Observer Reports

Board of Education, February 2019

March 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 12, 2019

Present: Jeffrey Isaacs, president; Ayesha Bell- Hardaway, Lisa Cremer, Heather Weingart; Absent: William Clawson

Others present: Treasurer Bryan Christman, Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Wilkins

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m.

Mr. Florence, principal of Mercer School, along with fourth grade students Zoie Durham and Nathan Bordeaux, opened the meeting detailing the learning opportunities through the IB program at Mercer School. Mr. Florence spoke of on-going faculty and staff assessments. He referred to a vigorous look at strategies regarding enhancing individual learning styles and encouraging problem solving. Also detailed were after-school enrichment activities.

(Note: This observer report does not necessarily follow the order of the published agenda.) Fernway Update: Director of Operations Dave Boyer and representatives of Van Auken Akins Architects and Gilbane Building Co. presented progress made from mid-January to mid-February. Picture scans of the interior were shown with all hallway walls taken down. All asbestos has been removed. One can see a 360-degree walkthrough online at Shaker.org—Fernway School Update. Abatements and interior preparations began in December. March 1 is the completion date for this phase. The construction phase is expected to take approximately 14 months. The school is to be reopened in August 2020. In response to a board member question, some memorabilia has been saved from the old building, including a number of plaques. The design team from Van Aukin Akins has met frequently with teachers and other stakeholders. Facilities Construction Update for Bond Levy Projects: The overriding principle is to meet the standards of “safe, warm and dry.” Dave Boyer was joined by representatives of Gilbane and Van Auken Akins, who presented the summer construction timeline. Gilbane’s final cost model validating the budget, to be published in mid-March, is to be authorized by the noard. In June work at all schools will begin, and will stop on August 21. Projects will include roof work, security upgrades, fire alarm projects, foundation and masonry restoration, boiler and generator projects, and high school parking lot replacement. Some ADA improvements have been pushed back to 2020, as the needs are varied and have yet to be analyzed for each school building.

Comments from the Board: Dr. Wilkins expressed concern regarding security issues at the Middle School, considering it has spaces that are uniquely challenging. Board members complimented Gilbane, noting that Gilbane participates in “daily huddles” and weekly communications with contractors and work force. Formal meetings detailing work are recorded, assuring accountability.

Superintendent Search: Mr. Isaacs reiterated the intention of the board is to keep the search transparent and inclusive. He updated the superintendent search timeline. In mid-November the national search firm Ray & Associates began work with the board. In early December, two community meetings were held to involve the public to share thoughts on a leadership profile for the next superintendent. A survey was posted online at shaker.org. In mid-December, the superintendent position was posted. In mid-February, top candidates are to be presented to the Board. In early March, interviews with top candidates will be conducted and finalists will be introduced at public meetings. Each candidate will make day-long visits. Public forums will be recorded. Opportunities for feedback will be available from all stakeholders. Announcement of the new superintendent will be made by the end of March.

2019-2020 Academic Program Planning Guide: Dr. Breeden presented the program planning guide for approval. New is the addition of class choices for Woodbury students. The planning guide is organized by grade level, 5th-12th grades. Also, now it is a totally online format, which will bring significant cost savings over the traditional guide (revised every other year). It can be downloaded for printing purposes, and Dr. Breeden noted that the schools will print it out for individuals if needed.

Adoption and Revision of Board Policies—the following items of note were unanimously approved by the Board: Recommendations of the Equity Task Force previously submitted to the district were turned over to a district committee tasked to further define equity as it applies specifically to our student population and to define a policy for the district. The board unanimously approved an Equity Policy for the District.

Changes in Assignments: A transition agreement was executed by Jonathan Kuehnle, and the district reassigned Mr. Kuehnle from principal of the high school to project manager-administration effective in January 2019. Also effective in January 2019: substitute high school principal David Glasner was reassigned as interim principal. The search for a high school principal was initiated in January and as of early February, 25 applications had been received. Dr. Erin Herbruck, Director of Professional Learning for the district, will serve as project manager for the search. The firm Finding Leaders, Inc., based in Cuyahoga County, will help conduct the search.

Mr. Christman’s Financial Report: The monthly report consisted of financial statements and interim investments for the year-to-date ended Jan. 31, 2019. They were accepted and filed for audit. The library budget was also reviewed by the treasurer. A budget of $25 million appropriated for building improvements, including reconstruction and contents replacement of Fernway, was approved by the board.

Board Member Reports: Ms. Bell-Hardaway and Ms. Weingart are tasked with identifying a new Library Board member who will serve a seven-year term. At present there are 19 applications. Interviews will occur at the end of February into March.

Public Communication: A resident commented that more oversight was needed regarding the search for the district’s superintendent. He cited what he believed to be an unfair practice in regards to a potential candidate. Another resident was interested in the status of the new five-year strategic plan. Another read a letter in support of a candidate for superintendent. That candidate herself spoke of her qualifications for the position and asked for support of the community.

Recognitions: Seniors Shekinah Hooper and Miles Callahan were two of nine students selected to receive the CIA Recognition Award, which includes a $20,000 scholarship upon admission to the Cleveland Institute of Art. Additional awards were given to a number of Shaker students at the Scholastic Art Competition Ceremony. Added to a list of others, six more senior student-athletes have signed Letters of Intent with the following schools: Bates College, Denison University, Erie Community College, Marshall University, Swarthmore College, and Urbana College. Freshman Ben Rakow qualified to advance to the Cleveland competition of the National Shakespeare Competition. Seniors Harlan FriedmanRowell, Hallie Dial and Adonis Fryer, and Freshmen Nora Konrad and Somiya Schirokauer were congratulated for their participation in the in-school competition. Middle School Robotic Club teammates Sarah Marcus, Hannah Whitney and Nico Moulthrop finished in first place in the overall Robotics Challenge at the Kalahari VEX IQ Qualifying Competition. The team will go to the state competition in March. Anders Butsch’s and Jacob Hearty’s team earned a 10th place finalist ranking out of 184 teams. Shaker’s IB program was featured in a cover story of International School Magazine. Shaker students are featured on the cover; the article was written by Scott Stephens and Jen Kuhel. Dr. John Moore is quoted. John Rizzo, Director of Technology, worked on an Augmented Reality project with a small group of Middle School students to fabricate a “Reality Sandbox” using software from UC Davis. A computer was built by the students to accomplish this.

The public meeting was adjourned to go into executive session at 7:45 p.m.

Anne Batzell

Recreation Committee, January 2019

March 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Jan. 16, 2019

Present: Tres Roeder, Council member and chair; Terri Breeden, Deputy Director of Curriculum for the school district; Troy Neujahr, citizen member; Alexandria Nichols, Director of Recreation; Jeri Chaikin, Chief Administrative Officer; and David Weiss, Mayor

Mr. Roeder called the meeting to order at 6 p.m.

The minutes of the November 2018 meeting were approved as written. 

Only one item of business was on the evening’s agenda.

Thornton Park Ice Rink Study Presentation  

Ms. Nichols presented the results of a 2018 study and evaluation of the Thornton Park Ice Rink.

Goal of the project was to understand existing conditions and plan for future community needs. Four different firms with decades of building assessment and rink design-and-build experience worked on the study. Engineer Tim Pool was present to help with the presentation. 

All major systems were evaluated: electrical, mechanical, structural, HVAC, public spaces, and office spaces. More specifically, the rink study looked at the ice rink and refrigeration systems, the mechanical systems, the electrical systems, the architecture/design and how the facility is used, the structural systems and parking walkways, and the building exterior.

The three-sided rink opened in 1969, with a fourth wall added in 1972. A lobby expansion was done in 1987.

Current challenges include an aging infrastructure, limited locker room space, limited community meeting space, inconvenient concessions location, and changing community needs. The approach to the facility in recent years has been to repair and replace rather than improve. A PowerPoint with lots of visuals highlighted the challenges.

The PowerPoint also highlighted recommendations, including a two-page list of Repair and Replace and Aesthetic or Optional upgrades. Those were prioritized by code requirements, safety-related items, facility management improvements, operational efficiencies, and aesthetic and optional upgrades. The rink floor has been well maintained but is slated for a complete renovation at a cost of $650,000 within the next 10 years.

The Repair and Replace list totaled $1.31 million; the Aesthetic/Optional upgrades ranged from a little over $2 million to $2.8 million.

Current annual expenses for the rink are $921,369, with revenue of $552,850. 

The committee asked a number of clarifying questions and wondered what a total replacement of the building would cost. An estimate of $4 million was suggested.

This analysis is timely for a number of reasons. First, the facility is now 50 years old and some components are nearing the end of their useful life. Second, the information will be useful for the new long-range collaborative planning process now underway with the city, the schools, and the library. One goal of that is to plan as a community for long-term facility needs.  

The meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.

Jan Devereaux

Safety & Public Works Committee, March 2019

March 2nd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

March 1, 2019

Present: Council member Nancy Moore (chair); citizen members Jonathan Hren, James Sammon, Austin McGuan

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Chief of Fire Patrick Sweeney, Chief of Police Jeffrey DeMuth, police dept. administrative assistant Debra Messing

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 8:02 a.m. Ms. Moore announced there was no quorum but the committee would proceed with reviewing the agenda and seeking consensus. 

Agenda—Committee actions:

1. Regarding the minutes of the Feb. 1, 2019, meeting, there were no questions or amendments.

2. The Public Works Dept. presented a motion to ratify a plan with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District for garbage fees and disposal. The city also works with CCSWD on recycling, litter collection, household hazardous waste, and scrap tire disposal. If the city fails to ratify the regional plan, the state EPA would write the city’s plan. The CCSWD plan continues the city’s current fee of $1.50 per ton until 2023, when the fee will rise to $2 per ton. For comparison, the average state fee is $4.50 per ton. The city disposes of 8,300 tons per year; this is reduced from 15,000 tons in 2003, a decline attributed to recycling, reuse, and a decline in residents, according to Ms. Speese. Ms. Speese said CCSWD is working on a municipal yard waste consortium and multifamily-building recycling programs. Committee members present approved the plan.

3. The Public Works Dept. presented a motion to ratify a contract based on an RFP for a longer-term arrangement with consultants who perform inspection services for city construction projects, including road resurfacing, waterline replacement, sewer improvements, and the like. The RFP was an attempt to obtain better pricing through a one-year contract with options to renew the following two years. The lowest bidder with the highest rating was Solar Testing Laboratories, bidding $50 per hour as compared to a prior average of $56 per hour. The city’s prior experience with Solar was limited to the Green Lake dredging project, and indirectly through the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. Mr. Sammon commented that his company had engaged Solar and been satisfied with its services. Inspections for most of the projects are actually paid by another entity, such as the Cleveland Water Dept., with the exception of street resurfacing. (Additional details are available online in the committee packet.) Committee members present approved the contract.

4. The Fire Department presented a motion to approve an application for a State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services Grant for money to “improve and enhance EMS and trauma patient care” through purchases of equipment, training and research. The total award varies with the number of applicants. The fund depends on collection of penalties statewide for seat-belt violations. Chief Sweeney said the city received $3,900 last year. This is a zero-match grant. Committee members present approved the application.

Following discussion on the motions on the agenda, there was some dialogue about miscellaneous matters. Ms. Speese said there will be many street repairs when the weather permits, because of extensive damage from freeze-thaw cycles and rain between snowstorms this winter, plus waterline repairs. Chief Sweeney said the Lytle Road housefire investigation is not complete; the house is slated for demolition. Chief DeMuth said the driver who hit several cars in the parking lot behind the state liquor store had been apprehended.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:32 a.m.

Annette Tucker Sutherland

City Council Work Session & Special Meeting, February 2019

March 2nd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 22, 2019

Present: Mayor David Weiss; Council members Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Johnston Senturia, Earl Williams, Rob Zimmerman. Anne Williams was absent.

Also present: CAO Jeri Chaikin, Law Director William Ondrey Gruber, various department heads

The work session began with a presentation by two representatives of Dominion East Ohio’s construction team. Kyle Miller, director of external affairs, and Mike Antonius, manager of gas design, reviewed the company’s five-year “pipeline infrastructure replacement” program. The program’s 25-year plan includes replacement of 5,672 miles of old pipeline (steel, iron and copper dating from before 1960) with hardy plastic pipes. Residents affected by upcoming projects (work on Wicklow Road is getting started now) will be notified before projects start, and they will be handing over responsibility for lines from the street to each house.

In the last 10 years, 19 miles of pipeline have been replaced, and the plan between now and 2022 is to replace 114 more miles. The city collects taxes from Dominion East Ohio based on the company’s “assets in ground.” In 2017, the company paid $512,000 in taxes to Shaker Heights. The company has spent about $13 million on Shaker projects since 2016 and will spend another $6 million in 2019.

The rest of the work session was a discussion of proposed policy and ordinance changes related to regulating “hot works” performed by contractors in the city. The changes were drafted following the 2018 fire at Fernway school, where workers were repairing the roof using torches. Investigators determined that the torch work ignited the fire, and city officials determined that more regulation of this type of work is needed so destructive fires can be prevented.

Following a lengthy discussion of the drafted amendments to the city’s contractor registration ordinances, fire code and building code, Council went into session and voted to adopt the new policy and ordinance changes. The new law, to go into effect in mid-March, tightens requirements for receiving building permits and fire department permits for hot work, which causes 58 percent of fires and 85 percent of civilian deaths each year in the United States. The new law also requires the building department and the fire department to work more closely together when permits are issued and increases contractors’ insurance requirements. Hot work is done mostly on commercial and government buildings, not single homes.

Council also voted to adopt amendments to the city’s ordinances regarding public notification of meetings of public bodies (otherwise known as “sunshine laws”). The new ordinances update and modernize notification by recognizing the ubiquitous use of digital over print communication and the fact that the city’s website is easily accessible and notices are also sent via email and on social media. Postings will still be printed, but few people view them.

Anyone who wishes to be emailed meeting notices may request to be added to the city’s email list, and the price of paper copies of public records is lowered from 10 to 5 cents per page. Digital copies are free.

Agendas, meeting packets, meeting minutes and audio recordings will be posted on the city’s website, ShakerOnline.com, not only for Council meetings, but also for meetings of committees, commissions and most boards. Recordings of meetings of the Architectural Board of Review and Board of Appeals will not be posted (most of those meetings are long and involve individual residents), but they will be available by requests for public records. Agendas and recordings of meetings of city task forces will be posted on the city’s website, but minutes are not prepared following those meetings.

The meeting, which started at 7:15 p.m., adjourned shortly after 9 p.m.

Marcia Goldberg

City Council Regular Meeting, February 2019

March 2nd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 25, 2019

Present: Vice Mayor Anne Williams presided over the meeting as Mayor Weiss was out of town. Council members present: Sean Malone, Rob Zimmerman, Juliana Johnston Senturia, Nancy Moore, Earl Williams. Tres Roeder was absent.

Also present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Law Director William M. Ondrey Gruber, Finance Director Robert H. Baker, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Communications and Marketing Victoria Blank, Planning Director Joyce G. Braverman

Ms. Williams called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

The minutes of the Jan. 14, 2019, meeting were approved.

Nine out of 10 items on the agenda were passed declaring an emergency.

Items on the agenda unanimously approved:

A permit for Lee Road Learning Center, a child daycare center, at 3663 Lee Road

A dedication as a right-of-way of the city-owned median on University Boulevard NW between the city’s boundary with University Heights and Fairmount Circle

Authorization of a contract with GPD Group for $63,311 for consulting services for the Huntington Sanitary Sewer Overflow project

Authorization of a contract with Jack Doheny Cos., without formal competitive bidding, for the purchase of a Vactor Trailer (a vehicle that uses high pressure water jetters to clean sewer mains and laterals and is pivotal to cleaning and inspection work) that had been rented by the city for $20,750 plus $17,250 in additional rental payments. The purchase is more fiscally responsible when compared to renting the equipment on a month-to-month basis.

An amendment making appropriations for reimbursement of $1,995.17 received from Medical Mutual of Ohio to be used for Lunch and Learn events. This is a reimbursement to the city from money employees dedicated to their health spending accounts but did not use. It is a “use it or lose it” situation for the employees as any amount that is not used is given to the city.

Authorization of a contract with Shark & Minnow Inc. for professional marketing and public relations consulting to promote Moreland Infill Housing for $30,000–the total contract with the company not to exceed $165,000.

Authorization of a contract with Coventry Land Co. in the amount of $50,000 for professional sustainability consulting services

Approval to enter into a contract with Dise & Co. for professional consulting services for the recruitment of an Economic Development Director (a position that has been posted on the city’s website, Indeed.com, and other websites since May 2018). The city has interviewed a number of candidates but has not found the ideal person for the job and feels the best option is to hire a human resources consulting firm. The job was previously held by Tania Menesse, who is now the Director of Community Development for the City of Cleveland.

The authorization of various Then and Now Certificates requested by the Finance Director for the payment of various purchase orders

Approval of a liquor permit for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink at 3427 Tuttle Rd. in the Van Aken District

There was no public comment on any of the agenda items, but there was public comment thanking Council for making the Lee Road area a little better. It was suggested that the city could get a better return on its investment in the Moreland and Lomond areas if it considered a three-lane configuration on Lee Road. Ms. Williams thanked the gentleman for sharing his comments and said Council has been discussing many suggestions to revitalize the area.

Audrey Morris

Library Board of Trustees, February 2019

March 2nd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 18, 2019

Present: Board members Bertsch, Cicarella, Garett, Gleisser (president), Katz, Meinhard, and Williams. Also Library Director Amy Switzer and a number of library employees. The meeting began at 6:35 p.m.

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved, and there was no community comment (and no one from the community in attendance, except this LWV observer).

Mr. Gleisser appointed a committee to review the bylaws (an annual event) and to submit proposed changes (if any) in writing at least 10 days before the next meeting.

The director’s report was primarily devoted to consideration of the library renovation project. A member of RFC Contracting, which has been chosen to act as owner’s rep for the process, presented a two-page timeline with estimated dates for decisions and action. It is anticipated that the design team will be selected by the April board meeting (4/15) and the construction manager at the May meeting (5/20). Community engagement meetings are expected early in the design phase. The owner’s rep will be involved in day-to-day activities and offer monthly executive summaries. There was a general discussion of the need for minority representation goals and other issues surrounding labor and contractor matters.

The fiscal officer reported a slight discrepancy in the previous month’s financial statement due to software problems, and the board approved an amended statement. The board also approved the January financial statement. Discussion moved to the sort of instruments to be used for financing the renovation project. The board approved use of certificates of participation as the financing vehicle because it will allow funding to be in place for the entire project (which is needed, by law, before contracts can be let) and the payback time is longer-term than conventional bonds. City of Shaker Heights approval is needed because it is the owner of the property, but is expected, as the financing does not put the city at risk.

In other business, the board approved acceptance of gifts and heard a few personnel changes. Mr. Gleisser noted there have been 19 applications for the trustee seat being vacated by Ms. Williams. Interviews will be held and an appointment of the new board member is expected at the March 12 school board meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

Kathleen Hickman

Finance Committee, February 2019

March 2nd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 19, 2019

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Linda Lalley

Others present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Director of Communications and Marketing Victoria Blank, Senior Human Resources Analyst Monica Hayes

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:30 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  • Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the Jan. 22, 2019, meeting for approval. The minutes were approved without further discussion.
  • Ms. Speese presented a recommendation to enter into a contract with the GPD Group for consulting services for the Huntington Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) project in the amount of $63,311 so the city can proceed with this much-needed improvement. NEORSD will reimburse the city for 50 percent of the cost. Shaker Heights was awarded a $425,000 grant through the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) Member Community Infrastructure Program to mitigate the number of activations at the sanitary sewer overflows located at the Huntington/Southington intersection. One consultant’s technical approach advocated for the complete removal of the 8-inch existing sanitary pipe and replacing it with a larger diameter pipe. Public Works personnel reviewed historical cost data for similar projects and determined the consultant’s cost estimate was reasonable. This would be an addition to the original grant.

Mr. Williams asked if the sewers would be relined. Ms. Speese said they would, after any repairs. Mr. Malone asked if GPD had suggested the change of scope. Ms. Speese answered that they had. Ms. Moore asked what caused GPD to suggest this change. Ms. Speese responded that the owner of GPD had been working in Shaker sewers with his father since he was 16 years old. Ms. Lalley asked if the city was adequately protected regarding favoritism. Ms. Speese answered that Shaker, unlike some neighbor cities, requires a Request for Proposal (RFP) for all work greater than $20,000. Mr. Zimmerman asked if GPD was the consultant that recommended the addition. Ms. Speese replied they were. Mr. Malone added that it was nice to make people aware that the city requires bids on contracts; it is not common knowledge. He asked if it were possible to track all the bids received versus the winning contractors. Ms. Speese said that was possible. Ms. Moore cautioned that the bidding process should be examined closely—not simply by counting bids/win—because some companies are more knowledgeable and supply better-informed bids; and awareness of city ordinances often affects bids. Mr. Malone would just like to track the results as internal information. Ms. Lalley would like to know as well. Ms. Chaikin replied that this could be done. Ms. Speese added that whoever designs projects cannot inspect their own work; a different group inspects. Mr. Williams confirmed that Shaker still transitions from 4-inch pipes from houses to 8-inch pipes at the street. Ms. Speese said that the city would like to go to 10-inch pipes at the street, the largest available at our border with Cleveland. The recommendation was approved.

  • Ms. Speese next requested that the committee recommend that Council authorize the purchase of a Vactor Trailer in the amount of $20,750 from Jack Doheny Cos. Public Works has rented this Vactor Trailer from Jack Doheny over the course of 2018. We have used this piece of equipment to augment our Vactor Truck and to keep up with the many sewer maintenance needs of the city. The Vactor Trailer uses high-pressure water jets to clean sewer mains and laterals; it is towed behind a work truck, making transportation less laborious. Public Works made the determination that it would be fiscally responsible to purchase the Vactor Trailer in lieu of renting the equipment on a month-to-month basis. Jack Doheny was agreeable to the city’s request.

Mr. Williams wished to know the useful life of this equipment. Ms. Speese said the life is three-five years and this piece of equipment was new nine months ago. Mr. Zimmerman confirmed the equipment was used and we were buying at the residual value and asked if it was competitive. Ms. Speese replied this is the only unit with 1,000-gallon capacity versus competition at 750 gallons. Mr. Malone said the proposal sounded good: this equipment would pay for itself on one street given that contractors typically charge $2,400 to repair connections and the city averaged 30 houses per street needing connection repairs. City workers feel great when they can prevent problems rather than repair them. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Blank requested that the committee recommend approval of an amended contract with shark&minnow to include a scope of work to promote Moreland Infill Housing in an additional amount not to exceed $30,000. The total contract would now be $165,000. The term of the original contract is from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Mr. Malone asked the present status of building projects. Ms. Blank replied building would resume when weather allows. Mr. Malone asked if these homes were built as speculation units. Ms. Blank replied that these homes were built to plan. Nancy Moore remarked that these units need more marketing because people seem unaware of the modern amenities. Mr. Malone asked if homebuyers could choose their own builders. Ms. Blank answered buyers could not choose their own, but there were three designers approved to build in this area. Ms. Lalley wished to know if the scope of work is traditional media. Ms. Blank replied that city promotion would traditionally be print, radio and social media combined, but this project would not include print media; this is not a drive-through neighborhood, so it requires different signage. Ms. Lalley asked Ms. Blank to elaborate on the realtor discussions and their concerns during meetings with the Communications and Marketing Committee; specifically, one of that committee’s members was a PTO member and asked how shark&minnow had coordinated with the realtors and the schools. Ms. Blank answered that shark&minnow has initiated conversations with realtors to visit schools. Mr. Cicarella voiced his perception that the housing market had recovered, but questioned selling higher-priced homes in Moreland. Ms. Blank replied they are promoting the strengths of an established neighborhood close to rapid transit, the library and a lively retail district. Ms. Moore remarked that the 100 percent tax abatement for 10 years provides an attractive cost differential. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Hayes presented a request that the Finance and Administration Committee authorize the appropriation of a Medical Mutual of Ohio (MMO) reimbursement totaling $1,995.17 for Lunch & Learn events into the Human Resources Department Training account for 2019. The request was approved without discussion.
  • Ms. Chaikin presented a recommendation to enter into a contract with Coventry Land Company in an amount not-to-exceed $50,000 for sustainability consulting services for the period March 1, 2019, through Feb. 28, 2020. The city’s Sustainable Shaker Task Force was formed in response to the extraordinary rainfall incident of July 2014, which resulted in mass flooding. The city sought proposals in the fall of 2018 for a consulting firm or individuals with expertise in environmental sustainability, municipal operations, and organizational best practices to support the Sustainability Committee. Funds are available within the $60,000 appropriated by Council in the 2019 General Fund budget for sustainability activities. The remaining $10,000 can be used for other services needed to support the activities of the Sustainability Committee and its initiatives.

Mr. Cicarella questioned what this did for residents. Mr. Malone answered that the city can use sustainability as a promotional tool to attract new residents and inform residents how to be sustainable. Ms. Moore lamented there was no city staff to spearhead this effort. Ms. Lalley commented that the city needs to be proactive in promoting the city, considering realtors had shared with her their impression Shaker was stodgy and conservative. Mr. Williams commented that residents really need to embrace sustainability. The recommendation was approved.

  • Mr. Baker presented a request to recommend to Council that the Then and Now Certificate presented for specified transactions and the related payment be approved: $5,750 to Jack Doheny Cos. and $19,088 to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Mr. Williams wished to know if this was the last rental payment for the Vactor Trailer. Mr. Baker confirmed this. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Chaikin presented a recommendation to Council to enter into a contract with Dise & Co. for professional consulting services for the recruitment of Economic Development Director candidates for the city, at a cost not to exceed one-third of the base salary of the new director, plus minimal expenses. The city’s Director of Economic Development position has been vacant since March 2018, when Tania Menesse resigned. The city advertised the position and interviewed a number of candidates but has not found the ideal person for the job. At this time, the administration feels the best option is to hire a human resources consulting firm with experience in successful, diverse, mission-critical executive searches. The 2019 General Fund budget includes funding for a full-year salary and benefits for an Economic Development Director, which will be vacant for at least five months. Unexpended funds will therefore be available for Dise & Co.’s fee.

Ms. Moore commented that Mayor Weiss, with his background in economic development, has been able to help, but this position is critical to fill. Mr. Cicarella commented the funding is available but asked why we have had trouble filling the position. Ms. Chaikin responded the job had been posted but a professional recruiter had not been retained. The candidates interviewed had experience in exurban environments but were not knowledgeable in the promotion challenges of an established inner-ring city. Our salary is also low compared to younger suburbs, which requires a proactive recruiter. The recommendation was approved.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 9:04 a.m.

Frank Goforth

Recreation Committee, January 2019

February 15th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Jan. 16, 2019

Present: Tres Roeder, Council member and chair; Terri Breeden, Deputy Director of Curriculum for the school district; Troy Neujahr, citizen member; Alexandria Nichols, Director of Recreation; Jeri Chaikin, Chief Administrative Officer; and David Weiss, Mayor

Mr. Roeder called the meeting to order at 6 p.m. The minutes of the November 2018 meeting were approved as written.

Only one item of business was on the evening’s agenda: Thornton Park Ice Rink Study Presentation

Ms. Nichols presented the results of a 2018 study and evaluation of the Thornton Park Ice Rink.

Goal of the project was to understand existing conditions and plan for future community needs. Four different firms with decades of building assessment and rink design and build experience worked on the study. Engineer Tim Pool was present to help with the presentation. 

All major systems were evaluated: electrical, mechanical, structural, HVAC, public spaces, and office spaces. More specifically, the rink study looked at the ice rink and refrigeration systems, the mechanical systems, the electrical systems, the architecture/design and how the facility is used, the structural systems, parking walkways, and the building exterior. 

The three-sided rink was opened in 1969 with a fourth wall added in 1972. A lobby expansion was done in 1987.

Current challenges include an aging infrastructure, limited locker room space, limited community meeting space, inconvenient concessions location, and changing community needs. The approach to the facility in recent years has been to repair and replace rather than improve. A PowerPoint with lots of visuals highlighted the challenges.

The PowerPoint also highlighted the recommendations, including a two-page list of Repair and Replace and Aesthetic or Optional upgrades. Those were prioritized by code requirements, safety-related items, facility management improvements, operational efficiencies, and aesthetic and optional upgrades. The rink floor has been well-maintained but is slated for a complete renovation at a cost of $650,000 within the next 10 years.

The repair and replace list totaled $1,308,000; the aesthetic/optional upgrades ranged from a little over $2 million to $2.8 million.

Current annual expenses for the rink are $921,369, with revenue of $552,850. 

The committee asked a number of clarifying questions, and then wondered what a total replacement of the building would cost. An estimate of $4 million was suggested.

This analysis is timely for a number of reasons. First, the facility is now 50 years old, and some components are nearing the end of their useful life. Second, the information will be useful for the new long-range collaborative planning process now underway with the city, the schools, and the library. One goal of that is to plan as a community for long-term facility needs.  

The Recreation Committee will not meet in February.

There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.

Jan Devereaux

City Planning Commission /Board of Zoning Appeals, February 2019

February 11th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 5, 2019

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Rob Zimmerman, councilman; citizen members John Boyle, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, Joanna Ganning

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; William Gruber, director of law

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. He asked that approval of the January minutes be delayed until the end of the meeting to accommodate Mr. Zimmerman (who arrived at 7:15).

The agenda and supporting documents for this meeting may be found here: (http://shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02052019-191?html=true).

Board of Zoning Appeals

TENDULKAR RESIDENCE — 18951 SOUTH WOODLAND ROAD

Supporting Documents:

(http://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/396?fileID=928).

Richard Cissell, Cissell Architecture and Design, on behalf of Rajani and Rahul Tendulkar, requested a rear-yard setback variance. The applicant proposes an infill addition to the southwest rear corner of the house. The addition is 33 feet 5 inches from the rear property line. Code requires a 40-foot rear-yard setback in the Single Family Residential zoning district. The addition, which creates a first-floor accessible bathroom for a possible in-law suite, is not outside the footprint of the house. A well-established tall hedge separates the rear yard from the neighbor’s yard. There were no public comments. Staff supported the variance; it was approved unanimously.

Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission

LEE ROAD LEARNING CENTER — 3663 LEE ROAD

Supporting Documents:

(http://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/397?fileID=927).

This case was a continuation (December and then January meetings) so the applicant, Donqualla Hale-Peterson, Lee Road Learning Center, a child daycare center in the Commercial zoning district, could address state regulations, parking, and playground issues for a conditional use permit and parking variance. Bonnie Smith, Smith Architects LLC, presented revised plans and signed shared-parking statements, among other documents, from the two businesses in the adjacent building at 3657 and 3659 Lee Road. The trash dumpster was removed to create additional parking. Code requires 16 on-site parking spaces for the three businesses, but there are only 15, including the shared spaces. There was no public comment. Staff supported the permit and variance. Both were approved unanimously, with the following conditions: No employee parking on site; daycare operation Monday through Friday only; playground operation from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. only, within temporary barricades at least 3 feet tall, and Astroturf or comparable covering for the asphalt; and storage space inside for the temporary barriers. The conditional use permit and parking variance were approved unanimously.

CITY OF SHAKER HEIGHTS — UNIVERSITY BOULEVARD NW MEDIAN

Supporting Documents:

(http://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/398?fileID=929).

This hearing, at the request of the City of Shaker Heights, was for a re-subdivision of land in order to dedicate the University Boulevard Northwest median parcel into right-of-way. A small portion of this section of the University Boulevard median (the portion northwest of Fairmount Circle) is in Shaker Heights; the remainder of the median is in University Heights. University Heights approved dedication of their portion of the median into right-of way in January. The additional right-of-way will create a consistent median of right-of-way in both jurisdictions. The city-owned median consists of parcel 733-04-004. There were no public comments. The re-subdivision was approved unanimously.

The minutes of the last meeting were approved at 7:30 p.m.

The mayor adjourned the meeting at 7:35 p.m.

Barbara Bradley

City Council, January 2019

January 31st, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Jan. 28, 2019

Present: Mayor David Weiss; Council members Sean Malone, Rob Zimmerman, Tres Roeder, Juliana Johnston Senturia, Anne Williams, Nancy Moore, Earl Williams
Also present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin; Law Director William M. Ondrey Gruber; Finance Director Robert H. Baker; President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes Kay Carlson

The mayor called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

The minutes of the Dec. 17, 2018, meeting were approved with corrections made by Mr. Zimmerman and Ms. Moore.

Ten out of 13 items on the agenda were passed declaring an emergency.

Items on the agenda unanimously approved:

  • Increasing the members of the Tree Advisory Board from three to four by appointing Walter E. Auch III
  • 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, and declaring an emergency to meet the application deadline of Feb. 1, 2019. This grant requires no matching funds.
  • Approving improvements to public land (the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes on South Park Boulevard) as recommended by the City Planning Commission. The Nature Center proposes to reconstruct the All People’s Trail in essentially the same layout, including the wooden boardwalk trail structure, a trailhead feature, a pergola, and a gazebo. The Architectural Board of Review approved the design of the structures at its Dec. 17, 2018, meeting. Declared to be an emergency so that the project can proceed with design, bidding, and construction
  • Accepting the approval of the City Planning Commission and confirmation of the granting of a Conditional Use Permit for a specialized instructional school at Master Marr’s Taekwon-do, 16720 Chagrin Blvd.
  • Authorizing an amendment to the city’s contract with Weber Murphy Fox for Phase 1 of the City Hall Space Study and Plan to modify the cost for services in a not-to-exceed amount of $3,750, which will bring the total contract amount to $35,030. Declared to be an emergency to meet the project timeline.
  • Authorizing a contract with Planning NEXT in the total not-to-exceed amount of $52,780 for professional personal services to serve as facilitator for the Coordinated Facilities Vision Plan Phase 1. Proposals were evaluated based on project understanding and approach, experience, past work, and price. Declared to be an emergency to meet the project timeline.
  • Authorizing the application for and acceptance of a grant from the Ohio History Connection Certified Local Government (CLG) Grant Program in the estimated amount of $19,700 for rehabilitation improvements to Shaker Heights City Hall, 3400 Lee Road. The project consultant, Weber Murphy Fox, estimates none of the proposed work can be fully implemented with the allocated budget of $450,000 for the project, and a CLG grant would help to close the gap. Declared to be an emergency to meet the grant application deadline of Feb. 11.
  • Authorizing the application for and acceptance of a grant from the Ohio History Connection Certified Local Government (CLG) Grant Program in the estimated amount of $16,000 for further rehabilitation improvements to the residence at 18520 Winslow Road, which, since its abandonment in 2014, deteriorated significantly and required extensive work. The grant would help fund the building of a new detached garage and the restoration of the driveway. Declared to be an emergency to meet the grant application deadline of Feb. 11.
  • Authorizing a contract with the nonprofit agency Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP) for the provision of senior financial and housing counseling and education personal services from Feb. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2019. The contract will not exceed $25,000. Declaring an emergency to allow services to begin in February.
  • Authorizing the execution of a property schedule pursuant to an existing master tax-exempt lease/purchase agreement between U.S. Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance, Inc. and the city, providing for the lease and acquisition of a fire truck for the Fire Department that is “a critical component of providing fire safety service to the City.” Declared to be an emergency for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, and welfare of the city, and to enable the City to capture a significant prepayment discount on the purchase price.
  • Establishing an agency fund that provides full-time city employees with the opportunity to participate in a flexible spending account (FSA), administered by Medical Mutual of Ohio (MMO), called FlexSave. To pay the Flexsave payments and service fees, it is necessary to create a new agency fund. Declared as an emergency to enable the city to establish the Flexsave Fund by Feb. 1, 2019.
  • Amending the appropriations ordinance to make appropriations for the current expenses and other expenditures of the city for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019. Appropriating $35,186 in contributions from the Shaker Schools and Shaker Library for the costs of the Coordinated Facilities Master Plan Phase 1 Visioning, and $4,721 of forfeited funds from employees’ unused flexible spending accounts to be used for employee wellness. eclared an emergency because these changes took effect Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Authorizing a liquor permit for Organic Trails Cafes dba Brassica, 20301 Meade Road.

Ryan Brady