Weed, Deeds And Speed: Three Meetings At City Hall

The ciity is discussing the sale of 1450 Belle Ave. 

Lakewood City Hall hosted three meetings on Monday, March 18, 2024. The Public Safety Committee, Housing, Planning, & Development Committee as well as Lakewood City Council met at 6:00, 6:45 and 7:30 respectively.

The Public Safety Committee heard presentations from and asked questions of Law Director Ernie Vargo and Chief Prosecutor Myriam Miranda regarding changes to Section 513.01 of the Codified Ordinances as it pertains to Adult-Use Marijuana. Director Vargo explained that a group in the Law Department has been meeting to work on this section and expects to have a final draft prepared for Council to review in 4 - 6 weeks. Ms. Miranda assured the committee and members of the public that police officers would be trained and given updated protocols as Lakewood adapts to the legalization of Adult-Use Marijuana. 

The Housing, Planning, & Development Committee discussed a number of city-owned properties that the city is looking to sell by partnering with a licensed real estate broker. The committee failed to send this action item along to council for approval because of Committee Chair Thomas Bullock’s apprehension around selling the property at 1450 Belle Ave. The brick building across Belle from the pit that used to be Lakewood Hospital has housed offices of the Cleveland Clinic as well as the Lakewood Child Care Center. The Chairman seemed truly troubled by the prospect of selling the parcel as he reminisced aloud about negotiations to procure it during the closing of the hospital. Bullock was under the impression that collecting rent from tenants there was a source of income for Lakewood and did not want to agree to part with the building if it was adding to the bottom line. Director of Planning & Development Shawn Leininger stated that the city is spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to maintain the building and that it is a risk for the city citing the condition of the edifice. Leininger also cited insurance cost as a point against keeping the property in the city’s real estate portfolio. This agenda item was deferred and will be revisited the next time the committee meets.

The City Council Meeting lasted 13 minutes and was over at 7:49 pm. The longest discussion on any one item was a resident’s concern about a $458 charge for a sidewalk repair in front of his house. He stated that when he initially asked about the sidewalk when it was marked for repair with spray paint by the city he was told that there was no issue with it and it would not be repaired. One year later when the homeowner was out of town he received a phone call stating that the sidewalk was going to be repaired at his expense. Public Works Director Chris Gordon addressed the gentleman at Council President Sarah Kepple’s prompting and confirmed the stated timeline of events. He offered to speak with the concerned citizen directly after the council meeting to resolve the issue and he did do so. After the respectful exchange Mayor Meghan George explained that this public comment highlighted a known issue in the Public Works Department. She expressed a desire to improve the Sidewalk Replacement Program, implying that there have been other instances of marked sidewalks not being visited by workers in a timely manner.  

The three meetings started ten, five and six minutes late respectively. There seemed to be little regard for punctuality despite the triple-header on the schedule. One member of council even walked over to me to shake my hand at 6:07. My bicycle seat would have had a few fewer snowflakes on it at the end of the night if everyone had been seated and ready to start on time.

Ted Babcock is a photographer living in Lakewood.

Theodore Babcock

Local Man/Photographer

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Volume 20, Issue 6, Posted 6:47 PM, 03.20.2024