive for the sale of 1462 Belle Avenue. This property suffered fire damage in January of this year, however, because of the quick response of the Lakewood Fire Department, the damage to the structure was limited. The City would like to transfer the property to LakewoodAlive for $2 and, in turn, LakewoodAlive would sell the property to a developer with the goal of preserving the historic nature of the property. The property would then be sold at market-rate. I asked if the City was able to use HOME funds or ARPA funds to make this property an affordable housing option and the Planning Department indicated that, because of the finite amount of funds that Lakewood receives, this property would not be a viable affordable housing option. Planning and Development Director Shawn Leininger did share that the City originally planned for three of the nine properties be affordable housing options and that they are on track to meet that goal.
We recommended for approval a $175,000 economic development loan for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of St. James School as an office building. Oster Services Companies is planning on retaining the historic character of the building and will be moving its company into the building. This $3 million project has also secured commitments from Allied Enterprises Inc., Walk Your Plans Inc, and Lakewood Business Forum to relocate into the building. Oster also has a pending commitment from a Lakewood technology company that would otherwise have to leave Lakewood to expand its business.
Lastly, we recommended for approval a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Fund Loan for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse as retail and office space to the former Bi-Rite Building. With this $4 million project, Little Jemmy LLC plans to name this building “the Nest” and has secured Phoenix Coffee, Shuffleboard Group Bar & Restaurant, and Heyday Collective as tenants. Shuffleboard Group Bar & Restaurant plans on featuring a full-service bar and restaurant with golf simulator rental booths.
City Council Meeting 9/7
Proposed Sidewalk Ordinance
At last week’s Council Meeting, I introduced an ordinance that would cap the cost of required repairs to sidewalks at $1,000 for certain qualified property owners that participate in the Sidewalk Program. This would mean that if you participate in Lakewood’s Sidewalk Program and your property is an owner- occupied single-family home or an owner-occupied multifamily home with no more than three units then the maximum the City can charge you to repair or replace your sidewalks would be $1,000.
The Sidewalk Program has greatly improved the walkability of our city by ensuring that all 180 miles of sidewalk are safe. I introduced this ordinance because safe sidewalks serve both a private and public interest and with the program reaching its final sections prior to starting over again, I believe it is time to explore capping the amount the city charges residents to repair their sidewalks if they choose to opt-in to the Sidewalk Program.
I reviewed the estimates from 2017-2020 to determine a reasonable cap that would not financially burden the city or residents. I found that a cap of $1,000 would provide residents the security of knowing that amount would be the most they would have to budget for and would keep the City’s cost under $200,000 a year.
I anticipate that future costs would be even less because the Sidewalk Program will soon be inspecting sections that were previously reviewed in 2013. I anticipate that the debate on this piece of legislation will center around whether this ordinance should be enacted prior to the Sidewalk Program completing its inspection of the entire City and what the cap should be. I look forward to discussing this with the Public Works Department and my colleagues at a future committee meeting.
Proposed Amendment to Nuisance Vegetation Ordinance
I also introduced an ordinance that requires the removal of bamboo when it has spread from its original premise of planting or is not being maintained and clarifies what plants are not permitted in Lakewood. When not properly planted, certain species of bamboo can negatively impact surrounding properties. The Building Department has shared that under the current iteration of Sec 1775.01, “Weeds, tall grass, nuisance vegetation or growths over sidewalks,” bamboo is considered a tall grass and therefore can only be limited in height. This is an issue because bamboo becomes a nuisance when its root system is not contained and it disrupts surrounding properties.
In addition, Sec 1775.01 currently prohibits plants that are not considered noxious weeds by the State, including milkweed, which is vital to the development of Monarch butterflies. Under my proposed amendment, milkweed is no longer considered a noxious weed, consistent with the Ohio Administrative Code.
This ordinance will provide the Building Department with the necessary tools to cause the removal of uncontrolled bamboo and provide residents with more clear guidance on what plants are prohibited in Lakewood.
Maintenance of Recreation Fields and Facilities
Mayor George announced at the meeting that the Lakewood City Schools Board of Education and the City have come to an agreement regarding the maintenance of recreation fields and facilities. This offseason the City will fully fund the work associated with the repairing and recrowning of Jimmie Foxx Field at Kauffman Park and George J. Usher Field at Madison Park, which will both be completed by Spring 2022.The agreement includes a provision that the School Board will be contributing $20,000 per year to the maintenance of the fields and will be administering and overseeing the Request for Proposals and any work by contractors necessary to maintain the fields as part of an official field improvement rotation for subsequent off seasons. This Joint Agreement will be further discussed at a future Committee of the Whole meeting.
Foster Pool Design Input
The Lakewood Planning and Development Department has been tirelessly working to gather community input on the Foster Pool conceptual plans. The goal is to complete the design process and begin construction in Fall 2022 to ensure that no pool season is missed. The new pool will provide ADA access, allow the pool systems to operate more efficiently, and will add amenities for people of all ages and abilities.
There will be an open house at Foster Pool on September 16th between 3 and 6 PM to view the revised draft conceptual plans and to provide feedback. If you are unable to attend you can view the plans and provide your comments by going to: https://www.lakewoodoh.gov/fosterpool/
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. If you are interested in subscribing to the View from Ward 2 Newsletter please visit https://mailchi.mp/shachnerforlakewood/newsletter.