Observer Reports

Joint Council/Finance Committee Work Session, November 2018

November 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Joint City Council/Finance Committee Work Session
Nov. 12, 2018

(Meeting agenda, minutes and presentations are online at City of Shaker Heights website.)

Members Present: Mayor David Weiss; Council members Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, Anne Williams, Earl Williams and Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Tom Cicarella, Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley, and Anthony Moore

Others present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Finance Director Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Chief of Police Ed DeMuth, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Law Director William Gruber, Public Works Director Patricia Speese, Building and Housing Director Kyle Krewson, Recreation Director Alexandria Nichols, Information Technology Director Frank Miozzi

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Weiss at 7:02 p.m.

Agenda—Council actions:

Mayor Weiss opened the floor to public comment regarding deer management. Three residents objected to the proposal to hire Precision Wildlife Management to implement the 2019 Deer Management Program. Generally, all three objected to the culling of deer and questioned the process followed by the city’s Deer Task Force. They felt other deer management options had not been objectively investigated and resident comments had not been sufficiently considered.

Anne Williams, who chaired the Deer Task Force, replied to these residents. She stated that residents were invited to comment and hundreds did so. The comments were divergent, with many residents very concerned for the safety of their children and pets. Rob Zimmerman, a member of the task force, said that the residents’ questionnaire was advertised in the mayor’s monthly email report to residents and that approximately 700 comments were received. Mayor Weiss echoed Ms. Williams comment and said the follow-up survey continues to get input; he then asked Ms. Chaikin to place the Deer Task Force meetings on the city calendar. Mr. Zimmerman then added that the Ohio Division of Natural Resources (ODNR) had educated the task force in various deer management options and considerations. Mr. Williams said that this issue is not new for Shaker Heights but that he was dismayed to learn the major impact deer were having on the Nature Center, destroying habitat and food sources for other wildlife. He had heard and discussed many options, and would like to learn of viable alternatives to culling that would remove deer from Shaker—but thus far he has not. Mr. Roeder agreed there were many perspectives in Shaker, but public safety was paramount in his decision to support the proposed deer management program. Council then voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

Mayor Weiss then opened the joint City Council/Finance Committee meeting. He asked the members to limit their comments and discussion in this meeting and to concentrate on the overview presentation, saving the details for the next meeting. All members had previously received copies of the 2019 Budget Book (available on the city’s web site) and he hoped they had been able to study it.

Mr. Baker highlighted what he felt were the major issues for the city in 2019: 1) Operating revenue varied considerably month to month, but his experience indicated it would converge to the proposal by year-end, as it had before. 2) The Police, Fire, Public Works and Recreation departments’ union contracts must be agreed upon in 2019, and preliminary discussions indicated starting points could be much higher than the 2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) in the proposed budget. 3) Employee health care costs are rising 8.4 percent in 2019. 4) Expenditures not related to personal services constitute 29 percent of operating expenses and are increasing 12.2 percent year/year in the proposed budget.

Ms. Lalley asked why the proposed budget resulted in a $16 million General Fund end-of-year reserve in 2019 rather than adhering to the ordained “20 percent of yearly expenditures” minimum, which would be $10M. Mayor Weiss replied that maintaining a 33 percent reserve in the General Fund positively influenced the city’s credit rating; a 20 percent reserve would significantly increase borrowing costs. He continued that the uncertainty of labor negotiation outcomes would also recommend a conservative reserve goal. Mr. Malone asked about the source of the $1,295,730 operating revenue increase in the table on page 10 of the presentation, which is more than double the $600,000 increase in 2017-2018. Mr. Baker said that $500,000 of the $650,000 difference is the result of property tax reappraisals in 2018; “other taxes,” charges for services and investment income, accounted for the rest. Mr. Cicarella mentioned the talk of recession in the news lately and asked Mr. Baker to comment on the city’s experience during 2008-2009. Mr. Baker answered that the city did not collapse, but experienced a slow decline; the biggest impact occurred in 2011 when Ohio abolished the estate tax. Earl Williams echoed Mr. Baker’s comment on the loss of the estate tax revenue, which concerns him regarding the city’s capital budget. Julianna Senturia asked for an explanation of the 40 percent increase in transfer from the general fund to the recreation fund in 2019. Mr. Baker replied that the city in some years allowed the recreation fund to shrink in value, but stopped in 2018 and will replenish from revenues in 2019.

Ms. Chaikin then began her portion of the 2019 Budget Presentation, sharing the city’s assumptions for the 2019 budget proposal: end each year with an operating surplus, maintain a General Fund reserve of 33 percent, hold all departments’ expenditures to prior-year level, limit growth of base budget (including staffing), continued subsidy of Sewer and Street Lighting Funds, as well as the subsidy for Recreation Fund. She also reminded Council members of the city’s four goals: efficient and cost-effective government, a vibrant commercial and retail development, high-quality and high-functioning neighborhoods, and an attractive and desirable quality of life. Ms. Chaikin then summarized the 2019 base budget impacts, $1,170,000, and one-time impacts, $860,000, with explanations of how each program enabled the achievement of the city’s four goals. She then outlined the next steps of the budgeting process: a Nov. 26 Council meeting combined with a Council/Finance Committee 2019 Capital Budget work session, a Dec. 3 City Council 2019 Operating and 2019 Capital Budget work session, and a Dec. 17 City Council meeting to adopt the 2019 budget ordinances. All meetings are open to the public for comment.

Ms. Senturia asked if there was any action expected this evening and Mr. Weiss answered there was no action expected now, but asked for questions. Anne Williams asked Ms. Chaikin to include more details on some of the larger expense items. Ms. Moore commented the “Sustainability Consultant” cost was not enough for a full-time director—what level of position was planned? Mr. Weiss answered that a part-time consultant would be used in 2019.

Mayor Weiss then invited comments from the public and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at 9:02 p.m.
Frank Goforth

Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee, November 2018

November 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee
Nov. 14, 2018

The issue of in-home daycare operations has come to the forefront this year due to controversy surrounding in-home daycares in the city. The mayor and City Council have asked that staff look at the city’s regulations concerning in-home day cares and explore possible changes in the city’s ordinances. In addition, Council has referred the matter to the City Planning Commission (which met on Nov. 13) and the Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee (NRDC). The goal is to discuss this matter further.

There are two types of daycares that may operate within homes in the city: Type A and Type B. Their operations are described below:

Type A Daycare Home

  • A day care with 7-12 children at one time in an owner’s primary residence
  • Permitted only as conditional uses in Single Family zoning districts, requiring Planning Commission and Council approval
  • Must have a license from the state

Type B Daycare Home

  • A day care with 1-6 children at one time in an owner’s primary residence
  • Type B’s are a permitted accessory use in Single and Two-Family zoning districts, and a conditional use in multi-family and apartment districts
  • No license or registration is required by the state or city.
  • Only Type B daycares in multi-family and apartment districts require Planning Commission and Council approval.

In-home daycare facilities are regulated separately from Home Occupations under the city’s ordinances, and are not subject to the Home Occupation regulations.

Both Type A and Type B in-home daycares must comply with the requirements listed in the city’s ordinances. The requirements include the following:

  • Operator must live there.
  • Must be at least 500 feet from another in-home daycare on the same street or nearest intersecting street.
  • Can’t have another daycare adjacent to it.
  • Are subject to annual inspection by Housing, Health and Fire Prevention.
  • Any outdoor play area must be fully enclosed by a fence, wall, or hedge of at least 3 feet in height.

The city has anywhere from 16 to 20 Type B in-home daycares (because these day cares are not required to register with the city, this number is an estimate). The city did not have a Type A in-home daycare center until the City Planning Commission approved the Price Loving Arms Day Care (see below).

Action Taken by City Planning Commission and City Council
The CPC approved the Price Loving Arms Day Care at 3293 Aberdeen Road on Sept. 6, 2018, with six conditions. Council subsequently held three public hearings and voted to approve the Type A childcare home with an additional three conditions. The nine conditions are:

CPC Conditions:

  1. Administrative review will occur after one year. It will include compliance with all conditions, with city code and with Conditional Use Permit standards; and neighbor input.
  2. All pick-up and drop-off of children must occur in the driveway.
  3. A continuing obligation to comply with the city noise ordinances.
  4. Correction of all interior housing inspection violations in spaces used by the children before the Type A daycare can begin operation.
  5. Outdoor play hours are limited to between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  6. Requirement to maintain an Ohio Type A child daycare home license and otherwise maintain compliance with local and state requirements.

Council Conditions:

  1. Limitation on weekend daycare to allow a maximum of six children on Saturday and Sunday.
  2. Maintenance of a 6-foot solid wood fence.
  3. Maintenance of a violation-free property and compliance with other housing regulations, including lead-hazard regulations.

Council also passed a moratorium for Type A child daycare homes on Oct. 22, 2018, for six months. This allows time for the city to consider any code revisions. The process going forward includes review by both the Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee and the City Planning Commission. The NRDC will review and provide input to the City Planning Commission. The CPC recommends to Council any code amendments, which could include additional requirements or the possible elimination of Type A childcare homes.

Summary of Comments from NRDC Meeting:
Because the purpose of this meeting was only to discuss recommendations and concerns, there wasn’t a vote and the next step will be for the City Planning Commission to consider the listed points (highlighted comments were emphasized the most during the meeting).

  • Clarification that this is the first Type A daycare center ever registered in the city and there are at least 16 Type B daycare centers. However, this number cannot be verified because Type centers are not required to register with the city.
  • There are a number of Ohio cities that explicitly or effectively prohibit Type A daycares. They include Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, University Heights and Columbus.
  • Both Type A and Type B daycare centers are subject to annual inspection by Housing, Health and Fire Prevention but since Type B daycares are not required to register with the city, the inspections are done on a volunteer basis by the operator. Also, the city no longer has a Health Department, so these inspections will need to be outsourced.
  • In-home daycares are not considered home-based businesses. Because of complaints received by the city concerning in-home daycares, this matter is being discussed.
  • There’s concern about the point at which an in-home daycare facility affects the quality of life of others in the neighborhood.
  • There is a growing need for in-home daycares. Many families prefer this option over commercial daycares.
  • Legitimate concerns over in-home da cares include noise levels, traffic concerns (drop-off and pick-up) and “illegal activity.”
  • Many families consider in-home daycares vital for their ability to maintain their jobs and education pursuits.
  • The lack of registration and health inspections for Type B daycares are very serious concerns that must be addressed moving forward in this process.

Eileen Anderson

City Planning & Board of Zoning Appeals, November 2018

November 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals & City Planning Commission
Nov. 13, 2018

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Councilman Rob Zimmerman; 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

Mr. Weiss 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 Oct. 2, 2018, meeting were approved.


Resident Janet Houk requested a variance to the side-yard fence regulations to add a 4-foot fence and ornamental gate in her side yard. Code requires the fence to be 10 feet from the neighboring house, but the requested fence would be only 6 feet away. Staff recommended approval. Mayor Weiss opened the meeting to public comment. Ms. Houk explained that the new fence is part of her plan for aging in place. The fence would enclose her back yard as far as her side door, the only door in her home with backyard access. This would allow her to let her dog out in the winter without the injury risk of walking in ice and snow. The motion was unanimously approved.


Vintage Development Group requested a variance to the fence and wall regulations for the second building of this 32-unit, single-family attached townhome development at the corner of Van Aken Boulevard, Onaway Road and Sutton Road. The applicant proposes a pair of retaining walls and ornamental fencing in front of the building due to the grade change to the sidewalk. The setback of the wall is from 0 to 4 feet from the property line; code would require a 9-foot setback. In addition, code requires landscaping in front of walls and fences, which will be impossible in this case. Staff noted that this is similar to the variance given for Building 1 of this development last year. It was not expected that Building 2 would require the variance, but after construction began, it became apparent that it would be. Lynn Harlan, representative for the developers, recapped the situation, sharing the plans for the project and pointing out landscaping incorporated into the design. Mr. Boyle asked if the developer expected to need a similar variance for any other buildings in the development. Mr. Harlan believes that would not be the case. The meeting was opened for public comment; there was none. The variance was unanimously approved.


The residents request a variance to the corner side-yard setback requirements for ornamental structures to add a water feature. Code requires ornamental structures to be located in the rear yard, 10 feet from the property line. The homeowners propose existing mounding and landscaping to screen the feature. Heidi O’Neill, landscape designer, explained that traffic noise in the side yard is loud and the water feature is meant to provide a more peaceful atmosphere. She also noted that the backyard faces a neighboring garage that’s at a higher level, creating an unpleasant view. She recapped the extensive landscaping screening planned and noted letters from surrounding neighbors agreeing with the plan. Ms. Ganning asked why the feature can’t go in the backyard. Ms. O’Neill explained the neighbor’s unscreened and higher-elevation driveway is intrusive. In addition, the size of the water feature makes it difficult to keep it the required 10 feet from the property line. The meeting was opened for public comment; there was none.

Mayor Weiss asked for further clarification about the backyard space. Mr. Feinstein explained that, due to the shape of the lot, the backyard is relatively small, making the side yard the de facto backyard. Ms. Ganning expressed concern about the landscape screening blocking the sightlines. Ms. Braverman confirmed that the landscaping would be compliant. There was a motion for approval. Aye: Mayor Weiss, Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Boyle, Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells; Nay: Ms. Ganning


Residents request a variance to the front-yard setback regulations to expand the attached two-car garage to add two more spaces. This would put the garage setback at 78 feet; regulations require 90 feet. In addition, the garage would be 1,106 square feet, while code allows a maximum four-car garage of 800 square feet. Existing and additional landscaping is proposed to screen the street view.

Ms. Ganning asked if the plan was approved by the Architectural Board of Review. Mr. Feinstein confirmed that it was. He added that there were extensive discussions about other features of the proposed remodel of the home that were revised to be more in keeping with the personality of the neighborhood.

Ann Dunning, architect, representing the homeowners, recapped the plan. Mr. Gruber asked if they would be removing trees; Ms. Dunning said no. Ms. Braverman said there was no plan for the garage paving presented. Ms. Dunning replied that it would be only about 18 inches, enough to connect the existing driveway to the new garage. Mr. Boyle expressed concern about creating a precedent with this variance, since there are hundreds of Shaker homes similar to this one. Mr. Feinstein shared that Parkland is unique among Shaker streets in that there are many different setbacks, from 90 to 60 feet, so this would not be a precedent. Ms. Ganning asked why the garage couldn’t be placed on the side of the house. Ms. Dunning explained that the backyard is quite narrow (15 feet) and backs up on a golf course/country club. A garage there would break the golf course sightline for neighbors. The meeting was opened for public comment; there was none.

Ms. Braverman shared that there is precedent for four-car garages without full setback. She asked if they had asked neighbors for their opinion. Ms. Dunning was unsure; Mr. Feinstein responded that letters had been sent about the plan and hearing, and there was no response. Mayor Weiss asked about the level of screening landscaping. Ms. Dunning said there would be a great deal. Mr. Feinstein reaffirmed that there was past precedent for this kind of setback, and other houses on the street had smaller setbacks. Ms. Braverman asked that a more detailed landscaping plan be submitted; Ms. Dunning agreed to submit one. A motion to approve the variances was proposed and unanimously approved.


Brassica, a new restaurant coming to the Market Hall of the Van Aken District, requested a variance to the temporary signage regulations. They would like to install 329.3 square feet of vinyl window signage in the storefront facing Meade Road and 281.3 square feet facing Warrensville Center Road. Code allows temporary availability signs of only 12 square feet per street frontage. These temporary signs are proposed to announce the business, hire employees and block the view of the interior construction. They propose removal in February when the restaurant opens.

Mark Bailin, Diamond Signs and Graphics, representing Brassica, recapped the signage proposal. Mayor Weiss noted that the request states the proposal included a 30-day time period for the Now Hiring signage, and the rest coming down on Feb. 2. Ms. Ganning asked if the Architectural Board of Review had reviewed the signage. Mr. Feinstein responded that they had approved it since it was temporary and that the graphics are approved as well. The meeting was opened for public comment; there was none. A motion was proposed to approve the request with the addition that the Now Hiring signage, requested to be up for 30 days, have a hard take-down date of March 1.


Knez Homes requested a Conditional Use Permit for the establishment of a Small Lot Infill Development (SLID) Overlay District development, site plan review, subdivision of land, and variances to construct a single-family attached duplex on this vacant lot. There would be a front and a rear unit, connected by two two-car attached garages. The front two-story unit has three bedrooms. The rear, one-story unit has two bedrooms. The lot will be split with a shared driveway. A variance is requested to place an air-conditioning unit on the deck on the garage roof and to extend a 6-foot wood fence into the 5-foot side yard (code requires a 10-foot side yard to extend a fence there).

William Sanderson, Knez Homes representative, recapped the requests and shared the plans. Mr. Boyle asked if the deck air conditioner would be visible to neighbors or from the ground. Ms. Braverman confirmed that they wouldn’t be visible. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked the depth of the setback of the front porch. Mr. Sanderson said it’s only 6 feet, because two homes on the lot make that 10-foot code setback impossible and that private space exists in the back. Mr. Feinstein noted that the SLID guidelines permit front porches. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells suggested there’s wiggle room for a deeper front porch than on the plan. Ms. Ganning asked if a large tree in the front lot would block access by safety forces (fire trucks). Mr. Feinstein said that the width of driveways, garage placement and landscaping is common in this neighborhood. Ms. Braverman added that they would confirm with the SH Fire Department. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked about the quality and appearance of the siding matching the wood and brick homes in the neighborhood. Mr. Sanderson discussed the quality of their materials and installation and added that many houses in the neighborhood have added vinyl siding. Mayor Weiss asked how the homeowners would address maintenance of the shared driveway. Mr. Sanderson stated that many of the homes they build share driveways, and they have homeowner agreements but not ones covering maintenance. Mr. Feinstein added that Shaker has many existing shared driveways without mandatory agreements. Mr. Sanderson will submit Knez’s standard homeowner arbitration dispute clause for review.

The meeting was opened for public comment. Reverend Johnnie Cochran, pastor at a church in the neighborhood, expressed his support for the project as a positive development for the area. Crystal Montgomery, a neighborhood resident, shared concerns about the air conditioner on the upper deck. Mr. Sanderson showed her the plans and how the landscaping and wall would block the view of it. Ms. Montgomery also asked if the front and back houses are the same color, asserting that two complementary colors would be a nice option. Mr. Sanderson said that the homes are planned to be built with the same color, per code. Mr. Feinstein added that homeowners who wanted different colors would be welcome to request a variance. Ms. Montgomery was also concerned about the 6-foot depth of the front porch as being smaller than others in the neighborhood. Mr. Sanderson responded that Knez does this depth on other homes and it’s quite functional. He also noted that they’re trying to balance providing outdoor space for both homeowners. In addition, he said, extending the porch would require raising the rooflines. Mayor Weiss asked if the AC unit were low-decibel design. Mr. Sanderson explained that it would require two of those units to cool the space. Mr. Sanderson confirmed that the board would like a deeper porch, with a setback variance.

A motion was made to approve the request based on its alignment with SLID guidelines and the Architectural Board of Review’s approval of materials, with the revision of adding a deeper porch (8 feet or whatever depth a setback variance would allow) and submission of a homeowner maintenance/arbitration agreement for legal review; the motion also approved the subdivision of the land. The motion was unanimously approved. Council confirmation of the SLID Conditional Use Permit is required.


Knez Construction requested approval of the site plan and variances to lot size and side-yard setback requirements for a new single-family house with three bedrooms and a two-car detached garage at the rear of the lot. The lot is 5,200 square feet, and code requires a minimum lot size of 5,600 square feet for three-bedroom single family homes in this zoning district. The driveway side yard setback is only 9 feet; code requires 10 feet. This construction is in a SLID zone, but it is not a SLID house.

Mr. Sanderson, representing Knez Construction, recapped the site plan and variances requested. Ms. Braverman mentioned that Knez holds three side-by-side parcels at that location and asked why this house, the middle of the three, was the first to be built. Mr. Sanderson said it made the construction work easier. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells, referencing the earlier discussion of another Knez home in the neighborhood, asked if a deeper porch would be possible, to be in keeping with other area homes. Mr. Sanderson agreed that it would be.

The meeting was opened for public comment. Mr. Cochran reiterated his comments on an earlier Knez project that this was a positive development for the community. Ms. Montgomery reiterated her earlier comments about increasing porch depth to be in line with other area homes. A motion was proposed to approve the site plan and the variance for the side yard, with the revision of having an 8-foot porch depth instead of 6-foot. The motion was unanimously approved.


The city requested a re-subdivision of land in order to dedicate right-of-way on the east side of Warrensville Center Road in two small sections in front of the University Hospitals Management Services building. Ms. Braverman explained that plans are underway for a 1-mile path from the city border to Thornton Park. The proposed plans were worked out with University Hospitals and will include adding lights, trees, benches and landscaping. The meeting was opened for public comment; there was none. The proposal was unanimously approved. The project now goes to Council to dedicate the right-of-way.

The public meeting complete, a work session was begun.


Council and the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee have asked City Planning and Zoning Appeals Board to review the regulations for Type A (up to 12 children) and Type B (up to six children) day care centers since they haven’t been reviewed since 1995. They were created to meet any state regulations while providing lower-cost childcare options for residents. Mr. Zimmerman offered that Council has looked at state regulations about day care and found that Type B facilities are required to be permitted. He added that there had been a contentious Council meeting about residential daycares with a number of concerned citizens in attendance and that a full and careful review is needed. He said that Council had approved the city’s first Type A daycare, but put a moratorium on additional requests, pending review of the regulations. Mayor Weiss mentioned that he had asked the Law Department to review the regulations, but it wasn’t complete by the Council meeting where the Type A daycare was approved, and the review is still in progress. Mr. Gruber announced that the staff is leaning toward not allowing Type A centers, since they are not required by the state, and requiring registration of Type B centers, which is voluntary now. Mr. Zimmerman is concerned that allowing only one Type A will be seen by some citizens as granting a monopoly. Ms. Ganning shared information that Shaker has larger family sizes and the number of large families is increasing, while the overall population of the city is decreasing; she is concerned about affordable daycare for all residents. It was decided that more time was needed to discuss the challenges, so the topic will be moved to a future meeting.


Ms. Braverman reported that City Planning is seeking authorization for the city to apply for a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant from the state to make major improvements at the Van Aken busway where the Blue Line ends and many bus routes begin. No grant is written yet, but this body will be involved in approval. Mr. Boyle responded that there is much room for improvement and other members agreed. The discussion will continue at the next work session.

The next meeting will be Dec. 4.
Lynn Lilly

Recreation Committee, October 2018

November 1st, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Recreation Committee
Oct. 3, 2018

Present: Council members Tres Roeder (chair) and Sean Malone; Lisa Cremer, school board member; Terri Breeden, deputy director of curriculum for the school district; citizen members Leta Obertacz and Troy Neujahr; Alexandria Nichols, director of recreation, Jeri Chaikin, CAO; and David Weiss, mayor

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

Two items of business were on the agenda:

Summer Pop-Up Programs

Ms. Nichols introduced Alyssa Porter, parks program coordinator, who reported on a new series called Summer Pop-Up Programs in the Parks. A series of free summer programs in our city’s parks was piloted in the summer of 2017 and was run on a larger scale this summer. The idea is to use recreation to build the value of the community and to build relationships. Four different types of programs were offered: youth pop-ups, adult fitness, Shaker Heights Arts Council collaboration, and community events.

The focus this year was on youth programs. Staff collaborated with the Arts Council on programs for adults. Some experimentation was done with date/time/location. Afternoon and evening programs were the best-attended. Total number of participants from May to August was 1,753. Most popular locations were Chelton, Horsehoe Lake, and Thornton parks.

Top three most attended programs were:

  • Art in the Park (at Chelton Park), held for six weeks, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays: 636 participants
  • Youth pop-ups: 892 participants
  • Yoga in the Park: 182 participants

Results of the programming were mainly positive; the community wants more. New residents especially appreciated the activities. To improve, there should be more consistent promotion using hashtag #ShakerPlays. Staff wants to think about including some fee-based programs; some questions have been raised about all of the programs being free.

One new program to be offered from late October 2018 through the end of March 2019 is Parents Night Out, to be offered in a series of 15 Friday nights. A fee-based program, with a charge of $20, it will be done in partnership with the Van Aken District. Friday night programming will include Friday night skate, movies and popcorn. Kids ages 6-12 will be split up by age group.

Budget Process

The last big item on the agenda was a discussion in preparation for the city’s budget process—how to set priorities for future Recreation expenditures. The Recreation Department’s annual budget is $3.3 million with a city subsidy of about $1 million. The staff asked the committee to help define a rationale for allocating public money.

Recreation services are divided into two categories:

  • Value-based services that support strong neighborhoods and school activities and include parks and playgrounds, athletic field management, the ice rink, the pool, child care and camps
  • Discretionary services support active lifestyles that are not obligatory for the city to provide, such as Learn to Swim, sports skills classes, and adult programming like Zumba and yoga

Most programs do have dedicated revenue, but the Memorial Day Parade, park maintenance and facility monitoring do not have dedicated revenue.

The committee was asked three questions:

  • What factors are important to consider when thinking about the annual subsidy?
  • How should the city prioritize value-based programs/services and discretionary programs/services?
  • How should the city allocate the annual recreation subsidy across programs?

The committee identified programs like school-age after-school care as essential and said one priority is to serve people most at risk, including seniors on fixed incomes.

Mayor Weiss invited committee members to participate in the budget process.

The meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.
Jan Devereaux

Board of Education, October 2018

October 24th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights Board of Education
Oct. 9, 2018

The meeting was held in the Shaker Heights High School cafeteria due to the large number of public attendance. The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:08 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Hardaway, and Heather Weingart; Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Wilkins; and Treasurer Bryan Christman
Absent: Board member William Clawson

Rachel Jackson, an 8th-grader at Shaker Heights Middle School, and Miata Hunter, Shaker Heights Middle School Principal, gave a welcome presentation, which included the news that the Rainbow Run attracted more than 550 participants and raised $35,000.

The board approved the minutes of the Sept. 11, 2018, meeting.

Dr. Wilkins then recognized staff and student honors:

  • Shaker Heights High School has the highest percentage of registered eligible voters among Cuyahoga County’s public high schools: 71.5 percent of students who were eligible to vote in 2017 were registered.
  • Shaker hosted the first ever IB regional conference Oct. 6-7 and Dr. John Moore, the district IB coordinator, was recognized.
  • Twelve Shaker High seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists.
  • Freshman Robert Kimmel was named MVP of the GCC Boys Golf Tournament. Robert shot a 76 at the final on Sept. 25.
  • Seven high school students have earned induction into the International Thespian Society.
  • Shaker Heights High School and RG Goslar, a school in Germany, celebrated the 40th anniversary of their exchange program. Shaker’s exchange with Goslar is the longest-standing exchange in the world between a U.S. school and a German school.

Mr. Isaacs next invited the public to share comments. He advised the audience that the usual 30-minute limit for comment would be waived for this meeting, reminding everyone the Fernway report would be lengthy and asking that speakers respect a three-minute limit. All speakers did limit their comments and all were able to speak.

  • Five speakers, including Lomond faculty, staff and parents, spoke in support of a Lomond staff member being considered for termination.
  • Seven speakers spoke in praise of the Equity Task Force first cohort results and recommended the board form a second cohort to continue the progress. Dr. Marla Robinson, the district’s chief of staff, said that the Equity Task Force would continue.
  • Two parents (of two different students) accused members of the high school athletic staff of “shaming” their children and asked the Board to investigate.
  • Sixteen speakers from Fernway and adjacent neighborhoods voiced their praise of the administration and board for their rapid response to the Fernway fire. There were many impassioned pleas for various changes. A formal petition with four specific requests and 339 signatures was presented and will be considered in the board’s decision. The requests were:
    1. Adequate playground and green space for kids to play
    2. Additional square footage to the classrooms and the gymnasium
    3. Dedicated cafeteria, music and art room
    4. Reconfiguration of the space to increase functionality for kids and teachers, including limited options to create high-quality spaces for student services such as occupational therapy and intervention specialists
  • Mr. Isaacs suggested and the board agreed to dispense with the regular facilities construction update in order to allow additional time for a complete Fernway project review. The existing and proposed floor plans for Fernway can be found here: Fernway Proposal: Updated.
  • The $14.6 million insurance reimbursement will cover the cost of renovating the building per the existing floor plan; the renovation would require nine months to complete; thus a decision by Nov. 1, 2018, is necessary in order to open in time for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The board has identified $2 million in the 2019 budget that could be applied toward meeting the four goals of the Fernway petition: $1.3 million had been budgeted in 2019 for Fernway upgrades, and $700,000 for other expenses. The money could pay for the desired changes in the 2019 proposed floor plan—except for the building addition (music room, kindergarten room, expanded gym space). A second floor would be built in the existing open space above the music/art room, allowing for expanded classrooms, a new first-floor cafeteria, and new occupational therapy and intervention rooms. The cafeteria would likely share music room functions. A total of $780,000 worth of site improvements, like added parking and playground expansion, are included in this plan. The construction would require 10 months minimum, so the building would not be ready before the 2019-20 school year. The building could open in the spring of 2020.
  • The proposed plan, including the addition and site improvements, would require $3.18 million. This would make the Fernway building equitable to other Shaker school buildings and meet the four goals of the Fernway petition. The building could open the summer of 2020.
  • The board discussed a possible staggered plan totaling $2.4 million in 2019 for the building addition and $780,999 in 2020 for site improvements. This staggered plan would require only a $400,000 addition to the 2019 budget. The building could open the summer of 2020.

The next item of business concerned district personnel items requiring approval. All personnel items were approved unanimously except for the recommendation to terminate one Lomond staff member, which vote had one board member abstain.

The following business items were approved unanimously: Resolution to waive career-technical training for students in grades 7 and 8 for the 2018-19 school year; resolution approving change order with Bailey Communications for high school and Boulevard School security upgrades project; resolution approving an execution of agreement with Van Auken Akins Architects for the Fernway restoration; resolution declaring an urgent necessity exists and authorizing the execution of a contract with Gilbane Building Co. for the Fernway restoration.

The following board items were approved unanimously: Approval of OAPSE Local #149 (clerical) and OAPSE Local #153 (paraprofessionals) collective bargaining agreements; the appointment of Anita Miller and Theresa Utrup as members of the Finance & Audit Committee.

The board held the second of three required readings of proposed and/or revised board policies, and discussed the Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire a search firm for the permanent superintendent whose term would begin July 1, 2019.

Treasurer’s report: Revenue activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date August 2018 has been similar to the same reporting period for the prior year, with the following exceptions:

  • Real estate tax revenue received in July and August this year was $3.2 million less than last year due to a timing difference in advance amounts paid out by the county. Advances were made earlier this year because taxpayers affected by the new tax law made accelerated payments before Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Other local revenue was $265,467, or 38.1 percent less than the prior year, due primarily to a $334,353 decrease in certain receipts from the state for the Fiscal Year 2018.
  • The district is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2019 as in Fiscal 2018 due to its being on the “guarantee” funding method.

The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date August 2018 was $0.3 million, or 1.5 percent less than the prior year amount due to timing differences in payments and expected growth in certain expenses (primarily salaries and fringe benefits), offset by a reduction in capital expenditures. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations.

The following financial actions were unanimously approved: Two supplemental appropriations totaling $22,500 from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation; a request for tax advances from the county treasurer (improves cash flow and investment income); adoption of the tax rate resolution for tax year 2019 (incorporates new Library millage rate); the Five-Year Financial Forecast required by law. The forecast, which assumes a 6.9 mill school levy increase in 2021, must be filed with the Ohio Department of Education.

Superintendent’s Report: The Calendar Committee has begun meeting to prepare and propose calendars for the 2019-2022 school years. Dr. Robinson will lead this effort. A Stakeholder Survey to gather feedback from the community has been posted with 400 responses in the first 10 hours. The committee expects to present recommendations to the board in January. The PTO Brown Bag Lunch group met Sept. 27, bringing together PTO leaders from each building to meet with the superintendent and staff to discuss issues of mutual interest. September issues included the State Report Card, restorative practices, and parking. The superintendent thanked Holly Coughlin, the Shaker Schools Foundation, and Alumni Relations for a fantastic weekend of Homecoming and Hall of Fame events Sept. 28-29.

The board adjourned the public session at 9:12 p.m.
Frank Goforth

City Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, October 2018

October 24th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals & City Planning Commission
Oct. 2, 2018

Members present: Council member Robert Zimmerman, Mayor David Weiss (chair); citizen members John J. Boyle III, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, Joanna Ganning
Also present: Senior Planner Dan Feinstein, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman Law Director William Gruber

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Weiss at 7 p.m. Minutes of the Sept. 6, 2018. meeting were approved.

Board of Zoning Appeals

Swerve Grille, 20126–28 Chagrin Boulevard

 Public hearing at the request of Sheldon Goodson, Swerve Grille, for a 20-space parking variance to expand the existing restaurant and variance to the fence requirements in order to install an ornamental metal fence around the outdoor dining area on Chagrin Boulevard.

Since Mayor Weiss has a business on the block, he left the meeting to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, appointing Mr. Zimmerman chair.

There were a number of people in attendance, some of whom began speaking before the hearing began, so Mr. Zimmerman explained the process: presentation of appeal, rationales by applicant, discussion, public hearing, deliberation, and then vote.

Staff recommended approving the fence but not the parking variance for the following reasons, among others: 1) the existing parking is shared with another business and there is no available on-street parking or nearby public parking lot; 2) the rear parking lot is very close to single family residences; 3) numerous neighbors have complained about the loud noise during late night hours by calling the Shaker Heights Police Department; 4) there is also a history of nuisance, noise, and suspicious and criminal activity calls to the police; and 5) the parking variance would be detrimental to the public welfare and injurious to property in the neighborhood.

Mr. Zimmerman opened the public hearing.

A representative from the police department discussed the 37 calls for help regarding Swerve Grille in 2017 and 2018, as well as letters from residents and business owners regarding noise, garbage, and safety. The owners of the property related that it took days to learn of problems at the address and that they discussed them with the tenant, who has tried to solve them. The owners then explained the parking situation for the five contiguous buildings on the lot, each with a separate parking area, and spoke of their long-standing residence and commitment to the City of Shaker Heights. The tenant then apologized for the problems and stated that the restaurant is committed to resolving them. Four neighbors and a business owner spoke of the noise (especially after hours), crowded parking lot, garbage tossed over fences into backyards, and conversations/arguments that created issues of personal safety in the parking lot. The panel suggested that the Shaker Heights Development Corporation and Van Aken District could help the owners/tenant resolve the problems, and the owners/tenant agreed to cooperate with the neighbors and city offices.

Mr. Goodson then requested an indefinite continuation of the public hearing while he, his staff, and the building’s owners meet with neighbors and with SHDC and VAD to resolve the noise, parking, garbage, and safety issues.

Mr. Zimmerman announced the continuation of the public hearing.

Van Aken District, C-4 Market Hall building

Public hearing at the request of Jason Russell, RMS Development Corp., Van Aken District Market Hall building, for a variance to the number of primary signs in order to locate a wall sign on the Warrensville Center Road side of the C-4 Market Hall building in the Van Aken District.

Staff suggested approval with the condition that the Architectural Board of Review approves the final design.

The mayor opened the public hearing.

Mr. Russell stated that the Market Hall is a signature feature of the development, and that it has been redesigned inside and out. Code limits this building to three signs, and RMS proposed a fourth primary wall sign. RMS considered approaches other than signs to publicize the Market Hall, a new idea for the region, and discarded them. After studying the possibility of a mural for the east elevation, they determined signage would be less distracting. The applicant wants the sign to be legible from a distance for both pedestrians and motorists.

The Architectural Board of Review approved the sign design at their Sept. 17, 2018, meeting with the following conditions and recommendations:

  1. Investigate the possibility of the arrow heads being larger
  2. With the recommendation that lighting be added to increase the visibility of this sign
  3. With the recommendation that the language at the arrow be geared toward the function of the uses inside the building
  4. Submit a site plan and include the Brassica signage on the Warrensville elevation

The panel unanimously approved the additional sign, citing the Architectural Board’s conditions and recommendations.

City Planning Commission

Cleveland Clayworks, 3445 Warrensville Center Road

Public hearing at the request of Cynthia Warren of Cleveland Clayworks for a Conditional Use Permit to locate a specialized instructional school for a ceramic arts studio and class space in Christ Episcopal Church, and a parking variance.

Staff suggests approval of the Conditional Use Permit and parking variance.

The mayor opened the public hearing.

Cynthia Warren said they have been in business for 40 years. Previously located in the basement of the Coventry Library building, the school/studio must now move since the library needs that space. They have found a potential home for a school/studio at Christ Episcopal Church, in the space previously occupied by Verb Ballets. Code requires 33 parking spaces for such use, and Clayworks estimates using fewer than 20 spots at a time. Further, the school/studio will most likely not be busy at the times the church holds services and events. The potential for a fire because of the electric kiln was raised and then discussed by Cleveland Clayworks staff. The fire hazard issue was dismissed because the site will be inspected by city safety officials. The executive director of the church spoke in favor of the proposal.

The board approved both the Conditional Use Permit and parking variance, citing similar use of the building in the past by Verb Ballets and that the use will not interfere with surrounding development or cause traffic congestion because of the hours of operation and limited number of cars using the parking lot.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m. Because of the general election on Nov. 6, the next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13, 2018.
Barbara Bradley

Library Board, October 2018

October 22nd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
Oct. 15, 2018

Present: Board members Gleisser, Bertsch, Meinhard, Katz, and Williams

The meeting was called to order 6:32 p.m.

After approval of the minutes from a previous special meeting and the regular September meeting, community comment was invited. Shaker Heights resident Frank Goforth informed the board that the library’s website link to the financial report was not active. Library Director Amy Switzer thanked Mr. Goforth for bringing that to their attention and promised the situation would be corrected.

A special resolution was read and approved expressing gratitude to the Friends of the Library, which since its founding in 1980 has donated about $750,000 to the Library. The latest support was to buy a new van.

Board member and finance committee chair Meinhard spoke about the need to not only do competent financial planning, but also to make the community aware of steps that were being taken. He also believes it necessary to continue conversations with the schools, and coordination when possible concerning organizational decisions, financial and facilities planning, and other issues. Ms. Katz volunteered to join Mr. Meinhard in meeting with school district officials.

The fiscal officer presented financial data for the month. Revenue is running slightly ahead of budget projections, and spending is on track to make it likely that there will be approximately $175,000 available at year’s end to transfer into capital or technology funds.

Ms. Switzer reported that interviews were held for a municipal advisor (and background checks were taking place), in anticipation of beginning the Library renovation project. Also in process are observational studies on library use patterns, examination of demographics, and library trends, all part of the planning process. An online survey of residents will be part of the array.

A number of policy revisions were adopted concerning book returns, loan periods (DVDs and hot spots to increase to 14 days), and outreach programs. Also rewritten were policies involving supervision of young children and disruptive youth.

There was a discussion on how to gauge the impact of library services, in conjunction with the quarterly usage report.

Two Library employees, Gail Johnson and Lorraine Lamont, each with 30 years of service, were recognized.

The board accepted and allocated gifts. On Oct. 29 there will be a joint meeting with the Cleveland Heights/University Heights Library Board to discuss matters of mutual interest.

The board went into executive session at 7:40 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman

Library Board, September 2018

October 22nd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
Sept. 17, 2018

Present: Board members Gleisser, Bertsch, Meinhard, Cicarella, Garrett, and Katz
Absent: Ms. Williams

In a special meeting, which spanned five minutes, the board approved a list of records that may be destroyed.

In the regular meeting called to order about 6:40 p.m., President Gleisser noted plans continuing for a joint meeting with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library Board, perhaps in late October. He reported on the first meeting of a facilities planning taskforce that includes representation from the city, schools, and library.

The fiscal officer presented financial statements indicating the library’s revenues continue to be slightly above budget figures and expenses slightly under, indicating a year-end surplus can be expected, with an anticipated transfer of $175,000 to the capital fund.

Director Amy Switzer highlighted “restorative practices” training, and noted upcoming special events at the library, open to the public. Also mentioned were training sessions for all staff on Nov. 9 on harassment issues. She spoke about (and the board approved) a staff member’s request for a personal leave of absence.

Ms. Katz presented and expanded upon a sort of glossary of terms related to project planning and management, in anticipation of the future libraries’ renovation. There was discussion about how to manage the project, how to interact with the city (which owns the Main Library building), a desire to have maximum transparency, and the wisdom of doing financial planning before the design phase begins.

The board also approved changes in the personnel manual, internet access policy (which aims for balance between first amendment/free speech rights and the Library’s ability to bar commercial and offensive content). Also approved were proposed 2019 dates for meetings, holidays, and closing days. The 20 years of service as security officer by Gino Harris were recognized with a commendation from the board.

The community engagement report was made, gifts accepted and appropriated, and personnel actions noted.

Meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman

Finance Committee, September 2018

October 22nd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
September 17, 2018

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley and Anthony Moore
Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Principal Planner Ann Klavora.

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

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. The minutes of the Aug. 20, 018, meeting were approved.
  2. Chief Sweeney presented a recommendation to renew our contract with Life Force Management Inc. for EMS billing and collection services. The Safety & Public Works Committee voted to approve this recommendation and to recommend it to the Finance Committee. The city captures allowable reimbursements from private insurance companies along with reimbursements from Medicare/Medicaid. Additionally, the ordinance authorizes the Director of Finance to waive the associated EMS fee if it is found that the person receiving the services is indigent or otherwise unable to pay for such services. Mr. Zimmerman asked the term limit of the contract and Mr. Sweeney replied it had not been set. Mr. Zimmerman asked if it was renewable. Nancy Moore suggested, since Cleveland Heights and University Heights use the same billing company, that we collaborate and set our terms the same. Mr. Sweeney replied he would leverage that fact in negotiation. Linda Lalley asked if we might expand that collaboration to other cities who share our common dispatch system. Mr. Sweeney replied this may be an opportunity to enlarge this collaboration even though other cities do not contract with the same billing services supplier. Nancy Moore asked Chief Sweeney to explain the “soft billing” process. Mr. Sweeney explained that insurance providers and Medicare/Medicaid are billed directly. The individual is then sent two statements noting unpaid balance and then two “reminder” letters; the billing service then stops any additional collection efforts and does not refer any unpaid balance to any collection agency. Ms. Moore then added that this process had been in effect since the city first began charging for EMS in 1993 and residents are pleased. Tom Cicarella asked how much more EMS expense might be recovered using “hard billing” and collection agencies. Mr. Sweeney replied this would be hard to guess, but noted about 90 percent of EMS expense is recovered using the present method. Marty Kolb expressed his approval that we provide EMS without regard to ability to pay. Rob Zimmerman asked Chief Sweeney what prompted him to request bids for the billing service. Mr. Sweeney answered that the contract had been renewable yearly since 1999 and was overdue for reevaluation. The recommendation was approved unanimously.
  1. Ms. Speese presented a request for authority to enter into an agreement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to accept $50,000 towards the Horseshoe Lake Dam Emergency Modification project. Public Works, the City Engineer, NEORSD, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) staff performed an inspection of Horseshoe Lake on April 18, 2018. It was noted that there was a sinkhole north of the spillway. ODNR voiced concerns about the sinkhole and the possibility of the dam being structurally compromised and directed the city to lower Horseshoe Lake’s elevation by 3 feet to alleviate the hydrostatic pressure on the dam. The cost for this work was $67,000 and NEORSD has agreed to fund $50,000 of the cost.Mr. Kolb wished to know where and what caused the void. Ms. Moore shared that the dam was built in 1852 using only earth and stone, without mortar, and thus is a marvel of stonecutter craft. Ms. Speese shared that the original stonework has been saved, the repairs would use concrete, and the stones would be re-laid as decoration. Ms. Moore asked that the history of the dam be shared with residents. Mr. Sweeney added that residents should be reminded that the lake bottom is soft clinging mud and dangerous for children—some have been rescued by EMS. The request was approved unanimously.
  1. Ms. Speese next presented a request for authority to apply for and accept a State Capital Improvement Program Issue I zero interest loan in the amount of $425,000, which is the city’s 50 percent share of the Huntington/Southington Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Project cost. The debt service will be for a period of 20 years with annual payments of $21,250 funded by general capital. The city’s willingness to apply for a zero interest loan greatly enhances the chances of obtaining the award. It will also allow the city to finance the debt service over a greater period of time with zero interest. This request was presented to the Safety & Public Works Committee on Sept. 7, 2018, when a question was asked if we have any other zero interest loans with DOPWIC. The city has several zero interest loans—for sewer improvements on Hildana, Ludgate, and South Woodland roads, along with waterline work that was performed in 2002 and 2003. The S&PW Committee voted unanimously to approve this request. Mr. Baker explained that Ohio set up zero interest loans for infrastructure projects. The city has several zero interest loans on the books, with some soon retiring, and none have been added for several years. Linda Lalley asked if there were “strings attached” to these loans. Mr. Baker replied that each loan is specific to an infrastructure project that must be approved by the state. Ms. Lalley also asked why the city’s share is 50 percent rather than 25 percent. Ms. Speese replied we agreed to 50 percent in order to improve our chances of winning the NEORSD grant for the project. Mr. Baker added that there is statewide competition for these loans and larger needs are more successful. Ms. Moore reminded committee members that this project resolves the second of seven SSO problems identified for action by the Environmental Protection Agency. The request was approved unanimously.
  1. Klavora presented a request to recommend that City Council authorize a $200,000 application for and acceptance of a grant from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) Transportation for Livable Communities Implementation (TLCI) grant program. The funds will be used to make improvements at the eastbound and westbound Shaker Boulevard intersections with Warrensville Center Road. The Shaker/Warrensville intersection modifications were selected as a top implementation priority due to the confusing/difficult intersection geometry and the large number of Shaker Heights Middle School students crossing Warrensville Center Road. Mr. Malone asked why $200,000 rather than the required $313,000 cost. Ms. Klavora replied that TLCI grant funds were limited, and $200,000 seems the “sweet spot” in order to win. If the grant application is successful, Council will be asked to appropriate the $113,000 City match from the 2019 Capital Fund. Marty Kolb asked which turn lanes were being removed from the east- and west-bound intersections. Ms. Klavora said the lanes are the Falmouth turn lane at Shaker eastbound and South Park turn lane at Shaker westbound. Mr. Kolb asked if turn lanes would be removed from Warrensville Center Road. Ms. Klavora replied that turn lanes would not be removed from Warrensville. Earl Williams asked if these were intersections identified as dangerous by the traffic consultant and Ms. Klavora confirmed they were. The request was approved unanimously.
  1. Principal Planner Ann Klavora next presented a request to modify an existing contract with GPI for an additional $30,415 in order to complete the Farnsleigh Road Streetscape project. The project was temporarily suspended due to conflicts with construction of RMS’s Van Aken District development along the south side of Farnsleigh. The project was originally scheduled and bid to be completed in mid-July, but streetscape work (including new curbs, on-street parking, pedestrian lighting and landscaping) cannot be installed because Nyman Construction is still utilizing the area. The suspension of work is expected to continue until Sept. 20. The project will resume at that time and be completed in approximately one additional month (mid to late October). Planning staff reviewed the additional costs with RMS and discussed various cost-sharing approaches. Cost-sharing options are still being negotiated with RMS, but staff recommends that the city move forward with contract and budget modifications to keep the project on schedule. Ms. Moore and Mr. Zimmerman wished to know how the city agreed with RMS on the cost split. Mayor Weiss answered that RMS had agreed to the original project cost and the cost-sharing was still being negotiated, but the priority today was to expedite the completion of Van Aken District and open businesses as soon as possible. Mayor Weiss continued to explain that during the summer there were 14 concurrent subprojects ongoing at Van Aken and that sequential scheduling is much more expensive. Sean Malone suggested the city bargain a bit more. Mayor Weiss replied the cost margins on construction projects were not high and any further delay for business tenants could have large ramifications. The request was approved unanimously.
  1. Ms. Klavora next presented a request to modify an existing contract with Tri-Mor for an additional $7,300 in order to complete the Farnsleigh Road Streetscape project, for the same reasons as delineated in the previous agenda item No. 6. The Farnsleigh Streetscape project includes infrastructure improvements such as the 10-foot-wide sidewalk/bike path, lighting, landscaping, Doan Brook public art, and other improvements to enhance pedestrian connections along Farnsleigh Road between Warrensville Center Road and Van Aken Boulevard .Marty Kolb wished to know why we were negotiating over $7,300 in a project totaling millions. Ms. Klavora replied that Tri-Mor was not the cause of delay. Sean Malone wanted to know what the Doan Brook public art entailed. Ms. Klavora explained the art showed the location where Doan Brook passed underneath the streetscape and signs would be placed to explain the significance of Doan Brook. Nancy Moore emphasized the historical importance for residents. Tom Cicarella wished to know what the final costs would be for delay. Ms. Klavora said the costs would be known on Sept. 20, when work continues. The request was approved unanimously.
  1. Mr. Baker presented the annual report from the state-required annual meeting of the Shaker Heights Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC). The city currently has two active incentive programs requiring payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). There are Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreements ongoing under one program where PILOTs are presently being collected and paid to the city: Sussex Court and Avalon Station (Phase I of the Shaker Town Center development); and CVS, Library Courts and Compass Storage. The CVS payment for 2018 was much higher than previous payments. The second program, associated with the new Van Aken District, also includes five separate TIF agreements that begin payments starting 2018, split between the city and the Shaker Heights City School District. The TIRC voted and found that the city is in compliance with its agreements and should continue the agreements without modification and convey such recommendation to Council. Both votes passed unanimously. Mr. Baker requested the Finance Committee recommend City Council approve the recommendations of the City’s Tax Incentive Review Council on first reading and as an emergency in order to meet the state law timeline for City Council adoption. Earl Williams, a member of the TIRC, stated that much of the Van Aken program concerned utility improvements for the district. Sean Malone asked why the CVS payment was so large for 2018. Mr. Baker did not yet understand the reason, but he was investigating and guessed it may be related to increased property tax assessments by the county. Linda Lalley commented that residents could benefit from a better understanding of the difference between TIFs and tax abatement. Nancy Moore wondered aloud if a nonpartisan group such as the League of Women Voters could educate residents on these differences. Marty Kolb asked why this recommendation must be approved as an emergency. Mr. Baker replied the state required the TIRC report by the end of September. The request was approved unanimously.
  2. Mayor Weiss presented a request that the Finance Committee support a resolution strongly urging the Ohio governor and members of the General Assembly to invest their projected 2019 state budget surplus in municipalities rather than a one-time income tax withholding reduction. City Council was presented with this resolution about the State of Ohio’s budget surplus at its Aug. 27, 2018, regular meeting. In recent years, the state legislature has decreased funding to, and revenue sharing with, local municipalities. The estate tax has been eliminated, costing the city about 10 percent of its General Fund budget. The Local Government Fund has been reduced by $1 million annually and the tangible personal property tax has been phased out, leading the city to place an income tax increase on the ballot in 2012. Mayor Weiss expected Gov. Kasich’s proposal to be taken up by the state legislators during the “lame duck” session after the November election. Rob Zimmerman supported this symbolic resolution, since there have been tremendous state tax changes for several years, particularly the estate tax elimination, which have balanced the state budget at the expense of municipalities and the loss of city services. Nancy Moore also supported the resolution. Tom Cicarella was favorable to the intent of the resolution, but recommended that the issue would be better addressed by a petition supported by voters, which is binding, rather than a symbolic gesture by municipalities. Sean Malone commented that that City Council had made recommendations previously and should show solidarity with other municipalities. Mayor Weiss emphasized that timing is important; the change could happen any day and the window would close. Marty Kolb agreed with some of Mr. Cicarella’s points. He asked how much this would affect each taxpayer and how would it cost the city; the Finance Committee should have some numbers prepared for the Council. Mayor Weiss replied these numbers would be very challenging to determine for individual taxpayers and he would not want to publish numbers that could not be verified. Mr. Baker commented that the maximum size of Ohio’s Rainy Day Fund is not set by statute; the $2.75 billion maximum is rather an arbitrary number proposed by Gov. Kasich. Rob Zimmerman and Nancy Moore both recommended that citizens be encouraged to attend the October City Council meeting in order to be better informed on the ramifications of tax changes. Anthony Moore asked for clarification regarding the importance of Finance Committee citizen members in this vote. Mr. Malone replied that citizen members had full voting rights within the committee. The resolution passed by a vote of 7-1.

The meeting adjourned at 9:04 p.m.
Frank Goforth

Board of Education, July 2018

September 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights Board of Education

July 17, 2018

Shaker Heights Administration Building


The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:00 p.m.


Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and Board members: Bill Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Heather Weingart; Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Wilkins, and Treasurer Bryan Christman.  Board member Ayesha Hardaway was absent.


The Board Approved the minutes of the June 12th Board Meeting.


  • Interim Shaker Schools Superintendent Dr. Wilkins thanked Fire Chief Sweeney and his crew in attendance for their hard work on Fernway.  Over 20 neighboring fire companies also responded to spell Shaker’s crew.  Dr. Wilkins and Chief Sweeney also thanked the Fernway community for providing water, food, bathrooms for the firefighters. Mayor David Weiss also recognized and thanked the SH Fire Department for their efforts and dedication.
  • Updates were provided by several students and the Superintendent regarding the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. There are several groups of students meeting to consider proposals and projects.  Note there was no public comment offered at the meeting.
  • Wilkins recognized the following students: senior Leo Schirokauer who is the first place winner of the Bayer Bee Care Program’s Young Beekeeper Award and won $3,000 for his work.  Rising sophomore Dalton Mosley won the MAC Scholars Gold Medal for his academic improvement from a 2.9 to 4.0 from 8th grade to 3rd quarter of his freshman year.  The MAC Scholars program was founded in  1990 and gives mentoring opportunities to high-achieving African-American male juniors and seniors to younger students.  SHHS ’18 grad Josie Lowell and rising senior Elizabeth Bugenske for earing All-American Hornors for Lacross.  Rising senrios Chachi Gustafon and Lyle Yost earned All-American Honors in boys swimming and diving.
  • The Equity Task Force update by Carina Freeman, Lomond Principal, gave highlights of work done and future projects on the books including a Book Chat by the authors of “All-American Boys” on October 1 at the SHHS at 7 pm and a film night discussion on the struggle for integration.
  • New operations manager Dave Boyer reviewed the various school building projects currently being worked on.  His report was supplemented by consultants and architects assigned to these projects: Onaway parking lot, District’s capital classroom pilot upgrades, MPH room Mercer; Mercer water line installed and inspected, fire alarms bidding out; security cameras mostly installed.
  • The bulk of the meeting covered the Fernway School fire July 10th.  Dr. Wilkins reviewed a power point presentation that covered status so far.  NOTE — please go to orgdistrict’s website for a new page highlighted on the home page that deals solely with Fernway.  All district communications/photos/task force plans have been added to this new page on Fernway.  This is the best place to get the most up to date information about the fire.  Daily staff meetings have been happening – and daily communications are coming out from the Communications and Public Relations department.  Ideas were discussed on how to let non school families be updated on this situation.
    1. Bottom line -the fire did not go below the roof level due to a cement fire deck between the roof and the rest of the building.  However, it is estimated 400,000-500,000 gallons of water were poured on the fire…so there is water damage.  Not so much smoke damage below again due to the fire deck.  At this point in time (July 17), the ongoing investigation by the fire department has not been completed.  This will determine insurance implications.  No one was hurt in the fire.
    2. An interesting presentation by the company doing the fire recovery (All Disaster Services of Cleveland) highlighted the various complicated steps involved in recovery/stabilizing the building: first securing the site, then removing water and debris, removing and accounting for contents, restoring utilities, adding eventually a temporary roof.  The school board members and Fernway personnel have walked through the building and those who work in Fernway were able to go to their classrooms and account for their belongings and identify what is important to them.  The company has been salvaging what it can — lots of students chairs and desks; most of contents of the Library is salvageable.  Air quality is being tested for particulate matter; and monitors for mold are working.
    3. A goal of August 1st has been set for the district, whose Fernway task force is meeting daily, to come up with temporary locations for Fernway students for August 22 — looking at other buildings, modular classrooms, and spaces in Shaker school buildings.  A community meeting for Fernway residents was set for July 19th at Lomond School.
    4. People often ask what they can do in crisis situations and a fund within the Shaker Schools Foundation to aid Fernway teachers to make their new classrooms their own has been set up.  Go to org/foundationfor more information or one can donate here.
  • The following business items were approved: a change order for the High School parking lot and Onaway parking lot improvements to accommodate more drainage repairs and ADA ramp improvements; an acceptance of a bid to purchase 2 more school buses.
  • The third reading of board policies revisions listed in the agenda occurred and were approved.
  • Financially, the fiscal year 2018 closed June 30th.   Christman also reported on the following legislative items:
  • State Rainy Day Fund is nearly at its statutory maximum of $2.7 billion after Governor Kasich announced a deposit of $657.5 million from the FY18 surplus.
  • ECOT: The 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that ECOT has the right to seek court review of the State Board of Education’s vote to claw back $60million in per student funding. The court ruled that the recovery decision was a quasi-judicial proceeding and thus subject to appeal, overturning a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas ruling.
  • Fiscal 2017-18 State Budget Final Status: State General Revenue Fund fiscal year revenues through June 2018 ended with a $280 million favorable variance while expenditures ended with a $537 million favorable variance,for a net favorable variance of $817 million.
  • Crowd Funding: The Auditor of State has issued a report entitled “BestPractices on Crowd Funding by Teachers”. Some of the suggestions includerequiring crowd funding (CF) campaigns to be reviewed and approved bydesignated school administrators; reviewing to ensure no violations offederal or state laws; ensuring that they comport with the district’sphilosophy; determining appropriateness of the direction of proceedsdistribution; in addition to others.
  • Fair Share Fees: The U.S. Supreme Court issued their ruling for the “Janus vs. AFSCME” case declaring that “fair share” union fees are no longer allowed. The District received lists of non-member “fair share” contributorsfrom the applicable union organizations for which the District ceased such payroll withholdings effective with the July 1st paycheck.

10)  Dr. Wilkins reported that the June session of SELF (Summer Exploration, Learning and Fun) had 543 participantes in 39 programs in June and now 413 participants in 19 programs for July.  A group of students and staff from the HS Asian Studies program traveled to Japan.  Also, a groups of HS German students visited Shaker’s sister school in Goslar; this exchange program is the longest standing exchange between a U.S. school and a German school in the country.  Lastly a group of 11 Shaker students traveled to and performed in Italy with the Cleveland Wind Youth Symphony.


The Board adjourned the public session at 8:01 pm.


Respectfully submitted by Observer Holly Wang