Safety & Public Works Committee, January 2019

January 9th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Jan. 4, 2019

Present: Council members Nancy Moore (chair), Juliana Senturia, Anne Williams; citizen members James Brady, Jonathan Hren, James Sammon, Austin McGuan

Others present: Mayor David Weiss; Director of Public Works Patricia Speese; Director of Planning Joyce Braverman; Chief of Fire Patrick Sweeney; Chief of Police Jeffrey DeMuth; police department administrative assistant Debra Messing

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 8 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

1.  The minutes of the Dec. 7, 2019, meeting were approved without further discussion.

2.  The Planning Department presented a motion to add $3,750 for a total of $35,030 on a contract with Weber Murphy Fox (WMF) signed in July 2018 after a competitive RFP process to study renovations to the old fire department space in a wing of City Hall. The change order is covered by the 2019 capital budget. The fire department relocated to a new building on Chagrin Boulevard in 2005. Its prior space off City Hall was already in poor condition and has deteriorated. The city wants to consolidate the housing and building departments into a first-floor space more convenient to its frequent visitors.

WMF’s first phase of planning and cost estimates showed that the proposed budget of $450,000 would be inadequate. WMF will propose a two-year phased plan to renovate both floors of the space, with the first phase to fall within the original budget estimate. Ms. Braverman described the renovations to move walls, remediate asbestos and mold, and fix utilities as “minimal.” Ms. Moore said there was extensive water damage because of a leak in the roof. Ms. Senturia expressed surprise that the final cost may be closer to $1 million. Mayor Weiss pointed out that the cost would be amortized over the 50-year projected lifespan of the renovations. The motion passed unanimously.

3. The Public Works Department presented a motion for approval to seek a $5,000 zero-match grant from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District for creation of public education materials regarding recycling. Discussion highlighted changes in the recyclables market and difficulties with finding destinations and processors for recycled materials, resulting in extremely limited options for disposing of potential recyclables. Specifications for what can still be recycled are complicated, thus the city wants to create educational materials for distribution to residents. Ms. Senturia suggested the city remind residents they can still “reduce and reuse,” as recycling options are increasingly limited. Ms. Speese said the city had for a time earned about $50,000 for recycling; now it is earning under $9,000, with corresponding additional costs for garbage. The motion passed unanimously.

4. Following discussion on the motions on the agenda, each department director provided an informal update. Police Chief DeMuth said, “We’ve never been safer here in Shaker Heights” because the crime rate for 2018 was almost as low as the historically low 2017 rate, including traffic accidents. Fire Chief Sweeney mentioned the planned distribution of smoke detectors. Ms. Speese described a shortage of skilled applicants and competition for labor with the expanding Amazon delivery service.

Mr. McGuan asked about Facebook chatter about gunfire and property damage on New Year’s Eve. Chief DeMuth said there was some property damage, but no evidence the gunfire occurred within city limits. He said other suburbs also experienced celebratory gunfire that night. In undated anecdotes, Ms. Senturia said her neighbor’s window was damaged by a bullet hole and Mr. Brady said a roofer at his home found several slugs had pierced his slate roof tiles. (Both of these individuals reside close to Shaker’s border with Cleveland.) Ms. Moore said the city had rescinded its gun control ordinances because of state laws as well as threats of litigation.

Ms. Braverman and Mayor Weiss described a long-term plan to renovate Lee Road “from border to border,” including utilities under the road and creation of a center turn lane. A grant application is pending for 2021 funding.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:50 a.m.

Annette Tucker Sutherland

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