CH government 'ain't broke'
Today there is a push to change the form of government for Cleveland Heights. I have lived in Cleveland Heights since about 1967. While attending Case, I rented an apartment in Coventry. After getting married, my wife and I bought a house near Severance center. Our children went to the Heights schools and graduated from Heights High. I have seen a lot of changes in this area over the years. Most of the changes made by the government have been for the good. I am not in favor of making any changes in government. I do not see where a change will affect any of our problems.
With the idea of “If it ain't broke, don't fix it,” I have tried to think of what is broke. My trash gets picked up every Wednesday (not broke). The police do a good job of keeping us in line (not broke). The fire department has kept several houses on this street from burning down (not broke). The street department does a great job of removing snow (not broke). The city streets could always be in better repair, but that is not really broke (not broke). The building department does push all of us to keep our property in good repair (not broke). I could not think of anything with the city government that was broke.
Thinking that the problem might be in the public's interaction with government, I considered several of the discussions of the past several years. I considered the Severance shopping center and the Top of the Hill project. Both have generated a lot of public comments. Neither has been resolved.
Stepping back and thinking about the public comments and many discussions about these projects, I realize that our city government has been allowing and maybe pushing all of this discussion. Our present [seven-] member city council has helped all of us participate in our local government. A strong mayor could say, “do it this way,” and not allow citizen comments. That would get something done, but too many people would not be happy. A weak mayor would let the developer do it their way and ignore the citizen comments. Again, many people would be unhappy. Having a mayor would not help solve either of these two local problems.
I see a whole different set of problems in our area. The problems are economic. Our manufacturing jobs allowed us to build wooden houses for over 100 years. Newer houses incorporated better features. With land available, newer houses were built further out from the central city. Cars have allowed us to live further from our jobs. Older houses require more maintenance costs than newer houses. The result is people moving to wherever their money will allow them to live. No one really tries to live in a particular city.
At every meeting I have attended there was a consensus that more and varied small stores are desired. This is a great idea, but unfortunately not enough people shop in the small stores that we do have. Instead, we shop online. I needed underwear and went to Macy's at Cedar and Warrensville Center roads. The local store did not have what I wanted, so I ordered some from their on-line store. The same thing happened with OfficeMax and Walmart. Our area has plenty of empty storefronts. I cringe when I see a development for “shops below and apartments above.” We have a surplus of shops.
Our current government has encouraged several housing developments near me: One on Mayfield Road just east of Severance, and one on Mayfield across from Severance. Neither has shops. I hope that a developer can be found to replace some of our outmoded up/down duplexes with more modern designed housing. Changing the type of city government has nothing to do with this. I do not see where a change in Cleveland Heights government will help.
Charles Green is a Cleveland Heights resident.