Joint Facilities Task Force, July 18, 2019

August 16th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Shaker City: Mayor David Weiss; Council members Tres Roeder, Anne Williams; Shaker Schools: Board member Jeff Isaacs, Communications Director Scott Stephens; Shaker Library: Board members Michael Bertsch, Brian Gleisser; Director Amy Switzer; citizen members: Jim Neville, Stephanie Ryberg-Webster, Vicki Elder

Members Absent: Superintendent of Schools David Glasner, Board of Education member Lisa Cremer

Others Present: Director of Planning Joyce Braverman, Director of Recreation Alex Nichols, Principal Planner Ann Klavora

Mayor Weiss opened the meeting at 2:07 p.m. The Planning NEXT consultants briefly reviewed the agenda and expectations for the meeting. The results from the public Open House surveys were shared and compared with the responses from the City/Schools/Library leadership. The correlation between Leadership (Task Force Members + Library Board) and Public responses was quite high for the Forward Together Vision and Goals. However, three questions placed before the leadership and public regarding their desire for a central recreation and community center resulted in some different priorities:

  1. Would you like to see a central recreation and community facility or a more dispersed approach?

Both city leadership and the public preferred one central facility by a 2-to-1 margin.

  • If a central facility if explored, what are the top three types of spaces that you would like to see in a central recreation and community center?

Both city leadership and the public prioritized a fitness equipment/workout space as #1 priority, followed by an indoor pool as #2. The third priority for city leadership was fitness class space for group classes, while the public preferred a community/multipurpose space. These four types of spaces were the top priority for both leadership and the public.

  • Which of the following sites do you think is best for locating a central recreation and community center?

This question resulted in divergent responses between city leadership and the public. There were three options: Middle School/Bertram Woods, ranked #1 by leadership at 40 percent but #3 by the public, with only 21 percent; Thornton Park and adjacent greenspace scored 30 percent with leadership and was #1 with 48 percent of the public; Main Library/Community Building and adjacent greenspace, scored 30% with leadership and 31% with the public.

The Planning NEXT consultants then asked the 11 Facilities Task Force members present plus city employees Joyce Braverman, Alex Nichols, and Ann Klavora (14 people total) to prioritize some of the ideas suggested online and during the public Open House meetings. The following three tables represent their choices. Some ideas with commonalities were grouped together: #15, Community Meeting Spaces; #21, Community Calendar; and #25, Meeting Space Reservations were grouped; as were #18, Joint Funding; #19, City, School, Library Collaboration; and #26 Cost Sharing. The ideas were then rearranged as either High, Medium or Low priority ideas to pursue. (See Table 1 for the description of each idea and the raw vote scores)

High Priority Ideas:

#1    Rec/Community Center

#2    Shaker Lakes

#3    Lee Road Plan

#5    Modernize Facilities

#11  Community Building

#12  Thornton Park

#13  Community Use of Schools

#18,19,26 Joint Funding, City/School/Library Collaboration, Cost Sharing

High/Medium Borderline Ideas:

#10  Walkability

#23  Regional Opportunities

Medium Priority Ideas:

#4    Athletic Fields

#8    Performing Arts Center

#14  Multi-generational Programming

#20  Technology Infrastructure

#15,21,25 Community Meeting Spaces, Community Calendar, Meeting Space Reservation

Low Priority Ideas:

#6    Dog Park

#7    Bike Racks

#9    Reading Garden

#16  Bikeshare/scooters

#17  Farmer’s Market

#22  Asset Trail Map

#24  Private Partnerships

There were many comments regarding all these items and much discussion; it was impossible to record each individual comment, so this report will generalize. It was agreed that #8 Performing Arts Center referred to an outdoor venue, as we had several auditoriums in the various school buildings which could be used. There was not an expectation that private clubs and organizations would agree to open their facilities to the public—Private Partnerships, #24, refers to the use of Shaker Heights public resources for private activities as a revenue opportunity. Community Calendar, #21, refers to a single combined calendar of the City/Schools/Library which is easily accessible from multiple sites so that residents can find the information they need to plan their time. Walkability, #10, is one of the main attractions of Shaker and refers to the environment we have, particularly the maintenance of the trees and sidewalks and keeping the neighborhoods connected.

Task Force Idea Prioritization (Table 1)

Physical Ideas (12) Table 1a High Med Low
1. Rec/Community Center. Explore the potential for creating a central recreation and community center. 9 5 0
2. Shaker Lakes. Invest in Shaker Lakes. 8 2 4
3. Lee Road Plan. Develop a facilities strategy plan for Lee Road. 10 4 0
4. Athletic Fields. Explore need for additional athletic field space within the community. 2 9 2
5. Modernize Facilities. Continue efforts to modernize and upgrade current facilities. 10 4 0
6. Dog Park. Create a dog park. 1 5 8
7. Bike Racks. Install more bike racks at community facilities. 2 7 5
8. Performing Arts Center. Create an outdoor performing arts center. 0 6 8
9. Reading Garden. Create a reading garden. 1 1 12
10. Walkability. Improve walkability throughout community. 5 6 3
11. Community Building. Re-imagine Community Building. 9 5 0
12. Thornton Park. Re-imagine Thornton Park building and grounds including ways to better tie to larger community 9 5 0
Programmatic Ideas (5) Table 1b High Med Low
13. Community Use of Schools. Study opportunities for community use of school facilities. 9 5 0
14. Multi-generational Programming. Create more multi-generational programming. 2 6 6
15. Community Meeting Spaces. Expand inventory of and access to community meeting spaces. 4 10 0
16. Bikeshare/scooters. Explore developing a bike share and/or scooter share program. 0 5 8
17. Farmer’s Market. Create a winter/year-round farmer’s market event. 0 1 13
Process Ideas (9) Table 1c High Med Low
18. Joint Funding. Explore opportunities for joint funding of facilities. 12 2 0
19. City School Library Collaboration. Create a mechanism to regularly communicate and collaborate across the City, Schools and Library. 13 1 0
20. Technology Infrastructure. Explore opportunities to better connect residents through technology infrastructure. 3 8 3
21. Community Calendar. Create a community-wide joint calendar of events. 7 6 1
22. Asset Trail Map. Create a community asset trail map. 2 4 8
23. Regional Opportunities. Explore regional relationships and leverage opportunities. 6 6 1
24. Private Partnerships. Partner with Country Club/Skating Club to leverage opportunities; consider absorbing so that City owns/runs them. 1 5 7
25. Meeting Space Reservation. Create a one-stop shop for reserving meeting/community space 1 10 3
26. Cost Sharing. Explore opportunities for cost sharing across entities (snow plow service, construction & vendors etc.). 11 1 2

The Planning NEXT consultants next opened a discussion on “Opportunity Locations,” five areas within Shaker Heights that might serve as the “Central Recreations and Community Center.”

Area 1: The Main Library, STJ Community Building, Colonnade Green Space.

Area 2: Thornton Park and the vacant lot at the corner of Warrensville Center and Farnsleigh roads

Area 3: Middle School, Bertram Woods Library and the Shaker Boulevard median east of Warrensville Center Road

Area 4: Chelton Park, the School Bus Depot on Lee Rd. and the City Service Center on Chagrin Boulevard

Area 5: The High School, Onaway, and Woodbury School campus, including the Shaker Schools Administration Building.

The Planning NEXT consultants suggested possible “collaborations” at each area: Area 1 providing a senior center, a teen center, and meeting spaces; Area 2 providing a full-size hockey rink, a community/rec center and athletic fields; Area 3 providing an indoor pool, shared arts center, athletic fields, meeting spaces and a dog park; Area 4 reconfigure/relocate the bus depot and expand/connect Chelton Park; Area 5 would provide services similar to Area 3.

This discussion was very animated but did not reach a resolution. There is a philosophical divide among the task force participants between having a single physical location “central” to the city providing all services for our diverse population, versus providing multiple services in several locations. One participant remarked that residents had expressed their wishes to be able to walk to one “central” location and be able to find all these services, and preferably to have these “two blocks away” from their house; the participant admitted this is not possible and is a delicate public relations challenge for the task force as five locations with varying services would be perceived as “more of the same.” The same participant added that Shaker residents have very strong social bonds with their neighborhood schools and neighborhood associations and would prefer many of the high priority ideas be replicated in every neighborhood, while they might accept high cost and/or lower priority ideas be offered at a “central” location.

The Planning NEXT consultants admitted that “we are ahead of ourselves” when considering the five opportunity locations; that it was premature to say “we are going to put a recreation center at the Middle School.” The consultant suggested that each of the three taxing bodies now have ideas that they should consider as they move forward implementing their strategic facilities plans and their near-term operating plans.

Joyce Braverman reminded everyone the next task force meeting would be August 15.

The meeting adjourned at 4:28 p.m.

Frank Goforth, observer

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