Observer Reports

Finance Committee, March 2017

April 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
March 20, 2017

Present: Council members Nancy Moore, Sean Malone, Earl Williams, Rob Zimmerman; citizen members Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley, Brian Rosenfelt
Also present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis, Economic Development Director Tania Menesse, Housing Director William Hanson

The meeting commenced at 7:30 a.m. with approval of the Feb. 21, 2017, regular meeting minutes.

Agenda Items

  • Approved and authorized the execution of a development agreement with Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC) for the sale, rehabilitation and re-sale of the city-owned property at 3625 Ludgate Road, authorizing the disposition of city-owned property no longer needed for municipal purposes without competitive bidding. This sale transaction is cost-neutral to the city.
  • Authorized a maintenance agreement with Van Aken Shopping Center (developer RMS) for the Van Aken District Public Improvements.
  • Authorized a forgivable loan in the maximum amount of $350,000 to McGlinchey Stafford to build out 20,000 square feet in the Van Aken District. McGlinchey Stafford has signed a 10-year lease to occupy office space in the office building anchoring the Warrensville/Farnsleigh retail corner.
  • Authorized the transfer of $17,751 from the General Fund into the Housing Inspection Department contractual services account for the demolition of 3598 Menlo Road.
  • Authorized the execution of certificates by the Director of Finance and the payments of amounts due upon certain contracts for which the Finance Director has issued Then and Now Certificates.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 a.m.
Patty Knoth

Library Board of Trustees, March 2017

March 30th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
March 27, 2017

Present: Mr. Anderson, Mr. Cicarella, Mr. Gleisser, Ms. Williams; 6:42 p.m., Mr. Bertsch, Mr. Meinhard; 6:57 p.m., Ms. Williams
Absent: Ms. Garrett

The meeting was called to order at 6:39 p.m. The minutes of the Feb. 13, 2017, meeting were approved.

Board Bylaws updated wording – Mr. Bertsch (motion), Ms. Williams (2nd)

Resolution of Commendation for Board President Chad Anderson, who is leaving the board after serving for nine years. Margaret Simon read a poem to him from the librarians.

Trustee Interviews – Six interviews are pending. Interviews will be conducted with two Library Board and two Board of Education members present. The selected candidate will be named in mid-April.

Financial Statements – Dec. 31, 2016, corrected and Feb. 28, 2017, were approved.

2017 Final Appropriation includes a 1 percent raise for staff, with the exception of the Director.

In response to President Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funding, the Board of Trustees will send a letter to Rep. Marcia Fudge and other legislators in support of IMLS.

Members of the Library board met with Board of Education members on March 7 to discuss timelines for placing a library levy on the ballot. The earliest the library would go to voters would be May 2018.

Gift for Building Fund – Peter Luton, in memory of Barbara and Michael Luton, $5,000

The meeting adjourned at 8:38 p.m.
Paulanita Barker

Board of Education, March 2017

March 29th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
March 20, 2017

Present: Board members Todd Davidson, Alex Dykema, Jeff Isaacs, Annette Tucker Sutherland; Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Treasurer Bryan Christman
Absent: Board member William Clawson, who was traveling

This meeting was rescheduled from March 14 (snow cancellation) and combined a regular meeting with the work session that had been scheduled for March 21.

The meeting was called to order at 5 p.m. by Mr. Dykema (president), and began with the introduction of Onaway principal Eric Forman, who listed various activities going on at his school. Following approval of the minutes of the last meeting, Dr. Hutchings recognized various students and staff who had received honors during the past month.

Next came public comments. One of the co-chairs of the district’s new Equity Task Force, Oxford Road resident Lisa Vahey, said that the task force has received applications from 69 people. The task force will include six members of the community, two students, plus teachers staff members, and administrators.

Following the routine approval of personnel items, representatives of the design and roof-repair firms hired by the district and Stephen Wilkins, Shaker’s assistant superintendent of business and operations, gave the board an update on the district’s plans for undertaking capital projects. Many of the plans depend on the passage of the May 2 bond issue/capital improvement levy, but some problems must be handled as emergencies. Most serious right now is the cafeteria ceiling and roof at the Middle School. The deteriorating roof is causing leaks that degrade the ceiling. Although the roof over the cafeteria can be patched, much of the whole building’s roof will have to be replaced. A contract for the Middle School’s roof replacement will be presented to the board in April. Meanwhile, the district will create a five-year plan to handle roof repairs and replacement on any buildings that need fixes.

The May 2 bond issue will raise about $30 million and the levy about $1 million per year, which is enough to cover just some of the capital repairs and improvements the district is facing. A capital-improvements program recommendation will be presented at the board’s April meeting. Mr. Dykema noted that the district’s enrollment is going down, which means the district has to make smart decisions about which school buildings to put the most money into.

Mr. Wilkins and Chris Dewey of Van Auken Akins, the district’s hired architecture/design firm, also made a presentation of new classroom “flexible furniture” options. He said 250 teachers submitted their preferences via a district survey. While the district balances “need vs. want,” the board also wants to meet the staff’s desire for 21st-century classrooms. Choices will be narrowed down at the April 11 board meeting.

The business meeting followed the discussion of capital plans. The following were unanimously approved by the board:

  • A resolution authorizing the district’s participation in the Ohio Schools Council Cooperative School Bus Purchasing Program for the 2017-18 school year. This give Council the OK to advertise and receive bids on behalf of the board for the purchase of four 72-passenger school buses. The district assumes that buses are replaced every 12 years.
  • Amending two of the district’s contracts with Van Auken Akins, one extending the program manager’s contract and increasing its funding from $100,000 to $125,000; the other (a second amendment) expanding the same firm’s work to include 10 additional classrooms. The fee for these services is not to exceed $50,000.
  • Additional holidays and revised summer hours for district employees who belong to the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers
  • Revised summer hours for secretarial and clerical workers (Monday-Thursday)

Also covered at this meeting were a second reading of a motion to adopt and revise certain board policies (no action will be taken on the policies until the third reading in April) and a public hearing on the district’s Internet Safety Policy (no comments were made by members of the public).

At this point, after two hours, I had to leave the meeting. But details of the complete agenda can be found at https://www.boarddocs.com/oh/shaker/Board.nsf

Marcia Goldberg

 

 

Finance Committee Meetings, February and March 2017

March 29th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
Feb. 21, 2017

Present: Council members Nancy Moore, Sean Malone, Earl Williams, Rob Zimmerman; citizen members Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley
Also present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Finance Director Robert Baker, Police Commander Michael Rowe, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Public Works Director Patti Speese, Planning Director Joyce Braverman, Building Department Manager Kyle Krewson

The meeting commenced at 7:30 a.m. with approval of the Jan. 17, 2017, regular meeting minutes.

Agenda Items

  • Authorized the appropriation of $10,000 from the State of Ohio Attorney General for Continuing Professional Training (CPT) for the Police Department.
  • Authorized the acceptance of a Community Recycling Awareness Grant from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District in an amount up to $5,000 to purchase recycling magnets. The magnets will be inserted in Shaker Life magazine and will contain recycling information for residents.
  • Authorized an Agreement between Shaker Heights and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to utilize the city’s Community Cost Share over the next seven years to reimburse the city for the construction of storm water management facilities at University Hospitals Management Services Center on Warrensville Center Road.
  • Approved and authorized the execution of a Shared Services Agreement with Cuyahoga County for sharing certain capital equipment on an as-needed basis.
  • Authorized a sole-source contract with Pierce Manufacturing, without competitive bidding, in the amount of $238,000 for the mechanical refurbishment of a 2003 Pierce Fire Engine for the Shaker Heights Fire Department.
  • Authorized the acceptance and appropriation of funds in the amount of $2,500 from the 2016-17 Ohio Department of Public Safety EMS grant.
  • Authorized the application for and acceptance of a 2017-18 Ohio Department of Public Safety EMS grant.
  • Approved amending the city’s building code to better define the fee schedule in four areas—Fire Suppression Systems, Mechanical Exhaust Systems, HVAC, and Gas Lines.
  • Granted a right-of-way license and authorized the issuance of a permit to AT&T Ohio, within the right-of-way on the tree lawn along Nicholas Avenue adjacent to the side property of 3690 Sudbury Road, for a new pole providing for transmission of telecommunication services.
  • Authorized the application for and acceptance of a grant in the total amount of up to $250,000 from the Ohio Department of Transportation for a multi-purpose bicycle/pedestrian path along Farnsleigh Road in the Van Aken District. No local match is required for this grant.
  • Authorized the Issuance of Non-Tax Revenue Bonds to Reimburse the Economic Development and Housing Reserve Fund for its contribution of $750,000 to the University Hospitals Underground Water Retention Facility Project.
  • Authorized the initial payment to RMS under the Development and Use Agreement for Van Aken District Phase 1.
  • Amended the 2017 Appropriations Ordinance.
  • Authorized the execution of 15 Then-and-Now certificates.

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 a.m.
Patty Knoth

Finance Committee
March 20, 2017

Present: Council members Nancy Moore, Sean Malone, Earl Williams, Rob Zimmerman; citizen members Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley, Brian Rosenfelt
Also present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis, Economic Development Director Tania Menesse, Housing Director William Hanson

The meeting commenced at 7:30 a.m. with approval of the Feb. 21, 2017, regular meeting minutes.

Agenda Items

  • Approved and authorized the execution of a development agreement with Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC) for the sale, rehabilitation and re-sale of the city-owned property at 3625 Ludgate Road, authorizing the disposition of city-owned property no longer needed for municipal purposes without competitive bidding. This sale transaction is cost-neutral to the city.
  • Authorized a maintenance agreement with Van Aken Shopping Center (developer RMS) for the Van Aken District Public Improvements.
  • Authorized a forgivable loan in the maximum amount of $350,000 to McGlinchey Stafford to build out 20,000 square feet in the Van Aken District. McGlinchey Stafford has signed a 10-year lease to occupy office space in the office building anchoring the Warrensville/Farnsleigh retail corner.
  • Authorized the transfer of $17,751 from the General Fund into the Housing Inspection Department contractual services account for the demolition of 3598 Menlo Road.
  • Authorized the execution of certificates by the Director of Finance and the payments of amounts due upon certain contracts for which the Finance Director has issued Then and Now Certificates.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 a.m.
Patty Knoth

City Council, February 2017

March 1st, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council
Feb. 27, 2017

The mayor called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. All members were present.  The minutes of the Jan. 23, 2017 meeting were approved.

The mayor discussed changes resulting from Cleveland Water shifting from quarterly to monthly billing. The city has an issue with the high cost of sewer service, which the city is subsidizing with its General Fund. He suggested a modest charge to residents to make up the difference and said that the city would examine whether another approach might be needed.

Public comment on agenda items: Sarah Scivoni expressed support for the second item on the agenda (see below) but also supported the action Council took two weeks ago to wait and look at the resolution more fully as well as allowing for public comment.

The second item was the adoption of a resolution “strongly” opposing a proposal in Gov. Kasich’s 2017-18 budget, which calls for the centralized (state-run) collection of municipal income taxes paid by businesses and professions. Mayor Leiken said this may cause a substantial loss of revenue needed to support the health, safety, welfare and economic development efforts of Ohio municipalities. All Council members were in favor with the exception of Tres Roeder, who said that while the state mandate goes against free market principles, it could save the city money if it used the state system (1% vs. 2% with RITA). He said that while he did not support the resolution, he noted very good points in the proclamation.

Other items on the agenda were unanimously approved:

  • An ordinance amending the city’s Building Code by clarifying categories of building permits and fees
  • An ordinance authorizing the application for and acceptance of a Community Recycling Awareness Grant from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District in an amount up to $5,000
  • An ordinance authorizing the execution of a Shared Services Agreement with Cuyahoga County for the sharing of certain capital equipment on an as-needed basis
  • An Ordinance authorizing the execution of a Community Cost Share Agreement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to reimburse the City for the construction of storm water management facilities at the University Hospitals Management Services Center on Warrensville Center Road
  • An Ordinance authorizing a sole source contract with Pierce Manufacturing, without competitive bidding, for the mechanical refurbishment of the city’s 2003 Pierce fire engine, in the total estimated amount of $238,000 for the Fire Department. Elimination of competitive bidding was a concern for Council, but this was a custom-made vehicle and it is best done by the equipment manufacturer. Council members Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder and Rob Zimmerman emphasized that they didn’t like noncompetitive bidding, but that it is a fire truck and it needs to be reliable–and the city does save money by not needing to buy a new one.
  • An ordinance on first reading authorizing the acceptance of a 2016-17 State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services Grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Medical Services in the amount of $2,500 for the purchase of EMS supplies for the Fire Department Rescue Squads
  • An application for and acceptance of a 2017-18 State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services Grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Medical Services, in a yet-to-be-determined amount, for the purchase of EMS supplies for the Fire Department Rescue Squads
  • An ordinance on first reading authorizing the City’s application for and acceptance of a grant in the total amount of up to $250,000 from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for bicycle/pedestrian facilities along Farnsleigh Road in the Van Aken District. Councilman Earl Williams thanked Joyce Braverman for her work on this.
  • Provision for the collection of service payments in lieu of taxes for the Van Aken Shopping Center Project
  • A right-of-way license and the issuance of a permit to AT&T Ohio for work within the right of-way on the treelawn along Nicholas Avenue adjacent to the side-property of 3690 Sudbury Road for a new pole providing the transmission of telecommunication services
  • An ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of industrial development bonds in the maximum principal amount of $750,000 for the purpose of paying costs of constructing an underground storm water management system on property owned by University Hospitals Health System, appropriating the proceeds of the bonds and authorizing the expenditure of those proceeds for that purpose
  • The amending of an ordinance making appropriations for the current expenses and other expenditures of the city for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017
  • The execution of Then and Now Certificates by the Director of Finance and the payments of amounts due for various purchase orders

Public Comment on Other Items

Nine individuals spoke to Council imploring them to pass a resolution declaring Shaker Heights a Sanctuary City. Brandon Cornic, a physician and resident, wanted the city’s elected officials to vote their opposition to President Trump’s executive order and anti-immigration policies, noting that Shaker Heights is an accepting community and home to people with diverse backgrounds and interests. An Iranian physician emphasized to Council that the city’s ability to recruit and retain top scientific talent was affected by the president’s executive order.  She said that the change in federal immigration policy was having a deleterious effect on doctors and their patients. The physician noted that this could lead to a potentially disastrous public health problem and mentioned people not getting immunized because of fear of going to the doctor. She said, “Immigration is not a spectator sport.”

Dana Price, an assistant professor at CWRU, said the executive action on immigration has affected our community and when immigrants fear interactions with police and health care professionals, the community must act. She asked Council to pass a resolution making Shaker Heights a Sanctuary City and requested to meet with the mayor.

Mayor Leiken stated that Council appreciated the speakers and all those in the audience (Council chambers were full) and that he was deeply disturbed by the president’s order, especially in that it expresses so much antipathy to our immigrants, who contribute to our country every day. “It’s not just hostility towards immigrants, it’s hostility towards anyone who’s different and it’s created an environment where people feel empowered to discriminate,” he said.

The mayor said Council will consider their request but can’t act on it at 9:30 p.m.
Audrey Morris

City Council Work Session, February 2017

February 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council Work Session and Special Meeting
Feb. 13, 2017

Present: Mayor Earl Leiken; Council members Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Johnston Senturia, Earl Williams, Rob Zimmerman; Law Director William Ondrey Gruber
Absent: Council member Anne Williams

The meeting opened with a presentation about Justice System Reform by Shaker Heights Municipal Court Judge K.J. Montgomery. The judge explained that the reform push is a national movement and that Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is leading the effort as co-chair of the National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices. County Executive Armond Budish, County Court of Common Pleas Presiding Judge John J. Russo, and County Law Director Bob Triozzi are also working to support reform. Judge Montgomery would like to see the county’s mayors and managers involved in the project, too.

Reform plans could lead to a huge overhaul, the judge said, but will probably start with bail changes: making sure there are no “loading” of charges, that bail is set at a reasonable level, and that model criteria (such as those suggested by the Arnold Foundation) be used to set bond. Centralized booking, drug tests and GPS monitoring might help lead to fewer monetary bonds. No one wants to deprive the charged person of his or her livelihood or family, but there is always the chance that the person will “run” and never show up in court. So a lot of issues have to be worked through (and more money will have to be spent) before meaningful changes can be made, the judge said.

Next on the agenda was a big thank-you to one of Shaker’s EMS teams, who helped save the life of Beachwood resident Cary Hodous, 62, who went into cardiac arrest at the Cleveland Skating Club last August–but lived thanks to the help of other club members and to the timely arrival of Shaker firefighters. The five members of the EMS team were presented with a plaque by Mr. Hodous, Dan Ellenberger (director of University Hospitals’ emergency services) and Dr. Marco Costa, president of UH’s Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute (and a Shaker resident).

Finally, Council held a special meeting to discuss the passage of a resolution opposing a particular proposal in Governor John Kasich’s new budget. The governor recommended that the state of Ohio rather than RITA act as the city’s agent in collecting business (not personal) taxes. Mayor Leiken explained that this would prevent Shaker and other municipalities from having control over the tax collection process, and that it is unlikely Shaker could expect to receive from the state the same level of service RITA provides when it comes to making timely payments of tax receipts and collecting delinquent taxes.

While the mayor urged Council to pass the resolution immediately, Mr. Roeder and Mr. Malone said they would like to do a little more research before voting. Mr. Zimmerman said that taking another two weeks before the vote wouldn’t make much difference. Mr. Roeder noted that the state would charge less for collecting the business taxes than RITA does, but Mr. Leiken contended that the difference would not be much help if tax receipts were delayed in reaching city coffers.

 

 

Board of Education, February 2017

February 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
Feb. 14, 2017

Present: Board members Mr. Dykema (president), Mr. Issacs (vice president), Mr. Clawson, Dr. Davidson, Ms. Sutherland; Superintendent Dr. Hutchings, Asst. Superintendent of Business and Operations Mr. Wilkins, Treasurer Mr. Christman, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Breeden, Director of Communications and Public Relations Scott Stephens.

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. This observer arrived at 6:30 p.m. Mr. Wilkins presented an update on the Capital Project plans:

The district’s capital needs total approximately $188 million; that amount would bring all district facilities up to OFCC (Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) standards. Of that total, approximately $173 million applies to the district’s schools only. The $30 million bond levy represents just 17 percent of the capital needs for the schools only.

The proposal for itemized expenditures is:

  • $9 million for technology hardware & connectivity
  • $6 million for flexible furniture
  • $5.5 million for roof replacements
  • $4 million for chillers and boilers
  • $2 million for required ADA improvements
  • $2 million for athletic field improvements
  • $500,000 for security cameras & alarms
  • $500,000 for electrical system upgrades
  • $500,000 for parking lots

If the ballot issue is approved in May, the first phase of construction will begin in June and end by mid-August. Resumption of construction will begin in the summer of 2018.

Board members discussed the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Heights Career Tech Prep Consortium, which is to include the city districts of Bedford, Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Maple Heights, Shaker Heights and Warrensville Heights. The consortium complies with the career-technical education program (CTE) required by the state and will last for a five-year period.

Dr. Breen presented the newly revised and formatted Academic Program Planning Guide (2017-19) for Shaker Heights Middle School and Shaker Heights High School. The guide is to be used by guidance departments and by parents to help determine appropriate academic/curriculum pathways.

Treasurer Bryan Christman presented the monthly financial report. Full accounting and details can be found on the shaker.org website.

Dr. Hutchings noted that the featured speaker at an area meeting of school superintendents was Meryl Johnson, recently elected to the State Board of Education. A retired teacher and the sole educator on the state board, she will represent Shaker Heights and much of Cuyahoga County.

Recognition of Students and Staff 

A group of faculty and staff will present Shaker’s Bridges and Summer Experience Program (SELF—Summer, Exploration, Learning and Fun) at the College Board’s 2017 HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) “A Dream Deferred” Conference with the purpose of sharing how schools can effectively recruit and retain African-American and other minority students in their AP programs.

The district has earned the Auditor of the State Award with Distinction for stewardship of public funds. Only 5 percent of Ohio school districts and local governments receive this award. A number of student recognitions and awards were garnered for performances on the following: Medusa Mythology Exam: 8 out of 13 awards included a senior who earned a Gold Medal for the third year in a row; 21 medals at the National Classical Etymology Exam; a first-time first-place award for the seventh grade Power of the Pen team at the District Tournament; and top awards for three eighth graders at the same tournament.
Anne Batzell

Safety & Public Works Committee, February 2017

February 9th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Safety and Public Works Committee
Feb. 3, 2017

Present: Council members Julianna Senturia (chair), Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder; citizen members Austin McGuan, Brian Gleisser, Jeremy Paris
Also present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Chief of Police Jeffrey DeMuth, Dir. of Public Works Patricia Speese, Chief of Fire Patrick Sweeney

Chief Sweeney requested and received approval for three items:

  1. To waive competitive bidding and award a contract for $238,000 to Pierce Manufacturing for the mechanical refurbishment of a custom built 2003 Pierce Fire Engine.
  2. Acceptance and appropriation of $2,500 from the 2016-17 Ohio Department of Public Safety-Division of EMS grant for purchase of EMS medical supplies.
  3. Permission to apply for and accept any awarded funds from the 2017-18 Ohio Department of Public Safety-Division of EMS grant for equipment, training and research.

Ms. Speese requested and received approval for three items:

  1. Permission to apply for a Community Recycling Awareness Grant of $5,000 from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District to pay for magnets imprinted with recycling guidelines to be inserted into Shaker Magazine.
  2. Permission to enter an agreement with Cuyahoga County to participate in its Shared Services Agreement. This allows sharing of resources, equipment, and personnel when appropriate.
  3. Authorization of an agreement between the city and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to utilize the city’s Community Cost Share over the next seven years to reimburse the city for the construction of storm water management facilities at University Hospitals Management Services Center. The goal is to build an underground water detention system to alleviate serious flooding in the Northfield/Warrensville Center area. The funds will be used to pay debt service on the bonds the city will issue to replenish the Economic Development and Housing Reserve Fund that will initially be used to pay for construction of the flood control project.

Police Chief DeMuth requested appropriation of $10,000 from the State of Ohio Attorney General for continuing professional training of police officers. This and the aforementioned monetary issues were recommended for approval and will be forwarded to the Finance Committee and City Council.
Linda Lissauer

Board of Education, January 2017

February 1st, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
January 10, 2017

Board members present: Mr. Clawson, Dr. Davidson, Mr.Dykema, Mr. Issacs, Ms. Sutherland
Others present: Superintendent Dr. Hutchings; Asst. Superintendent Mr. Wilkins; Treasurer Mr. Christman; Chair of Finance & Audit Committee for the District, Mr. Peebles; consultant from Triad Research Group

Mr. Clawson, who had served an extra term as president of the board, stepped down. Mr. Dykema was unanimously elected president of the board. Mr. Isaacs was unanimously elected vice president.

Mr. Dykema allowed extra time for public comments in order to hear from the many residents who had thoughts to share, much of it concerning the district facilities plan. A number of parents/teachers advocated for an update of flexible furniture when considering future expenditures. Another substantial group of citizens spoke about the importance of the swimming programs and extensive use of the public pools in Shaker. (This interest was also a concern of residents surveyed by Triad Research Group.) Other resident comments regarded the heavy tax burden already carried by the community.

This meeting was a regular organizational/business meeting that covered usual matters, including the treasurer’s monthly finance and budget report; however, the major emphasis of the meeting and time spent was devoted to a thorough and lengthy discussion of the District Capital Plan Proposals, concluding with a vote by the board.

Prior to the vote by the board, detailed reports were presented by the Triad Research Group and the Finance and Audit Committee, a volunteer group of independent financial experts. Their reports were followed by earnest, specific questioning and an in-depth discussion by board members. Details of the reports to the board can be accessed at shaker.org.

Triad Research Group Summary (based on data gathered from 402 residents):

— Passing a $50 million bond issue would be possible, but would require a strong informational campaign.
— A greater percentage of voters (+ 8%) surveyed would support a $30 million issue that would pay for basic improvements to all the school buildings and the installation of modern safety and security systems.
— Voters are largely unaware of the need for school repairs and the improvement or replacement of the Middle School, so it will be important to tell voters about the conditions of the Middle School–the school that is in greatest need of repair, renovation and compliance with ADA standards.

The Decision of the Board:

—”Acting with the advice of its Finance and Audit Committee,” the board “voted unanimously to place a 3.76-mill bond issue and permanent improvement levy on the May 2 ballot to raise $30 million for the District’s most urgent and critical capital needs.” The board agreed “to put aside a $50 million option that would have included building a new Middle School.”
—The proposal going before the voters includes the “ issuance of bonds for immediate costs as well as a 1.25-mill permanent improvement levy” that will develop a stable funding source for future repairs and maintenance.

In looking forward, the board will be answering all questions put to it and encouraging the public to contact board members. There will be an ongoing effort to educate the public about the critical need to maintain the district’s aging schools and to avoid a crisis situation. Board members agreed they will be looking forward to developing possible partnerships with the City and the Library to address some of the needs of the school district, and the board will also be looking to the Shaker Schools Foundation as a possible funding source for some the “wishes” that no longer can be considered, given the adoption of a more fiscally modest plan.

Dr. Hutchings’ report was an appreciation for all the intensive work the board has done over the past two years. He further commented on the contributions of staff and consultants. Mr. Wilkins was mentioned specifically for his expertise in the area of financial guidance. Dr Hutchings said, “We have come a long way in two years and have really set our priorities.” He felt that the board, in coming to a difficult decision, had been fiscally responsible and politically astute.
Anne Batzell

City Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, December 2016

January 18th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission
Dec. 6, 2016

Present: Jack Boyle, Kevin Madison, David Weiss, Councilman Rob Zimmerman
Also present: Joyce Braverman, Dan Feinstein, Planning Department; William Gruber, Law Director

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Zimmerman at 7 p.m. The minutes of the Sept. 15 and Oct. 2, 2016, meeting were unanimously approved. Mr. Zimmerman read a proclamation honoring Kevin Madison, whose last meeting (after 20 years of service) was this evening.

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

VAN AKEN CONNECTIONS PLAN

A public meeting was held on the request of the city for review and adoption of the Van Aken District Connections Plan. The city has prepared a plan to develop a placemaking action plan that enhances the public realm, establishes the district’s identity and celebrates the district. The plan focuses on connecting the Van Aken District with the surrounding neighborhoods, incorporating pedestrian and bike circulation, a wayfinding signage plan, public art, green infrastructure and landscaping. The plan was prepared during a public process that included public meetings in June and September 2016. The City Planning Commission reviews city plans and studies and makes a recommendation to Council on adoption.

Mr. Boyle said that a cross street to the east side of the district, with a light, should be incorporated into the plan. At the public hearing, a resident asked if there would be a safe crossing from Winslow Road to the district. Ms. Braverman stated that it would be safer to cross at the lights located at Chagrin and also at Van Aken.

The global development club from the high school presented a park plan for green space at the district. A representative from the bicycle club asked that there be a plan for multi-modal transportation throughout the city.

As moved by Mr. Boyle, second by Mr. Weiss, the plan will be recommended to City Council.  The motion was unanimously approved.

BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

THE DEALERSHIP – 3558 LEE ROAD

Mr. Boyle recused himself from this case.

This was a continuation of a public hearing on the request of Dan Musson, designer, representing The Dealership, 3558 Lee Road, for a variance to the number and size of secondary window signs. The applicant proposes four secondary window signs facing Lee Road. The new window signs will read “The Dealership.” Code allows one secondary window sign on this building at a maximum of 6 square feet in size. The applicant proposes two smaller vinyl window graphic signs of 5.75 square feet and 1.6 square feet on either side of the door. The applicant also proposes two supergraphics of the letter “D” fabricated from semi-transparent vinyl window graphics. The supergraphics are 137.8 square feet and 30.8 square feet in size. There is one primary wall sign also proposed for the front façade; the sign is 8.4 square feet in size and meets code requirements.

There was no public comment at the hearing.

As moved by Mr. Weiss, second by Mr. Madison, the request was unanimously approved.

GROSS RESIDENCE – 22649 SHAKER BLVD. and
KEEN/HORTSMAN RESIDENCE – 22775 SHAKER BLVD.

These two cases were reviewed together. A public hearing was held on the request of Abby Jackson, Aristotle Design Group, representing Gary Gross, 22649 Shaker Blvd., and Paul R. Keen, 22775 Shaker Blvd., for a variance to the fence location and height regulations in the front yard. The applicant and his neighbor purchased and split the lot between them. The applicants propose to fence each half of the new side yard with a 4-foot tall ornamental aluminum fence in the front yard. Mr. Gross’s fence is proposed to extend to 14 feet behind the Shaker Boulevard sidewalk. Code allows a front yard fence set back 50 feet from the sidewalk on this block and a maximum height of 3 feet. The new side yard will be completely re-landscaped and will include a 5-foot-tall privet hedge and 8- to 10-feet-tall hornbeam trees in front of the fence. Mr. Keen’s fence is proposed to extend to 30 feet behind the Shaker Boulevard sidewalk, and will also be completely re-landscaped to include a comparable privet hedge and hornbeam trees in front of the fence.

There were no public comments.

As moved by Mr. Boyle, second by Mr. Weiss, unanimous approval was granted for the Gross property, subject to staff approval of the landscaping. As moved by Mr. Weiss, second by Mr. Madison, unanimous approval was granted for the Keen property, subject to staff approval of the landscaping.

ST. DOMINIC CHURCH AND SCHOOL – 3450 NORWOOD ROAD

A public hearing was held on the request of Major Harrison, Brilliant Electric Sign Co., representing St. Dominic Church, 3450 Norwood Road, to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a change to a non-conforming sign. The applicant proposes to replace and enlarge an existing legal non-conforming sign on the building. The existing sign is one of three signs for the school on the property. The existing sign is 13 square feet in size. The proposed replacement sign is 26.9 square feet in size. The wall sign identifies the entrance to the Parish Center at St. Dominic School. It is located near the school entrance and is not readily visible from Van Aken Boulevard. Code allows a non-conforming sign to be replaced, but not enlarged to make it more non-conforming.

The Landmark Commission approved the sign at its October meeting. There were no comments at the public hearing.

As moved by Mr. Boyle, second by Mr. Madison, the request was unanimously granted.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
Gail Gibson