Moving forward together
Bay Village leaders meet to discuss city affairs
Bay Village Mayor Paul Koomar, his administration and heads of the city’s boards and commissions held an organizational meeting Jan. 8 to brief City Council members on 2017 activities and plans for the coming year. The three-hour discussion, held at 583 Bistro, was the second such meeting since Koomar took office in January 2017.
“We did this last year with the boards and commissions and found it very helpful to integrate and talk amongst one another. Especially this year ... we have three new council members so we thought it would be important to continue that practice,” Koomar said.
The public meeting is part of Koomar’s pledge to make City Hall activities more transparent, not only to residents but to members of council as well. It helps that the mayor has a friendly relationship with the council president, Dwight Clark, which has not always been the case in the past.
“One of my primary goals as president is to help bring people up the curve here,” Clark said, referring to the new council members. “But also move legislation in an effective and efficient way, yet do so pragmatically, increase the partnership we have with the administration and moving their agenda forward, while respecting the checks and balances we need to have as the legislative part of government.”
Each director provided an overview of their department’s activities, followed by reports from the chairs of the city’s boards and commissions.
Director Renee Mahoney discussed the staff changes made last year. The department was reorganized to three full-time employees, from a mix of two full-timers and two part-timers, saving the city $20,000 in wages.
A goal for 2018 is to find a new finance/HR/payroll system to replace the outdated server and software currently in use. Mahoney plans to continue being aggressive in investing the city’s reserve funds; during her five years as finance director investment income has grown to $173,000 in 2017 from $94,000 in 2012.
The city’s firefighter/paramedics responded to 1,020 EMS calls and 460 fire/other calls in 2017. The mayor and members of both safety forces are wrapping up a revision of the citywide disaster plan.
Fire Chief Chris Lyons shared the results of patient satisfaction surveys, showing a community very pleased with the BVFD. In each quarter last year, Bay placed first or second out of the roughly 140 agencies nationwide that employ the third-party company EMS Survey Team.
In 2018, the department will move forward on a project to transition the monitoring of the fire protection systems in city buildings to Westcom. The move is expected to save the city around $20,000 annually. A new ambulance equipped with the latest technology will be delivered in April.
In what police Chief Mark Spaetzel termed “a year of growth,” calls for service in 2017 increased 20 percent to 13,495. The hiring last July of the department’s 23rd officer brought the BVPD to a full staffing level for the first time since 2011. The full complement of officers saved the city $53,000 in overtime last year.
Spaetzel expects to wrap up work on the deer management plan and animal control ordinances in 2018. Two to four more part-time dispatchers will be hired. Police officers will be provided career path training to encourage a transition to upper management and detective positions. Community engagement initiatives will remain a priority.
Road and sewer crews were busy in 2017 as the department continued with street overlays, a storm sewer replacement on Osborn and a sewer interceptor cleaning. Director Jon Liskovec reported that the city is working with ODOT on engineering plans to replace the bridges on Lake Road over Cahoon Creek and on Queenswood. Indoor and outdoor lighting on city property is being converted to energy-saving LEDs.
Work will continue in 2018 to eliminate the remaining sanitary sewer overflows and improve equipment in the city’s lift stations. A grant-funding strategy is being developed to address the Sunset improvement project. A 500-600 foot section of sanitary sewer will be replaced on Lake Road, as will the culvert that runs under Columbia Road.
The department’s top project of 2017 was the Play in Bay playground renovation. The restrooms at Reese Park were renovated. The 15-year-old pool, which director Dan Enovitch called the “crown jewel of the community,” received updates including a new boiler and averaged 800 swimmers per day in the summer. New sheds were installed in Bradley and Cahoon parks.
Bradley Park will be the focus in 2018. It will get new restrooms and the tennis courts will be repaired and resealed. The city is working with a resident who has started a fundraising project to replace the Bradley playground.
In 2017 the city received a $50,000 grant to install a generator at the Dwyer Senior Center. A senior produce market was launched in partnership with the Cleveland Food Bank and Knickerbocker Apartments, providing free food to 70 Bay seniors once a month.
Director Leslie Selig’s biggest goal for 2018 is to complete the 5-year strategic plan for the senior center. The four focus areas are communications, building, volunteer participation and programming. In particular, the department is looking to serve the 60-70 age range, many of whom are still working and have different needs than older, retired residents.
Director Gary Ebert explained to the new council members the purpose of using the emergency clause when passing certain legislation, as well as the Cahoon Will and trusts. The department is looking to hire an in-house secretary, potentially one who can double as a project leader for the city.
Jennifer Demaline, the part-time director and only employee of the department, said the biggest accomplishment of 2017 was the implementation of the salary and wage administration program. Nearly half of the city’s employees participate in a wellness incentive program.
The hiring cycle will be standardized in 2018. The job application and employee handbook will be revised. The city is preparing for collective bargaining negotiations this fall.
Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission chair Mark Barbour explained the differences between the “old” and “new” versions of codified ordinance 1158, which deals with multi-family dwellings.
Mayor Koomar and Council President Dwight Clark thanked chair Jim Potter for his 30 years on the Civil Service Commission. Potter retires at the end of January.
Architectural Board of Review chair Greg Ernst said the board will be looking at the Liberty Development proposal for attached housing on the former Shell property.
Board of Zoning Appeals chair Jack Norton voiced his support for the city to reverse the 2013 outsourcing of the building department, a process that has been in the works for several months. He also encouraged the appointment of more women to the city’s boards and commissions.
David Tadych, the council representative to the Tree Commission, presented remarks prepared in consultation with former chair Leo Mahoney, who recently retired. The commission will continue its tree lawn tree planting program and would like to digitize its design book that identifies the types of trees suitable for each tree lawn in the city. A tree protection ordinance has been written and submitted to the administration for review.
The Parks and Recreation Commission, chaired by Jeff Walters, reviews the rec department’s programs, fees and needs, and acts as a sounding board for new ideas from the mayor and the city.