Observer Reports

Finance Committee, Aug. 19, 2019

September 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

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

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Acting Interim Director of Finance Frank Brichacek, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman, Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis, Auditor Chad Gorfido from Rea & Associates CPAs.

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:32 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the June 17, 2019 (corrected), and July 15, 2019, Finance Committee meetings for approval. The minutes from both meetings were approved without comment.
  2. Ms. Braverman presented a recommendation to authorize entering into a contract with RMS Investments for $44,559 for an additional year of the Clean and Safe Program for the Van Aken District (VAD). The funds are available in the Economic Development budget to pay the city’s share of the program cost.

Anthony Moore asked what the impact would be of University Hospitals Health Systems not participating in the next contract. Ms. Braverman replied that the contract presented to City Council would be adjusted to account for UHHS withdrawal. Mr. Malone asked if Rite Aid was a participant. Ms. Braverman replied that Rite Aid was not a participant, but the sidewalks throughout VAD are patrolled to remove trash and control panhandling. Mr. Malone said that at the Lee Road Corridor merchants meeting last week, participants inquired if the city would establish something similar for that district. Ms. Braverman replied that something similar for Lee Road was being investigated for feasibility in 2020. Ms. Lalley remarked that the program was excellent, the cleanliness and presence of security was very effective. Mr. Williams added that panhandling seems to be the dominant issue regarding security, perhaps due to the confluence of bus and train stops, and he was appreciative of the program. Mr. Kolb remarked that his children were visiting recently from out of state and raved about VAD cleanliness and safety. The recommendation was approved.

  • Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis presented a recommendation to approve an application from Sharee and Douglass Thornton, 3639 Avalon Road, in acquiring the city-owned vacant lot at 3643 Avalon Road in order to use it as a side lot. The city would save $650 per year for upkeep and increase the value of the Thornton’s property by approximately $20,000. The Neighborhood Revitalization & Development (NRD) Committee considered the application at their Aug. 14 meeting and unanimously approved recommending it to Council. The recommendation was approved.
  • Mr. Braverman presented a review of the Shaker Heights Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC) annual meeting on July 23, 2019. The TIRC is charged with reviewing current tax incentive agreements on an annual basis and ensuring transparency and accountability on the part of the city and developer in the management of each of the agreements. The meeting and activities of this state-mandated body are controlled by the Ohio Revised Code and City Ordinance. Ms. Braverman recommended that the Finance and Administration Committee approve a recommendation to City Council to approve the TIRC’s recommendations.

Mr. Williams wished to confirm that the results would have no impact to income taxes. Ms. Braverman confirmed that. Ms. Lalley wanted to know what would happen to the businesses’ taxes if the tax incentives were not continued. Ms. Braverman said the businesses’ taxes would revert to regular taxation. Ms. Lalley asked the status of the Southern Moreland Community Reinvestment Area (CRA). Ms. Braverman said there were no activities in this CRA during the past year. Mr. Malone asked if urban renewal payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) were performing better than in the past years. Ms. Braverman said yes, and that the city was providing less tax abatement than in the past. The recommendation was approved.

  • Auditor Chad Gorfido, from Rea & Associates CPAs, presented the Independent Auditor’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting, Report on Compliance and Other Matters Based on an Audit of Financial Statements Performed in Accordance with Government Auditing Standards, Report on Compliance for Each Major Federal Program, Report on Internal Control over Compliance, and Report on the Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards Required by the Uniform Guidance. The independent audit found that the city had no material weaknesses in internal control and no significant deficiencies in internal control, and said there were no reportable findings. Mr. Gorfido remarked that Shaker Heights was one of the few municipalities that did not receive a “concerns” letter from Rea & Associates management, which is a compliment to the city’s clean accounting.

Ms. Lalley asked if there were any pronouncements that the city should prepare for. Mr. Gorfido replied that in about two-three years, all leases will be required to be reported, both operating leases and capital leases. Ms. Lalley continued by asking if any of these future changes might be an issue for the city. Mr. Gorfido answered that he was not aware of any that would affect the city.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:15 am.

Frank Goforth

Board of Education, Aug. 16, 2019

September 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members Bill Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Hardaway and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner, and Treasurer Bryan Christman

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Isaacs at 6 p.m. Find the agenda here.

The board approved the minutes of the meetings held in July. Public comments included an address to the school board from high school teacher Jody Podl and support for Ms. Podl by Craig Martahus; a thank you to the board for his education from 2019 graduate Christos Ioannou; a request from Sara Schiavoni to access raw data from the strategic metrics; a review of protocol in moving forward from a Woodbury 6th-grade camp incident from Brooke Bribiesco; and comments from Vicki Elder on policy work.

Dr. Glasner recognized the following:

  • Shaker Athletics: HS varsity boys soccer team was the Gold Division champs at the Adidas National Soccer Showcase in Strongsville last mouth. The Raider cheerleaders received multiple team and individual awards at an AmeriCheer camp last month. Ezra Dykema, sophomore, competed at the AAU Diving National Championships last month and placed in the top 10 in three categories. Varsity Football Coach Alex Nicholson planned a fundraiser for the team with the first Shaker Heights Raider Football Legacy Night, which raised $2,000 and engaged alumni players and families.
  • Twenty-two of the incoming freshmen completed the five-week Summer Academy, which helps students prepare for transition to the high school by offering academic support and enrichment opportunities.
  • Seven Shaker Heights High School students and Latin/Greek teacher Nora Murphy traveled to the 2019 National Junior Classical League Convention.
  • The 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame class comprises eight men and women who have made significant contributions to the field of health, law, government, arts, and athletics. The class will be introduced at an assembly on Oct. 11 and honored at a dinner and induction ceremony on Oct. 12. See www.shaker.org for more details.
  • Woodbury School’s new makerspace will be ready for students this school year thanks to funds from the Shaker Schools Foundation’s Innovation Fund. The space will contain small robotics and circuitry sets that can be checked out to classrooms, and students can use the space during lunchtime, recess, and after school.
  • The high school hosted a presentation by Positive Engagement Encouraging Resiliency in Shaker Students (PEERS) participants. Eleven PEERS students participating in a six-week summer program researched and answered questions over mental health and school-related stressors.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Grosse gave an update on facilities, capital projects, and Fernway construction: Masonry restoration, including waterproofing and other foundation work, will be completed by Aug. 21 at Boulevard, Lomond, Mercer, Woodbury, and the Middle School; Updates to fire alarm and security systems will be completed by Aug. 16; the High School north parking lot will be resurfaced and done by Aug.19; roof repairs at Lomond will be finished by the start of school and repairs to the high school roof will be worked on after school hours. Mr. Grosse thanked all the custodial and maintenance crews for getting the school buildings ready for opening. At Fernway, demolition on the south elevation and masonry walls continues and footers for the new addition will be coming in now on the cleared land. Interior walls for the auditorium were beginning to be built.

Director of Student Data and Accountability, Dr. Chris Rateno, and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Marla Robinson, updated the board on 2019 Strategic Plan Metrics, which led to a more in-depth discussion with questions from board members. Dr. Rateno gave the highlights of the Strategic Plan Metric report, which reviews multiple milestone events over multiple years. Reading trends have improved in third grade, with an 80 percent passage rate. However, Ms. Hardaway said that even though the math test scores achievement gap has closed somewhat, the gap in sixth-grade test scores show that only 29 percent  of black students are proficient – which is unacceptable.

Discipline data from the Progress Book was reviewed: The number of suspensions in some schools increased in the 2018-19 school year, possibly due to the increased influence of social media with even younger students, unique situations from the school year, and the need for more social and emotional support for some students. Action steps to take so students feel safe to maximize learning: implementation of Caring School Communities in pre-K – eighth grade; use a multi-tiered system of supports with positive intervention; add a school counselor at Woodbury; and do ongoing monitoring of student discipline data. The district is looking at what strategies are working in some of the buildings to cull best practices and possibly using professional learning for staff to effectively input discipline incidents to the Progress Book. Strategic planning has led to new curriculum with a whole-child approach, with more focus on the social and emotional needs of students and on learning about and reacting to institutional barriers to achievement. There is also more recognition of how outside traumas to families affect the educational success of students – including the availability of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) assessment and other learning tools. 

All personnel updates and changes were approved. 

The following business items were approved: change order with Dial Electric for HS life safety & IT room renovation; resolution to accept the agreement for the leasing and serving of copier equipment with Meritech, Inc. (lower cost option); school bus stops for the 2019-20 school year in accordance with the Ohio Administrative Code (note the availability of a new bus GPS app for parents to be able to see where their student’s bus is); resolution to initiate the sale of certain board property to clear out unused or outdated items in the warehouse using an online auction to the community—the auction will span Sept. 1-11 with pick up on Sept. 13.

The board approved the combining of two part-time security positions to create one full-time position within OAPSE Local 152.

The board approved the language of Mr. Christman’s five-year employment contract through July 31, 2024.

The treasurer’s report for June: Real estate tax revenue received YTD this year was $6.8 million, or 9.3 percent less than last year due primarily to a timing difference in advance amounts paid out by the county in early 2018 (because of accelerated tax payments in advance of the Jan. 1, 2018, federal income tax law changes limiting state and local tax deductions). The reduced collections include $433,058 less in delinquent tax collections during the first half of 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018. Also included in the YTD tax receipts was the first Shaker Plaza TIF payment, totaling $386,036. Investment earnings are $0.4 million or 45.2% more than last fiscal year-to-date. Other local revenues are $1.7 million, or 47.5 percent less than the prior year, due primarily to the non-recurring receipt last fiscal year of the $1.8 million reimbursement for the Middle School roof project from the bond issuance fund. The district received approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2019 as in Fiscal 2018 due to being on the “guarantee” funding method. There is a $350,000 favorable budget variance of revenues vs. expenditures.

Additional comments by Mr. Christman included: 97.2 percent of the district’s funding is raised locally via taxes; state and federal funding is minimal. The state’s budget included new student wraparound services funded at $675 million to be distributed among 600 school districts; but it also included a decline in state grants and changes to and educational choice funding.

Dr. Glasner reported the following: he attended and addressed the IB Global Conference in New Orleans; the nation of South Korea has signed an MOU with IB to commit to the IB framework – due to their visitors’ positive experience in the district; IB has eliminated its $172 candidate fees, which speaks to the equity of the IB program; he attended the Buckeye Association of School Administrators New Superintendents conference in Columbus and a meeting with the First Ring Suburbs consortium, where he will serve on the advocacy committee. He also reported that the Superintendent’s Transition Team will hold its second meeting Aug. 27 and will have an update for the September board meeting. He also highlighted the appointment of George Clark, formerly an assistant principal at the high school as interim principal at Lomond, and Tiffany Joseph as a new assistant at the high school.

The board remarked on the successful back-to-school barbeque. The next school board meeting will be held on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. in the high school small auditorium.

The board adjourned the public session at 8:35 p.m.

Holly Wang

Library Board of Trustees, Aug. 19, 2019

September 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board members Bertsch, Gleisser, Katz, Meinhard, Rashid; Library Director Switzer and other library staff. Also representatives of Bialosky architects. No other community members were present.

The meeting was called to order at 6:36 p.m. and minutes of previous meetings approved.

The financial statement was presented and approved. Expenditures are slightly below budget, year to date, and revenues are slightly above estimates. New software has been installed to track finances and the switch to the new system is nearly complete.

Ms. Switzer reported that Recovery Resources will be offering confidential HIV testing at the library, and there was some discussion among board members about measures to ensure no liability for the library in such matters. She also noted that the Contractor at Risk contract has been signed and the facility assessment (part of the renovation project) has preliminary results. Areas for additional evaluation have been identified and will be carried out with no additional cost (this had been anticipated in the original assessment section of the contract). Sprint, which has a cellular service tower and related equipment at Main, has some responsibility for chimney and water incursion damage and has been cooperative in initial interactions. Needs for and avenues available for communication with the mayor and city officials were discussed.

Bialosky representatives presented, briefly, the results of outreach measures about the renovation project. Nearly 900 survey responses were received and over 180 people attended open house sessions. One result that caused mild surprise is that around 40% of respondents said they sometimes walked to the library – a figure that was higher than expected. Further sessions will be held at the high school and middle school. Ms. Katz expressed the belief that involvement of board members would be desirable and there was discussion about useful formats for feedback from the public and also from public bodies.

In further business, the board approved library policy revisions concerning recording in the library and staff leaves of absence. They also approved a new fine-free circulation policy and one for clearing existing fines. Second quarter library usage data was presented (little change) and gifts accepted and allocated. After recounting some personnel changes, the board went into executive session at 8:25 pm.

Sustainability Committee, July 11, 2019

August 20th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The agenda for the meeting is available here: https://shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07112019-292?html=true

The audio for the meeting is available here: https://shakeronline.com/DocumentCenter/View/2161/Sus071119

Members Present: Council member and chair Julianna Johnston Senturia; Council members Sean Malone and Anne Williams; citizen members Julianne Potter, Carmen Franks, and Norman Robbins

Others present: Mayor David Weiss; Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin; Sustainability Coordinator Michael Peters; Daniel Brown and Zoe Apestar of Rust Belt Riders

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:31 a.m. and adjourned at 8:28 a.m.

The minutes of the June 13, 2019, committee meeting were approved and are available here: https://shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_06132019-279

Rust Belt Riders: Two representatives of Rust Belt Riders (RBR), Daniel Brown and Zoe Apestar, spoke about their program and the potential for a partnership with the city. Rust Belt Riders is a composting program that provides composting service to around 150 companies in Northeast Ohio. They are thinking about launching a residential program to regularly collect residents’ compost (but also has drop-off locations), which is then transformed into soil that one can buy at a discounted price. At the Nature Center, RBR put out bins where residents could drop off their compost, and 35 people had used it in the past month. Mr. Peters explained that commercial composting can take products that residents cannot compost on their own. If RBR partnered with the city, residents would receive buckets to put their compost in, and the buckets are picked up and replaced once a week at the expected cost of $20/month. It will cost likely $5 for residents to use the drop-off locations. It is also possible that the city would subsidize the program if it is shown to reduce the amount of waste the city would otherwise have to handle.

Subcommittees: Mr. Peters expressed his desire for the subcommittees to regularly report on their matters. Most subcommittees had not met yet. The Renewable Energy committee, led by Norman Robbins, discussed with the school system their interest in the country’s solar panel program. The school system explained that they have a lot on their plate this year, and may not focus on solar panels.

Streetlights: Mr. Peters explained that over 60[MG1]  percent of the city’s energy is used in streetlights, and that a vendor could collect data on this energy usage. In order to decrease energy usage, cities like Lakewood are retrofitting their streetlights with LED lights, while others are updating the entire fixture to provide capabilities like dimming, motion sensors, cameras, and gun-shot detection. The payback period for replacing the bulb would be two years.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles: Mr. Peters introduced an idle management option for city vehicles, the payback period for police vehicles being four months; he also mentioned a potential study to determine which vehicles would be easily replaced with electric vehicles. The city’s Green Team was formed (first meeting, July 14).

Solar Power: Mr. Peters explained that applications were prepared for the initial analysis of two city-owned buildings to determine their suitability for the County’s Local Government and Non-Profit Solar Co-op Program.

LEED for Cities: Data collection for the LEED program is ongoing, mainly because the city is waiting on other companies for data. Seven city staff members will form the LEED Advisory Team to advise the city on which areas of sustainability it should focus most on. After the U.S. Green Building Council’s ARC platform updated the point system for smaller cities, Shaker Heights gained 16 additional points (towards the goal of 40).

Ryan Brady, observer


 [MG1]

Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission, July 2, 2019

August 20th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members present: Rob Zimmerman, City Council; committee members John Boyle, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, Joanna Ganning

Others present: Joyce Braverman, Director of Planning; Dan Feinstein, Senior Planner; William Gruber, Director of Law

Mr. Zimmerman called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. The agenda for this meeting and supporting documents may be found here.

The minutes of the June 4, 2019, meeting were approved.

BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

Gagliano/Slater Residence – 3161 Huntington Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Homeowners Keith Slater and Gregory Gagliano requested a variance to replace an existing wood picket fence with an aluminum ornamental fence on this corner lot, all 5 feet tall. The existing fence was granted a variance in 1992 to the 3-foot height standard, with one section at 4 feet and one at 5 feet. The owners cited need for a higher fence for uniformity of height, noting that all the fencing will continue to be hidden by current shrubbery. There were no public comments. The variance was unanimously approved.

Dewey Residence – 18301 South Woodland Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Homeowner Christopher Dewey requested a variance to install a 4-foot fence 16 feet in front of the house and 53 feet off the South Woodland Road sidewalk. Code requires that fences be no more than 3 feet high and those located in corner side yards not extend in front of the setback line of the principal building on the adjacent lot, in this case 70 feet 3 inches. The owners stated that the fence would connect to an existing fence on the side property line, was needed to enclose an existing gazebo, and would be screened with existing and new shrubbery. There were no public comments. The variance was approved unanimously.

Tapas Restaurant/Lounge/Bar – 16704 Chagrin Blvd.

Supporting documents may be found here.

Kenneth Gibson, operator of the business, requested a variance to the parking requirements. The staff recommends a continuance because of other issues with the planned building and business: the floor plan doesn’t match the partially constructed space; the seating number does not match the plans; there is no information on peak parking demands; a Conditional Use Permit for a wine bar hasn’t been applied for. Mr. Gibson stated that he had received a building permit in January and understood that he ha filed all the paperwork required for a Conditional Use Permit after meeting with Mr. Feinstein. He said a lot of time has been wasted while the issues are getting straightened out, wondering if things could be expedited. Mr. Feinstein responded that there had been confusion over the Conditional Use and Building permit applications, and the Building permit shouldn’t have been issued.  However, the process needed to be properly followed now.

There were no public comments.

Ms. Ganning noted that more information was required on parking use, and Mr. Gibson shared that information. Mr. Boyle asked if a liquor permit had been obtained, and Mr. Gibson replied that it had. Mr. Boyle asked for an explanation in the changes in the floor plans and seat count, which Mr. Gibson provided. Mr. Boyle noted that there would seem to be no problem with the parking variance, however the Conditional Use permit application would be needed to do that. Mr. Feinstein added that the staff wants to have both done at once. Ms. Ganning wondered if the city should seek comments from other businesses in the area. 

There will be a continuance on the appeal.

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

Cleveland Skating Club – 2500 Kemper Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Matthew Wymer, WXZ Development Inc., representing the Cleveland Skating Club, requested re-subdivision of the Club’s land in order to create a parcel fronting on Fairhill Road that meets the minimum size and frontage required in the A Apartment zoning district. Mr. Wymer and Mr. Young of WXZ explained that the plan is to create nine units of apartments for older Shaker residents.

In public comments, Bob Zimmer, Shaker resident and Keller Williams real estate agent, said that this is an important project to give seniors an option to downsize into a Shaker Heights property for easier living.

The request was unanimously approved.

Process Canine Training Center – 3700 Lee Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Amanda Corr, business owner, requested a Conditional Use Permit to operate a dog training center at an indoor space at the former Quality Security Door property. The applicant proposes to train dogs in the interior space only and utilize the existing parking at their nearby dog day-care business. One to three staff will train dogs inside the space, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The dogs in training will already be enrolled in the dog day-care facility.

Ms. Carr said that the day-care business had seen much success since opening two years ago, and that there is interest in training. She confirmed that only training will be offered at this site. She also confirmed that they had held an open house for the neighborhood to become acquainted with the business and upcoming proposal; it was lightly attended. She also said they had received their first noise and nuisance complaint the day of this hearing. It was reported that there is much barking very early in the morning and there is debris in the back of the business’s lot adjoining a homeowner’s backyard. She reported they are changing morning procedures immediately. She is looking into the nuisance complaint since she is not the business property owner. Mr. Feinstein added that he had checked with the SHPD and confirmed that these were the first complaints against the business.

In public comment, Donald Degley, 3717 Sudbury, said he lives in the house that backs on Process Canine. He explained that while he had visited his parents at this home often, he had recently been there more often because the home was left to him by his mother. He wanted to familiarize himself with the approval process and shared that he was the person who made the complaint to the SHPD. He asked what kind of training would be provided. Ms. Corr responded that it would not be behavior modification for “bad” dogs, just basic obedience. Mr. Degley asked who will be responsible for the parking lot. Ms. Corr replied that the building owner would be, but that the lease is not finalized. Mr. Degley asked why did they choose this property and not an empty space closer to their original facility. More space, was Ms. Corr’s response.

The Conditional Use Permit was unanimously approved. It now goes to City Council for its approval.

Lynn Lilly, observer

Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission, Aug. 7, 2019

August 19th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Rob Zimmerman, council member; John J. Boyle, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning, citizen members

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; Lisa Gold-Scott, assistant director of law department, housing attorney

The agenda for this meeting may be found here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_08072019-302

The meeting was recorded and the audio is available here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/DocumentCenter/View/2224/2019-0807-BZACPC-Recording

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.

The minutes of the July 2, 2019, meeting were approved unanimously (Mayor Weiss abstained since he was not present), with typographical corrections only, and are available here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1282?fileID=3097

Board of Zoning Appeals

Faltisco Residence, 18524 Lomond Boulevard:

Public hearing on the request of Sally Levine, architect, representing Daniel and Anne Marie Faltisco, 18524 Lomond Boulevard, for a variance to the garage regulations in order to construct a new detached one car garage located in the rear yard. Code allows only one garage structure per lot, located in the rear yard. The existing attached rear facing one car garage is proposed to remain, creating two garage spaces on the property. Tatyana Tate spoke for the architect on behalf of the applicant, proposing the design for a one-car detached garage located at the end of the driveway facing the street.

Staff supported the request, and the Architectural Board of Review approved the garage design. There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. Citing multiple precedents, the board voted unanimously to approve the variance.

Supporting documents are here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1285?fileID=3096

City Planning Commission

Hathaway Brown School, 19600 North Park Boulevard:

Public meeting on the request of Craig Cawrse, CT Consultants, representing Hathaway Brown School, 19600 North Park Boulevard, for review of on-street parking design and location. The applicant proposes to create a new on-street parking area located on the south leg of the North Park Boulevard/Sherbrooke Road triangle. The new parking area is proposed on both sides of the street within the street right-of-way and includes a total of 53 head-in parking spaces, landscaping, sidewalks, and a crosswalk. Several alternate parking layouts and locations are also outlined in the applicant’s proposal. The Board of Zoning Appeals approved variances to the parking lot location requirements for parking on the school property at the May 7, 2019 meeting. Changes to the public right-of-way are unusual and require presentation before the City Planning Commission. The commission will thus review this on-street parking space proposal in an advisory role to City Council.

In his opening remarks, Mayor Weiss announced that no consideration or formal action would be taken concerning the application at this meeting or at the next city council meeting. Instead, the goal for this evening was to provide a forum and an opportunity for both applicant and residents to present their views in a respectful and civil discourse. The mayor also commented that the involvement of both residents and the school administration is in keeping with the active and engaged public for which Shaker is well known. The public comments from residents, both in conversations and through email and other letters, has been extensive. A special meeting is planned for a later date to reconsider the application, giving the school an opportunity to revise its plans, or not, after reviewing public comments and suggestions.

Mary Frances Bisselle, head of school, presented Hathaway Brown’s master plan (which includes the parking changes) and stated it continues to evolve. Mr. Zimmerman thanked all for being at the meeting and reiterated that no action would be taken tonight. Residents then took the Board of Zoning Appeals to task for approving parking variances at the May meeting with so little input from the community. Thirteen residents/neighbors then spoke against the proposed changes. Compliments, as well as complaints, continued throughout the discussion. Mr. Zimmerman then stated he looks forward to a comprehensive review of the plan and collaborative solution to the problems presented. He also noted that the board clearly heard the comments about perceived lack of notice about the meetings and that, while it will continue to follow its rules about such notifications, it will take each situation into consideration in the future.

Supporting documents are here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1286?fileID=3098

Supplemental correspondence is here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1286?fileID=3109

The next meeting is Sept. 3, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 pm.

Barbara Bradley

Sustainability Committee, June 13, 2019

August 16th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The agenda for the meeting is available here: http://shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06132019-279

The audio for the meeting is available here: http://www.shakeronline.com/DocumentCenter/View/2051/Sus061319

Members Present: Council member and chair Julianna Johnston Senturia; Council members Sean Malone and Anne Williams; citizen members Julianne Potter and Norman Robbins

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Sustainability Coordinator Michael Peters

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:31 a.m. and adjourned at 8:41 a.m.

The minutes of the May 9, 2019, meeting were approved and are available here: http://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1110?fileID=2953

Daniel Brown, scheduled on the agenda to give a brief presentation on the Shaker Heights Residential Composting Program, was absent, and the presentation was postponed to a later date.

LEED for Cities: Mr. Peters updated the committee on a conference he attended in Washington, D.C., regarding the LEED for Cities program that Shaker Heights is pursuing. At the conference, attendees were given information on what data the city must provide and the processes of doing so. Mr. Peters mentioned that the LEED for Cities program is still new for the U.S. Green Building Council, and that the administrators are open to making changes and accommodations for Shaker Heights, as we are a smaller city. Mr. Peters was also offered marketing support and was connected to the Ohio representative of the U.S. Green Building Council. Mr. Peters explained that in order for Shaker Heights to reach the base level of certification in the LEED program, the city must collect specific data. However, as a small city, we do not control utilities like water, sewers, and energy, but the private organizations that do have been cooperative and helpful in providing the necessary data. He explained that in regard to collecting city data, vendors will need one year of utility bills, and that he is working with First Energy to ensure that its records match the city’s. Mr. Peters explained that students and other volunteers will help collect data necessary for the LEED project. After Shaker passes the LEED certification level, the committee may focus on changing city procedures, policies, and legislation regarding sustainability, where necessary, in order to achieve the next level of certification.

Sustainability Roadmap: Mr. Peters then led a discussion on the city’s Sustainability Roadmap, which can be accessed here: http://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1112?fileID=2954. The Roadmap provides specific sustainability goals and metrics to determine when they are accomplished. The objectives outlined in the Roadmap are as follows: 1. Reduce City Costs for Electric, Natural Gas, Water, Sewer, 2. Increase efficiency and reduce costs (Energy Conservation Measures for City Buildings), 3. Reduce fuel consumption for cost and greenhouse gas savings, reduce vehicle maintenance costs, 4. City staff involvement, buy-in, and attraction, and retention, 5. Solar demonstration project (Solar Power Generation on City-Owned Vacant Lots), 6. Respond to opportunities outside initial scope (Other Green Initiatives), and 7. Provide staff support to the Sustainability Committee and city Green Team.

Mr. Malone expressed concern about the feasibility of objectives numbers 1 and 2 (reducing city costs and energy conservation measures for city buildings). He questioned if the objectives are doable in the first year. Mr. Peters stated that the committee has already made good progress, that the city will have to engage a vendor to analyze the city’s energy use for the first objective, and that it is certainly achievable to be on the path to completing the objectives if not completing them within the first year.

Alternative City Vehicles: Ms. Senturia brought up the feasibility of city vehicles using electric fuel. Peters mentioned a survey regarding green vehicles sent out to city employees. He explained that the survey demonstrated that there is a real interest within the city of increasing the use of electric and hybrid vehicles, and that from here, there are two things: 1. Receiving a quote from a vendor that would input a device in vehicles representative of city use to determine how cars are used, along with what vehicles could be replaced with environmentally friendly options, and 2. The Ohio EPA grant for diesel replacement would help Shaker repower older diesel vehicles or replace motors to be more efficient, or replace diesel vehicles with new alternatives. Ms. Potter mentioned her involvement with a project regarding Green Fleet procurement and feasibility, and how Fleet users can be incentivized to choose energy alternative vehicles. She stated that she will have more information on the project closer to the end of summer.

Missions, Visions, & Objectives: The committee shared a document that detailed the Sustainability Committee’s missions, visions, and objectives. Ms. Senturia began a discussion on the document. Ms. Potter expressed concern that many of the priorities outlined in the document that were carried forward from the previous task force are climate and environmentally focused, while sustainability also encompasses social and economic issues, and that the committee should also potentially focus on social issues. Furthermore, because it is difficult for a single resident or a single city to make an extensive impact in sustainability, the committee should significantly emphasize collaboration. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals were published in 2015 and end in 2030; they incorporate the social aspect that Ms. Potter is concerned is absent from Shaker’s goals. Ms. Potter also explained that the Sustainability Development Goals are not necessarily targeted at relatively affluent and developed cities like Shaker, but rather more towards developing countries, and for that reason, the goals may not align perfectly. However, there are already other cities that have outlined criteria to allow them to align with the goals, and there already exists target indicators for public transit, affordable housing, etc. And the UN has already laid out what a sustainable city should look like. Basically, Ms. Potter expressed concern for Shaker’s lack of sustainable social goals, goals that the UN has included within its own guidelines. Regardless, while the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide a rough outline as to what Shaker can focus on, the specific aspects may not be very applicable to the city. Ms. Potter believes that the best practice would not be aligning to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but only to the ones that apply to the city and where it would make sense. She also explained that the Sustainable Development Goals have the added benefit of sounding very aspirational without the city actually having to sign onto anything.

Ms. Senturia mentioned that external indicators and global thinking in terms of sustainability allow Shaker’s sustainability goals to be easier to explain to residents and easier to market. Therefore, they can be used to attract and retain citizens.

Mr. Robbins asked for a specific example of a social goal that Shaker might need to focus on. Mr. Malone provided the examples of making Shaker more affordable (reducing the tax burden) and increasing access to resources like public parks. Ms. Potter added that the Sustainable Development Goals include disaster preparedness.

Ms. Potter said that the city should aim for transparency around the sustainability metrics and the progress Shaker makes on that front, and asked if the committee would publish a report. Ms. Senturia explained that at the end of the first year there will be at least a formal committee discussion regarding progress (the minutes would be public), but that there does not necessarily have to be a report.

Subcommittees: Ms. Senturia began a discussion about subcommittees and if it makes sense to create a few. The rest of the committee expressed interest in the following topics: storm water management, energy, and LEED for cities. Ms. Senturia confirmed that the storm water management (John Scott) and energy (Mr. Robbins) subcommittees have started and that Mr. Peters and Ms. Williams with continue to work on the LEED for cities project.

Ryan Brady, observer

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

Board of Education, July 16, 2019

August 16th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members William L. Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner, Treasurer Bryan Christman, Director of Operations Dave Boyer

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:01 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

  1. Dr. Glasner announced he was saddened to learn that High School Security Monitor Curtis C. Hughley, the father of Bus Driver Malcolm King, died early last month. Dr. Glasner then called on Ms. Tina McCauley, Assistant Principal at Lomond Elementary School, to share some brief remarks about the Summer Exploration Learning and Fun (SELF) program and to introduce the Nemo Project dance workshop student performance.
  2. Mr. Isaacs called for a vote on approval of the June 11, 2019, meeting minutes. The minutes were approved without comment.
  3. Mr. Isaacs next opened the meeting to public comment. Craig Martahus of Winthrop Road asked the board to apologize to SHHS English teacher Jody Podl for her treatment during the controversy regarding her dismissal, which was found, through arbitration, to be without just cause.
  4. Dr. Glasner acknowledged staff and students for special recognition and honors: SHHS is one of 12 public schools in Northeast Ohio to receive funding from the prestigious Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum to help students develop business ventures. Congratulations to SHHS Class of 2019 graduate and future Ohio State swimmer Chachi Gustafson, who was named an All-American by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association for the second year in a row. Raider field hockey player Lora Clarke, whose team earned a bronze medal at the USA Field Hockey Futures Championships in Lancaster, Pa., was also selected to play in the USA Futures Stars and Stripes All Star Game. Middle School Head Security Monitor Linda Thompson-Williams appeared on the Season 9 premiere of BET’s inspirational singing competition, “Sunday Best,” and will move to the next round. Senior Bronwyn Warnock was named a Bank of America Student Leader. This signature philanthropic program offers young people an opportunity to build their workforce and leadership skills through a paid summer internship. Bronwyn and her four fellow Student Leaders from Cleveland are working this summer at the Cleveland Food Bank.More than 20 alumni Minority Achievement Committee (MAC) Scholars attended their first-ever reunion on June 15 to reconnect and network with former classmates. More than 20 alumni Minority Achievement Committee (MAC) Scholars attended their first-ever reunion on June 15 to reconnect and network with former classmates. Fifty-five SHHS students completed the summer Bridges program, which aims to increase the number of diverse students and student success in the High School’s AP and IB Diploma courses. The three-week program was made possible by grants from the Higley Fund and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation to the Shaker Schools Foundation. Artist James Quarles (SHHS ’05 grad and son of Middle School librarian Deb Quarles) was at Public Square installing a mural he created that honors African-American baseball greats Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson. The work, a public art piece, was commissioned by Major League Baseball for the All-Star Game.Chinese teacher Raina Li was named among the Notable Women in Education by Crain’s Cleveland Business. And special thanks to Middle School student Noah Rusnak, who shared a $5,000 donation collected at his Bar Mitzvah with the Shaker Schools Foundation to help build a new playground at Fernway, his former elementary school.
  5. Director of Operations Dave Boyer provided an update of facilities, capital projects, and Fernway School. The following projects will be complete for fall semester: Lomond and SHHS will have roof repairs; SHHS will have parking repaved; Lomond, Mercer, Onaway, Woodbury, and the Middle School fire and security systems will be updated; Fernway will have steel reinforcement and roof trusses set.
  6. Mr. Boyer next reviewed the results of insurance renewal negotiations. The new Liberty Mutual premium will be $43,415 less than the quote from the previous underwriter, with two major benefits: there will be no margin clause on property claims and the deductible for equipment claims was reduced from $25,000 to $10,000. Ms. Bell Hardaway asked if there were any expectations of future increases. Mr. Boyer responded that the contract will be renegotiated if the premium increases more than 10 percent within three years. Mr. Isaacs asked if all the property appraisals were complete. Mr. Boyer answered that they should be complete this week.
  7. Dr. Glasner recognized new appointments within Shaker Schools. Mr. Jeffrey A. Grosse will be the new Chief Operating Officer; he comes to Shaker from Berea City Schools. Dr. Erin Herbruck, a long-serving staff member, will serve as Director of Primary Education overseeing curriculum and instruction for Grades PreK-4. Ms. Micki Krantz will be Director of Secondary Education overseeing Grades 5-12. Ms. Krantz most recently served as the Director of Instruction at Canton City Schools.
  8. Mr. Isaacs asked the board for approval of all personnel actions and reports. All were approved.
  9. Dr. Glasner presented a recommendation to approve the change order with Dial Electric for the High School Life Safety & IT Room Renovation Project to remove or cut existing tiles containing asbestos materials so that fire alarm equipment can be installed. Air monitoring is included while work is being done and reports provided when work is completed. The cost is $72,067. The recommendation was approved.
  10. Dr. Glasner presented a recommendation to approve the resolution to accept the bid for the purchase of two Thomas-brand school buses from Myers Equipment Corp. for $193,618. Ms. Bell Hardaway asked what happens to retired buses. Mr. Boyer replied they might be used as trade-in or otherwise auctioned. Mr. Isaacs asked if the district had considered alternative energy buses. Mr. Boyer answered that propane and electric buses had been considered previously, but they were too expensive; however, the technologies are developing rapidly and they will be considered regularly as buses are retired. Mr. Clawson asked if seat belts had been evaluated for buses. Mr. Boyer replied that only high padded seats were legislated, but that might change; however, seat belts are considered in every purchase decision.
  11. Mr. Isaacs introduced five modified board policies for a third reading, requiring a board vote. There were no further questions regarding these policies and they were approved. The policies: BCC – Qualifications and Duties of the Treasurer, JGD – Student Suspension, JED – Student Absences and Excuses, JHG – Reporting Child Abuse and Mandatory Training, and JEE – Student Attendance Accounting (Missing and Absent Children).
  12. Mr. Isaacs next presented a resolution authorizing adding Ulmer & Berne to its list of law firms/attorneys that may provide legal counsel to the board. The resolution was approved.
  13. Mr. Christman presented a recommendation to approve the Monthly Financial Report, consisting of the preliminary financial statements for the month and year-to-date ended June 30, 2019, and the Monthly Investment Report for the month ended June 30, 2019. Mr. Christman said that the statements indicated the Shaker Schools were running $109,000 favorable to the budget. He also said that Ohio legislators were still trying to reconcile the differences between the Ohio House and Senate budgets and were continuing to fund through budget extensions.
  14. Dr. Glasner shared his goals and actions steps for his first 100 days. His four goals: identify key school district and city government stakeholders among PTO leaders and local and state government leaders; prepare for opening of the new school year by updating leadership, and capital and work-in-process plans; ensure that the district is making progress on long-term plans, particularly regarding equity and facilities; identify instructional focus areas; and define actions for achievement. His deliverables for 2019-2020: create new district plans, participate in equity training, and reopen Fernway.
  15. Mr. Isaacs shared what he perceived as the progress of the “Forward Together” Joint Facilities Task Force efforts. He felt this was an excellent opportunity for Shaker Schools, the City, and Shaker Library, and was excited to see what the next stage would look like.

The Board adjourned the public session at 7:02 pm.

Frank Goforth, observer

Finance Committee, July 15, 2019

August 16th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair) and Earl Williams: citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Linda Lalley, Martin Kolb, Anthony Moore

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Communications and Marketing Julie Voyzey, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman, Neighborhood and Housing Specialist Colin Compton, Acting Interim Director of Finance Frank Brichacek

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:33 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the June 17, 2019, meeting for approval. Ms. Lalley commented that the minutes did not appear to accurately represent the full discussion regarding the reserve balance for the city. Mr. Malone asked that the recording of the minutes be reviewed and the minutes corrected; the vote for approval was tabled until the next meeting.
  2. Ms. Voyzey presented a request that the Finance and Administration Committee recommend approval of an amended contract with shark&minnow to develop new strategic photo and video assets for use in a digital media campaign to attract and retain residents in the coming years. The amendment is in the amount of $39,567. The total contract would now be $204,567 and run from Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2020. Funding would come from the Communications and Marketing budgets for 2019 and 2020.

Earl Williams stressed that the videos he has seen have been wonderful and effective, showing how the city has progressed. Mr. Kolb asked if the video would include the schools and library. Ms. Voyzey replied that the schools and library were important reasons why people choose Shaker and stay in Shaker; the video emphasizes the whole community and all aspects for all ages. Anthony Moore asked if the city had gotten any feedback from the real estate professionals. Ms. Voyzey answered that realtors are directing inquiries to our web pages and social media sites. Mr. Moore wished to know if anyone beyond our region is being reached. Ms. Voyzey replied that airline magazines and billboards are being utilized for this promotion. Ms. Lalley asked what percentage of the target audience was being reached by social media versus Shaker Life magazine; she is concerned about the difference in publishing cost. Ms. Voyzey said that Shaker Life magazine is actually very inexpensive, since the publishing cost is supported by advertising. Mr. Malone asked what guided the development of video content. Ms. Voyzey answered that results of the Triad survey of the community was used to target the subject of videos, while neighborhood leaders were sources of ideas and subjects of videos. The Memorial Day video had been a particular success. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Voyzey presented a request that the Finance and Administration Committee recommend approval to enter into a three-year personal service contract with Rory O’Connor in the amount of $60,000 per year for Operating and Editorial Consulting Services for Shaker Life magazine for the period beginning Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2022.

Ms. Lalley remarked that she loved Shaker Life magazine but worried residents felt we may be wasting money versus digital media. Mr. Malone said that the cost of Shaker Life magazine was only around $3,000/month due to its advertising income. Tom Cicarella added that many residents may also assume Shaker Life magazine is a burden on the budget because they are not aware it is almost completely supported by advertising revenue. Earl Williams asked if we promoted Shaker Life beyond the community. Ms. Voyzey answered that there were only a handful of subscriptions but it provides a vehicle for promoting Shaker in businesses and professional offices in the region, the magazine is additionally downloadable and gets viewed by potential residents and businesses outside the region. The request was approved.

  • Director of Public Works Patricia Speese presented a request that the Finance and Administration Committee recommend that the City enter into a contract with Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the resurfacing of Warrensville Center Road and that the funds be included in the 2020 capital budget for street resurfacing. The City of Shaker Heights has received Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) funding through their Provisional Transportation Asset Management Program for the federal Local Public Agency Project (LPA), resurfacing of Warrensville Center Road from Fairmount Blvd. to Farnsleigh Road. The estimated project cost is $2,625,115 which includes construction and construction administration / inspection; design fees are not included in the aforementioned project cost. The design fee is anticipated to be $120,000 based on similar projects. Per NOACA funding, ODOT’s cap is $1,648,000. The City of Shaker Heights is obligated to provide $977,115 for our share.

Sean Malone asked if this included the renovation of the bridge over the RTA tracks. Ms. Speese responded that the bridge renovation is a different county funded project. Mr. Malone reminded the committee that this vote was not an appropriation but a vote to proceed with the project assuming it will be one of several street resurfacing projects in the City’s 2020 capital budget. Earl Williams asked if the gasoline tax were raised would the city get more money for this project. Ms. Speese replied that the gas tax is state money and this grant is federally funded, but that any increase in the gasoline tax could be used to fund other resurfacing projects. Linda Lalley asked if we were unsuccessful getting this grant would we not be able to fund additional street for resurfacing.  Ms. Speese replied that, yes, Warrensville Center resurfacing was a top priority and would directly reduce the funds available for other streets. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Speese presented a request for approval to apply and accept a Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program grant in the amount of $50,000 for the pruning of the large oak trees on Larchmere and Courtland boulevards and Brighton Road. The awarded municipality will need to contribute 5 percent matching funds toward their project, with the city providing $2,500 from the Tree Assessment budget, which does not have the funds to perform this work.

Earl Williams asked if the city would be able to sustain this in the future. Ms. Speese answered that the city would have to reapply every year for these additional funds. The request was approved.

  • Mr. Chapman presented a request to accept and appropriate $75,000 in grant funds from the 2019 Carol M. Peterson Housing Fund of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati. The city received approval in June to fund 10 households with up to $7,500 each in accessibility upgrades and emergency repair work. The purpose of this grant program is to provide low-to-moderate-income disabled and/or elderly (age 60+) homeowners in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee the opportunity to live safely in their current home. Properties must be owner-occupied, single-family homes to be eligible for grant funds.

Mr. Malone wished to know how the homeowner was reimbursed. Mr. Compton answered that the work is first approved by the lender and the city pays for all improvements, not the homeowner; when final invoices are received, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati reimburses the city. Mr. Malone asked how this program was promoted. Mr. Compton replied that property tax records, city inspection reports, and community association referrals are screened to identify potential recipients. Earl Williams remarked that elderly people in arrears with taxes are warning flags, that this is an excellent program. Mr. Kolb remarked that the need is obviously greater than 10 each year and wondered how the projects are selected. Mr. Compton answered that the lender has a set criteria for approval. Mr. Malone asked if neighboring cities were using this grant money. Mr. Compton answered that the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights was the only other applicant he was aware of in the local area. The request was approved.

  • Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney presented a request that the Finance Committee approve and recommend to Council a budget appropriation of $20,000 to contract with the National Fire Protection Association to provide hot-works roofing construction safety training that is tentatively scheduled for September 2019. The community was heavily impacted by the fire at Fernway School. The cause of the fire was determined to be hot-works processes in which contractors use torches to apply a new roof. The fines imposed on the contractor will be used to recover the personnel cost to the Fire Department and will provide training to all members of the Fire Department and Shaker Schools maintenance staff.

Mr. Malone remarked that the general operating fund was sourcing the money before a court order was decided against the contractor, under the assumption the contractor would pay; he asked what would happen otherwise. Chief Sweeney replied that was true, but the contractor is a big company and he is confident. Earl Williams asked if the Ohio building authority will require training. Mr. Sweeney answered that he had reached out to major cities throughout the United States and found that Boston had recently suffered firefighter deaths due to similar hot-works roofing construction accidents, so that now Massachusetts requires this training; perhaps Ohio may require this in the future. Mr. Cicarella remarked that this training should be worthwhile even without reimbursement; have we reached out to the Shaker Library regarding this, considering they are about to make major renovations to their building? Mr. Sweeney replied that he had communicated with the Library. Ms. Lalley wished to know if this training would be required of all contractors operating in Shaker, not just the large commercial contractors. She was concerned how this would affect small contractors and whether they would choose not to accept work in Shaker. Mr. Sweeney replied that the Fire Department will facilitate training for all contractors and it only requires between 1 and 1½ hours. Mr. Cicarella remarked that the certification process might be valuable to contractors, as their liability insurance would be reduced. Mr. Sweeney replied that he had spoken with insurance companies and found there are many roof fires across the country due to this hot-works process. Ms. Lalley worried that this should be better communicated to contractors and residents. Mr. Kolb added that he sees a roofing contractor on almost every street in the city each year. Mr. Sweeney said that he did not want to be a burden on contractors, but the city was leading this effort in Ohio. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Braverman presented a request that the Finance and Administration Committee recommend to City Council to award a design/engineering contract to Euthenics, Inc., in the amount of $64,130 for the Shaker Boulevard/Warrensville Center Road Intersection Improvement Project. Funds for the design work are in the 2019 capital budget.

Mr. Malone wished to know the estimated time frame for this project. Ms. Braverman answered that the design would be complete in 2019 and the construction would complete in 2020. Mr. Cicarella commented that he is a bicycle rider and the north side of this new intersection on Shaker Boulevard would be frightening; he wished to know if a bike path could be routed through the landscaping. Ms. Braverman replied that, yes, this was in the plan. Mr. Malone asked if a westbound driver on Shaker Blvd. could make a right turn to get on South Park. Ms. Braverman confirmed that they will be able to do so. Mr. Malone voiced his concern that there were many issues that the city must take into consideration for such a busy intersection. Ms. Braverman agreed and informed the committee there would be two public meetings held to get feedback on this proposal before work was begun. The request was approved.

  • Ms. Braverman presented a recommendation to authorize the city to enter into a Purchase, Development and Use Agreement with Confluent Development in order to construct an 80-unit Assisted Living and Memory Care facility on the currently vacant three-acre parcel at 16800 Van Aken Blvd. The property is within the Shaker Town Center Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. Development of this parcel will contribute to TIF proceeds, which will be used to pay off TIF bonds. The project will have no less than 80 units, and preliminary plans show 98 units. The purchase price is $13,500 per unit and will total between $1 million and $1.3 million. The payroll is estimated at $1 million and real estate taxes are estimated at $500,000. The share of taxes that may be paid into the TIF district is estimated at $350,000.

Mr. Malone asked if, other than legal fees, there was any commitment of city funding this year. Ms. Braverman confirmed there was no commitment of funding in this request. Anthony Moore asked if the purchase of the land must occur before any commitment to this project. Ms. Braverman answered that no land would be transferred until the project is approved. Earl Williams asked if representatives of the developer, Confluent Development, would be available at the next City Council meeting. Ms. Braverman answered that they had not yet been asked to attend but she would ask them. Ms. Lalley asked if the developer managed this property after it was built. Ms. Braverman answered that another company would have to purchase and operate the property. Ms. Lalley continued that she had concerns the city might be left with an empty building. Ms. Braverman answered there would be “buyback” clauses at closing. Ms. Lalley and Mr. Williams both voiced the importance of requiring approval of the property operator, not just the developer. Ms. Braverman answered that this is not the final plan for this property. Mr. Kolb voiced his concern regarding the Chagrin-Van Aken-Lee Road neighborhood and the concentration of senior living developments in the area; he wished to know if this was part of a plan. Ms. Braverman answered that this was not a planned strategy. Mr. Kolb asked if the Avalon Station 2 plan had been abandoned. Ms. Braverman replied that it had been abandoned. Mr. Malone remarked that the city still owed money on the original Avalon Station 2 TIF. Ms. Lalley added that the tax receipts from the developer alone would not retire the TIF and the city needs taxes from the operator of this property in order to pay the TIF. Mayor Weiss remarked that the developer would not want a vacant building; they would also want to identify a reliable operator before they build. Mr. Malone added that Confluent Development may be a new company, but the people there are experienced; City Council might appreciate a summary of Confluent Development’s credentials to build confidence. The recommendation was approved.

  1. Mayor Weiss announced Director of Finance Robert Baker’s decision to retire at the end of July. A search for a new Director of Finance would begin immediately and Frank Brichacek, a Shaker resident and presently the Finance Director of Willoughby Hills, would be assuming the role of acting interim Director of Finance.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:51 a.m.

Frank Goforth, Observer