Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, April 2017

June 5th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Neighborhood Revitalization Committee
April 12, 2017

Authorization to Appropriate Funds for Cleveland Foundation Internship Program (Kamla Lewis)

Document link: Authorization to Appropriate Funds for Cleveland Foundation Internship Program

 The city has been selected as one of 19 agencies to participate in the 2017 Cleveland Foundation summer internship program. This is the 18th year of the program and the first time the city would be participating. The Foundation covers all costs associated with the intern up to $6,475. The city hires the intern as a temporary part-time employee for 11 weeks from June to August 2017, and the intern is paid $12 per hour for up to 40 hours per week. The intern in this case would work in the Department of Neighborhood Revitalization on the Moreland Rising project. The city will pay the intern and then be reimbursed for costs by the Cleveland Foundation.

This internship, city officials believe, provides a unique opportunity for a young student to learn about this project, which is helping to transform the Moreland neighborhood into a vibrant community.

Moreland Rising

Vibrant Shaker neighborhoods create a more vibrant Shaker.

Enter Moreland Rising: the city- and neighborhood-led collaboration with arts, business, and development partners to create a Moreland hub of innovation.

The project could:

  • Catalyze entrepreneurship along the Chagrin-Lee corridor
  • Explore new ways for neighbors to connect with neighbors
  • Cultivate an environment that continues to inspire art and artists
  • Encourage innovative housing designs that set the standard for years to come

The recommendation (the acceptance and appropriation of $6,475 from the General Fund to pay for the intern and to be reimbursed by the CF) passed unanimously.

Request to Enter into a Contract with Kay Coaching for Neighborhood Engagement Work (Colin Compton)

Documents: Request to Enter into a Contract with Kay Coaching for Neighborhood Engagement Work

The Economic Development Department requests the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee’s recommendation to enter into a contract with Kay Coaching in the amount of $55,000 to continue neighborhood engagement work in Moreland for the period of April 1, 2017, through March 31, 2018. This allocation will allow Economic Development to continue the neighborhood engagement efforts that are already in place while also developing and implementing new participation avenues for residents. In planning to move forward, Economic Development evaluated two levels of involvement at which Kay Coaching could be used. The first option used Kay Coaching primarily outside of the monthly Neighbor Night event to spearhead outreach to residents and hold other spaces for community gatherings. The second option, in addition to the activities outside of Neighbor Night, added Kay Coaching’s assistance with Neighbor Night itself. This includes leading planning meetings for Neighbor Night, attending Neighbor Night, leading debrief sessions after Neighbor Night, and providing support to resident-initiated projects that may rise out of Neighbor Night. Due to the increased interest from residents both in Moreland and in adjoining neighborhoods and the continued increase in attendance at Neighbor Night, Economic Development proposes to proceed with the second, more involved level of involvement with Kay Coaching in order to ensure that the neighborhood engagement work’s transition to Economic Development is a success.

Kay Coaching, a community development consulting company, wants to reach out to younger adults and youth. In order to do this the consultants plan to use a “boots on the ground” approach that includes talking to Moreland residents at their homes, school bus stops, and school events. While Neighbor Night will remain an integral part of the community network building strategy, Kay Coaching will also organize smaller, less formal gatherings that make it possible for residents and other network members to meet and share interests and information. These could be drop-in sessions at the community center, The Dealership, the library, a coffee shop or a park or playground.

Many of the committee members were concerned that it is difficult to quantify (measure) success of the outreach, thus it is difficult to justify paying for Kay Consulting services. It was explained that this is a process that requires a tremendous amount of hours to implement and at this time Kay Consulting services are needed, as the city doesn’t have the personnel to accomplish this task on its own. The ultimate goal is to teach community “stewards” to do the job that the consultants are now doing. Also, it might be possible that someday volunteers can accomplish the job that Kay Consulting is doing. But for now, it was strongly emphasized that Kay is needed to continue this program, which is vital for the Moreland Rising goal of creating a vital and thriving community.

Request to Establish an Agency Fund for Escrow Accounts and Amend the Housing Code to Charge a Fee for Escrow Disbursements (William Hanson)

Documents: Request to Establish an Agency Fund for Escrow Accounts and Amend the Housing Code to Charge a Fee for Escrow Disbursements

FirstMerit Bank has served as the city’s Designated Escrow Agent since 2010. From 2010 to 2016, a total of 901 escrow accounts were established and $13,447,251 was reinvested in maintaining and improving residential property in the community. The city has been pleased with the agreement with FirstMerit, which did not charge the city for its services, and the only charge to the account holder was a $15 fee for disbursements from escrow. The city would have preferred the arrangement with FirstMerit to continue, but FirstMerit was recently acquired by Huntington Bank, which has informed the city that it wants to discontinue its involvement with Point of Sale escrow accounts. Huntington officials agreed, however, to continue opening new accounts until June 1, 2017, and to disburse funds in existing accounts through the end of the year to allow the city some time to transition to a new escrow process.

The city unsuccessfully reached out to other banks to see if they were interested in handling the escrow accounts.

In order to continue the Point of Sale program, the city will act as the designated agent for escrow accounts and perform the functions previously handled by FirstMerit/Huntington. The bulk of these activities will be handled in-house by the Finance Department, which will be opening escrow accounts and handling disbursements.

The NRC agreed with the recommendation for the authorization of an agency fund for escrow accounts and an amendment to the fee schedule in the Housing Code to charge $15 for each disbursement from an escrow account.

At this time the Finance Department feels that the current staff will be able to manage this additional task but will reevaluate once the change has been made. Also, the $15 charge is the same charge that FirstMerit assessed on disbursement from escrow.
Eileen Anderson

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