Maple Heights, OH. - Following a contentious month of he say she say and individual wants, Maple Heights council members voted 5 to 1 to pass the emergency road re-pavement program. As Council President Ron Jackson called the meeting to order, residents were ready to grab the microphone for their three-minute presentations. First, Jackson had to remind the residents of the 220 rules, which state that council will not tolerate the use of profanity, inflammatory gestures, or threats.
Senior Resident Vera Ann Markovich stated, "the streets are horrible. They can use some patching up. They can ruin your car." Another older man talked about the trash on Camden. He thanked the city for the quick clean-up. Immediately, residents returned to the subject matter-the roads. "There is a level of integrity from leaders. As a homeowner, I expect results as well as other homeowners. If anyone here is not in support of grant dollars, make it make sense to all of us," said a frustrated resident. Another resident spoke of a letter from his councilwoman in District 5, Tangela Madden. Because no one had seen the letter, Mayor Annette M Blackwell would not address the letter. "The city has committed one million dollars annually for the next three years. We will also continue to seek additional funding. I cannot address a letter that I have not seen nor read," said Mayor Blackwell. Councilwoman Madden let her colleagues know that several of her streets were rated in the 80s. "I want more than a crumb for my residents; she expressed her discontent with the process of the program."
Before the meeting, Councilman Tim Tatum of District three told Brown on Cleveland that he had supported the street road repavement program and would continue to do so. "Although it failed in an emergency, we are making all attempts to pass this legislation in a timely fashion. I have asked my constituents to trust the process. Nothing changes if nothing changes," reported Tatum.
Council President Jackson advocated the fairness of the streets assessment completed by Chagrin Valley Engineers. "Fairness and equity in the seven-council district have unique challenges when your finances do not allow you to fix all of the worse streets in the same year. I am trusting a professional engineer who has over 15 years of experience. We hired his firm. Chagrin Valley Engineer Company followed the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) standards. They used scientific methodology to determine repair order," said Jackson.
During the 90-minute special session, council members also had the opportunity to address the issue. Councilwoman Edwina Agee of District 7 is staunchly against the road repavement project. "I requested a special meeting to discuss this issue, and the Council President did not grant my request. We held our meetings (Districts 1, 5, & 7). Council President Jackson told Agee that he planned a special session before he received her request. Agee vehemently disagreed. After going back and forth, their dispute became moot. Agee only wants to vote after getting her point across. "Let's vote. I know this legislation will pass. I don't need to sit here for attacks," scoffed Agee.
Councilwoman Toni Jones of District Two said she would vote yes this evening. "I am only getting a half street done this year, but we have more streets that the program will repair next year. I don't want residents waiting."
Councilman Stafford Shenett of District One was most vocal. Initially, he voted no on the legislation. Councilman Shenett attempted to explain to residents why. "I am the voice for District One residents. I want Summit and Longvale repaired. I advocate for my residents but must respect the process and decision. I want to go on record. We should fix Summit and Longvale Ave."
The special session had mixed emotions. Council President Jackson had to remind the audience and council members numerous times to be quiet. Jackson ordered the council clerk to take a roll call on the council floor for a vote. The legislation passed 5:2 when Councilman Shenett changed his original No vote to a Yes. The legislation goes into effect immediately.
The outcome of the vote is as follows:
Councilman Shenett (District One) Yes, Councilwoman Toni Jones (District Two) Yes, Councilman TimothyTatum (District Three) Yes, Councilwoman Dana D. Anderson (District Four) Yes, Councilwoman Tangela Madden (District Five) No, Councilman Richard Trojanksi (District Six) Yes, Councilwoman Edwina Agee (District Seven) No.
This matter is a bitter-sweet moment for the citizens of Maple Heights. Residents are concerned about the leadership of Maple's behavior. "I don't care about personalities and who doesn't like who; as a homeowner, I want a return on my investment. We all want to see our community move forward said a District 7 resident."
After the special meeting, Brown on Cleveland had the opportunity to speak with Mayor Blackwell via phone. "The city had not had a street repair program for ten years. I have been the Mayor for seven years. I had town hall meetings to explain the facts. I brought Mr. Edward Hren to meetings to explain the process to residents. Mr. Hren is the expert; I am not an engineer. Unfortunately, several residents did not get the facts. It's time to move on. We received the five votes, and we can proceed. I am grateful," said Mayor Blackwell.
Concerned Citizens can visit the Maple Heights website to review the street pavement repair map.