The March 2, 2009 Lakewood city council meeting was attended by about 30 people and lasted around one hour and 45 minutes.
Councilperson Mary Louise Madigan (Ward 4) announced the housing committee unanimously voted to indefinitely postpone consideration of the recently introduced ordinance allowing residents to house chickens in their yards for the purpose of harvesting eggs.
Councilperson Thomas Bullock (Ward 2), who introduced the ordinance, said he hoped to continue discussions with residents and to have an information session on the matter, as well as related issues. Woodward resident Rob Burgoyne, who worked with Bullock to bring the matter before council, was present at tonight’s meeting, but did not broach the matter during public comment. He did announce Lakewood Earth and Food Community (LEAF) will hold their third annual meeting Sunday, March 15th.
Automated refuse collection blowback
Morris Novak, 62, of 1511 Hopkins used public comment to express his anger over the discontinuation of backyard refuse pick-up. He was totally unaware of the change until he received a piece of literature about it in the mail from the city. Representing who he described as fellow citizens who were either too shy to address council publicly or spoke English as a second language, he lashed out at council and the mayor for not making more of an effort to publicize the matter before a firm decision was made.
Novak, a 33-year resident of Lakewood, said he called city hall to discuss the matter and was bounced from department to department. He said Public Works Director Joesph Beno and Carol Rothgery, public works unit manager, did not return his phone calls. Novak was particularly concerned with the problems a 96-gallon garbage container might pose for the city’s elderly population. “I don’t think it’s fair,” he said, and asked council to reconsider their decision.
Beno and councilperson Nickie Antonio (At-Large) assured Novak precautions were being taken to be certain all people who needed help would get it. Beno mentioned the special refuse trucks will be delivered toward the end of May and the new garbage cans would arrive around the middle of May.
Councilperson Kevin Butler (Ward 1) disputed the claim that the refuse decision was made without proper public notice. He suggested Novak, who was getting progressively angrier as he spoke, put any other concerns in writing, so that they could be properly addressed.
Sidewalk dining approved
An issue that arose two years ago, when El Tango Taqueria requested permission to place tables on the sidewalk outside of their restaurant to serve overflow crowds, was resolved after council unanimously approved an ordinance regulating sidewalk dining. “It took a long time, but I think we have a good ordinance,” Antonio said. She hoped the new law would “get some excitement going” in front of Lakewood’s eateries.
Hideous AT&T U-verse box will rise in Lakewood Park
An AT&T representative met with council and allayed concerns they harbored about installing a U-verse box in Lakewood Park. Council gave final approval to the easement and Council President Michael Dever (At-Large) noted the box will be located in an out-of-the-way area and given a natural concealment.
Historic-looking fire alarm boxes are coming down
Top fireman Lawrence Mroz told council that all of the old exterior fire alarm boxes located around the city will be removed by April of next year. The 50-year-old boxes are part of an antiquated system being replaced by a digital network. They are actively used by about 14 Lakewood buildings. Councilperson Bullock inquired as to the fate of the boxes and wondered if the city might sell them on eBay. Mroz said the boxes will be disposed of in whatever method the FitzGerald administration deems fit. He said the city currently has several decommissioned boxes in storage in a secure undisclosed location somewhere on city property.
The finance stuff is usually the most important and least understood business council deals with, at least from the perspective of your average citizen. I don’t understand all of it yet. Councilperson Michael Summers (Ward 3) outlined some matters the finance committee was considering.
There are three unfinished projects council needs to decide whether or not to continue to fund by issuing $3.85 million dollars in new bonds. In brief, Summers suggested going forward with Lakewood Park shoreline construction and Clifton and Detroit traffic signal upgrade projects because the city stood to lose too much by withdrawing. He recommended withdrawing funding from the program that residents use to replace their sidewalks.
Mayor Edward FitzGerald took time out from his covert campaign to become Cuyahoga County’s next auditor to urge council to sit tight a little bit longer before making any decisions on these projects. He reminded council the shoreline situation was a big deal because of a 40-year-old agreement the city had with the Sisters of Charity. The city agreed to accept all liability for matters arising from the dumping of discarded construction materials along the shoreline.
FitzGerald also wanted more time to tinker with the system the city uses to fund sidewalk replacement. Currently, a homeowner is cited for an unsafe sidewalk and given the option to replace it themselves or have the city do it for them. The city contracts with a third party to replace the sidewalk and then bills the homeowner. The homeowner either pays the bill or gets assessed via property tax. The mayor didn’t say exactly how he would change the system, but it might involve federal stimulus money.
FitzGerald indicated there was a lot of federal stimulus money flying around and he has his people running around trying to get Lakewood’s slice of the pie. Councilperson Madigan (Ward 4) expressed hope the city would be “creative” (one of her favorite phrases) in finding ways to use the money, particularly in partnership with local non-profits. FitzGerald said he’s had plenty of communication with places like the Lakewood Christian Center. “We may end-up just being a pass-through, which is fine,” he said.
Odds and ends
Council approved a liquor license transfer for Mullens, the bar in ward 1 at 17014 Madison. Councilperson Butler (Ward 1) talked with the owner and gave thumbs-up to the transaction.
Council’s new intern is a Shaker Heights resident.
The tumult in the finance world is giving Lakewood’s top finance lady little surprises. Some of the financial organizations that were expected to handle bond issuance needed to drop out of the process. They were replaced.
FitzGerald pronounced the city would acquire and/or demolish more Lakewood homes in 2009 than ever before.
RTA received funding to study the possibility of a bus/rapid transit line along Clifton Blvd.