Readers' Forum - Unopposed Council Candidates: Cynthia Strebig, Councilperson Cindy Marx, Councilperson Kyle Baker
LO READERS' QUESTIONS FOR COUNCIL CANDIDATES
1.) Name two things you have learned while speaking with residents: what are their biggest concerns about their ward, and what are their biggest concerns about Lakewood in general? How will you address these concerns as their councilperson?/How are you addressing these concerns as their councilperson?
2.) The "holespital" -- the site of the former Lakewood Hospital -- was brought up by many readers, one who pointed out that Lakewood teenagers make jokes about it on TikTok and Instagram. We've had suggestions that it be turned into an ice rink and a nature preserve. What can you do to bring something to that area that Lakewood residents can be proud of?
Cynthia Strebig - Ward 3
EXPERIENCE: I’m an elected Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Central Committee member and I’ve served on the Executive Committee for the last five years. A strong advocate for democracy, I volunteer with the Lakewood Democratic Club and the Lakewood chapter of the League of Women Voters. In addition, I’m on the board of the Lakewood YMCA to help fundraise for those in need, and on the board of the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, where I interview and educate candidates and inform voters about them. As an activist and member of GRR and the Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus, I promote equity and equality for all.
1.) RESIDENTS' CONCERNS: Thank you for this question. I have been canvassing Ward 3 and speaking with residents about their questions and concerns. Many people that I’ve talked to don’t have any concerns and are pleased and thankful for our community and city services. Some neighborhoods are experiencing issues with deer and rats, while others are very concerned about the speed of motorist on their streets. I’m bringing awareness of these concerns to the people at city hall and on city council that can assist me with solutions. Safety must be our first priority and slowing people down on our residential streets must be addressed through education, intervention, and penalties when necessary.
2.) HOSPITAL SITE: Understandably, change is very difficult for some people and patience is not often practiced by everyone. I too have been hearing the desires of some residents to take down the fence and use the area for recreation. My concern for this type of activity on a construction site is safety. Not knowing what debris lies below the groomed surface could cause serious injury to children, pets, and adults. We have to be patient and trust that professionals are working to bring a new project to this space that will make us proud and thankful for due diligence.
Councilperson Cindy Marx - Ward 4
EXPERIENCE: No matter if the Council represents a specific ward or the city at large, the goal of the City Council is to listen and respond to the needs of its people. As residents, no matter where we live in the City, we want to walk safely on the streets, live with respectful neighbors, ensure the value of our property is safeguarded and feel a sense of pride in our city. I work to empower the residents of Ward 4 and throughout the city to be involved in the community. As a long-time Lakewood resident and activist, I am proud of my service to the City of Lakewood and look forward to serving again as Ward 4 Council representative. I introduced and passed our Human Rights Ordinance when I last served on the City Council, sending a message that Lakewood is a safe place for everyone to feel at home.
1.) RESIDENTS' CONCERNS: In general, all residents are concerned with speeding throughout Lakewood. City Council and the Administration are actively working on ways to reduce speeding throughout the community.
Ward 4 is the most densely populated and socially and economically diverse ward in Lakewood. Both Birdtown and the Gold Coast find the need for more parking to be their biggest concern. I have had many conversations with Chris Gordon, the Director of Public Works, regarding parking in the Gold Coast area; he determined that striping parking spaces on the street would significantly reduce the number of cars that can park on the street. If residents see parking violations, calling the non-emergency police number is the best resolution to address violators.
In Birdtown, we may have relief for the parking issue. A parking lot on the city-owned property of Newman and Madison will offer some relief. I hope to have the cost for that construction included in the 2024 budget, and I plan to contribute some of my ARPA dollars to see that happen.
2.) HOSPITAL SITE: The City Council and the Administration are in active discussion with Casto, the developer of the hospital site. Unfortunately, the construction of the site was delayed due to COVID-19. Roundstone's absence from the project requires the developer to alter his original plan. Casto is currently re-negotiating finances for construction. The delay of construction supplies due to supply chain issues, the increase in material costs, and the increased cost of financing have slowed the process. Of course, having a vibrant mixed-use development on that site, in the heart of Lakewood, is a priority for all of us on Council and in the Administration. It is best to take our time with the planning so that the result represents Lakewood's vibrant community.
Councilperson Kyle Baker - Ward 1
EXPERIENCE: I’m the current Ward 1 Councilperson and Director of Real Estate/Senior Assistant Legal Counsel for Cleveland Metroparks where I have shepherded the protection of over 1,400 acres of parkland. I was previously a lawyer at a large Cleveland law firm, have extensive community involvement, and am a proud graduate of Lakewood High. Moreover, I have accomplished the following in my short time on Council: Led Council through complicated discussions regarding emergency dispatch operations, speed enforcement, expanding school crossing guards, and prohibiting smoking/vaping in parks; Passed regulations requiring older/taller structures to be reviewed by a structural engineer to ensure public safety; Made Lakewood a SolSmart-designated community to improve solar market conditions and streamline processes for residents/businesses; Raised awareness about the BE SMART (safe firearm storage); and Directed federal ARPA Funding to: Beck Center MCAT Building Project; Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program (19 new radar speed signs/multiple speed tables);Acquire/improve ODOT property to convert vacant land near I-90 into park space;Childcare assistance;Pickleball Court Conversion;Holiday Lighting Expansion;Lakewood Library Elevator; Eviction assistance; and Small Business Support.
RESIDENTS' CONCERNS: The two biggest issues that come with residents are speeding/safety and the Lakewood Hospital Site. I’ll provide more on the second point below. Speeding/public safety have been my highest priority. As Chair of the Public Safety Committee, I’ve elevated conversations about speed enforcement, potential speed cameras in school zones, and increased school crossing guards. I’m part of the Active Transportation Task Force where we hope to pass a Complete Streets Ordinance soon. Complete Streets integrates people in planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of our streets, sidewalks, and public spaces. This ensures we place safety over speed, balance the needs of different modes of travel, and includes street treatments that let drivers know that streets are not just for them (i.e., narrowing intersections, creating bumps at cross-walks, adding separated shared-use paths, speed bump mats, and reducing speed limits where legal/feasible).
HOSPITAL SITE: I am committed to working tirelessly (and have been doing so) to getting something that Lakewood residents can be proud of at the former Lakewood Hospital Site. The site represents a once in a generation opportunity to redevelop land in Lakewood that has limited space/available real estate. The decisions we make today will affect future generations, property and income tax collections, and the built environment in Lakewood for the next 30-50 years, so we have to get it right. I worked with my colleagues to approve the letter of intent with the current developer (CASTO) within the timeframe requested by the Administration. The project stumbled a little with an anchor tenant pulling out, but the proposed project is still possible if phased. CASTO’s proposed project is right mix of uses for the site and will be something that we can be proud of and will make Lakewood a more resilient community.