Westshore Council of Governments (WCOG) Meeting, March 10, 2021
This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Westshore Council of Governments, and is not an official statement by the League of Women Voters, nor does it represent the official minutes of the meeting, which are prepared by Mayor Cooney's office.
Present: Mayors Cooney, Fairview Park, presiding; Koomar, Bay Village; George, Lakewood; Bobst, Rocky River.
The meeting was held in the Fairview Park Gemini Center. It was called to order at 9:46 a.m.
Fiscal Officer’s Report – Renee Mahoney: Special Agent Matt Vanyo has completed all exams and formally accepted the Westshore Enforcement Bureau's offer of the special agent position, to start June 1. Retiring Special Agent Jeff Capretto was planning on retiring May 1. It is yet to be determined if he will remain in his position through May, full or part time. Fiscal Officer Mahoney asked for the approval of the $84,500 annual salary for Special Agent Vanyo. Motion passed.
February financial reports: They are produced by a new financial system and Fiscal Officer Mahoney explained the differences in reporting from the old system. Three reports were presented: Summary, Revenue, and Expense. Mayor Bobst inquired about Westshore CERT's financial status. Mahoney will request a report from CERT. Finance report was approved.
RTA: Mayor Koomar was sworn in as RTA board member; he was briefed by former board president, Mayor Clough.
NOACA (Koomar): There is information about the proposed Hyperloop train on their website, noaca.org. People may see mention of it in the news, and ask about it. NOACA did a study, which the federal government reviewed favorably, but nothing has been finalized yet; they are still looking at which corridors to run it in. The Great Lakes corridor (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago) is being considered as one of the first sites. There will need to be a surface transportation bill to fund it.
Planning Commission: Mary Cierebiej, new (as of Jan. 11) executive director of Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, introduced herself and reported that so far, she is determining what her role on the Commission should be. She wants the Commission to be more forward-facing, and to improve the dialogue between all mayors and the Commission. They are working on moving planning grants forward and helping communities to access available grants. Mary noted that there is a databook of statistics that the cities can use for grant proposals, etc., and this needs to be shared. There are lots of intermingled organizations involved, but most cities have a single planning/economic development director, not separate ones. The Commission needs to bring economic development into their planning.
Mayor Bobst pointed out that the Commission discussed the scope of the position before hiring the new director. There were lots of turnovers before. Mayor Bobst acknowledged that meeting remotely over the past year has been difficult, and she gives credit to those who were there before for keeping projects moving. Residents want to hear about collaborations and strategic investments, not duplication of efforts among the cities. She is excited about Mary’s energy, and the fact that she has worked with the County and knows the players is a plus.
Mayor Cooney asked about the microgrid as it pertains to the Brookpark Road NASA project. Director Cierebiej did not have specific information about it, and that Aerozone Alliance would be the place to get such information.
Mayors and Managers Assn. (Lisa Barnow, Executive Director): The group has scheduled a Virtual Day in Columbus on April 21 to meet with state lawmakers. Mayor Koomar remarked that it would be good to actually go there; possibly this could happen in the fall.
The Aerozone Alliance was on M&M agenda for their meeting on March 25. Mayor Bobst and Mayor Cooney agreed that letting people know about the Alliance would be a good idea. Mayor Bobst reported that there will be a release of a document with more information on the Alliance in the near future. Mayor Bobst brought up the Aerozone (Aerotropolis), a $200,000,000 project, that she hoped would come together with the right public/private partnership.
Director Barno met with U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez regarding transportation. Sewer issues were a main topic at the meeting. Director Barno will be lobbying for funding for sewer issues for cities in and out of the sewer district. She will be sending a survey regarding sewer issues. She also distributed, via email, information regarding the money cities will be receiving from the American Rescue Plan 2021. This money will not have as many restrictions as that which cities received from the CARES Act.
Mayor Cooney asked if there was any information about summer festivals/events. Director Barno talked with CCBH’s Terry Allan and he said guidelines will be coming out soon. Mayor Cooney continued that the cities need guidelines for holding public events this summer, even though it’s not known what the COVID situation will be. Mayor Koomar suggested putting out initial guidelines for dates until Memorial Day. More details on summer events can come out later.
Mayor Cooney pointed out that the Mayors and Managers Association has been very helpful to the individual cities.
COVID vaccines: Mayor Bobst said that it’s important is to use all vehicles of communication to let organizations know about their opportunities. The City of Cleveland can’t organize transportation to the mass vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center, but maybe some cities can.
Fairview Park had a second vaccine session at its senior center. Many people have mobility issues and couldn’t come in. Cities need to reach out to them. There are no plans for future vaccine distributions at senior centers. Mayor Bobst reached out to the contractor that has distributed flu shots to their employees. Rocky River could set one up, if the vaccine comes in. Small contractors have not been able to get the vaccine.
Hazmat Technical Rescue Team: Mayor Cooney referred to the letter from the fire chiefs about the organizational structure and operations of the Westshore Hazmat & Technical Rescue Team. Copies of the agreement were distributed to members. The chiefs are talking about updating the agreement. All mayors have been talking with their chiefs. Fiscal Officer Mahoney recommended the Hazmat Technical Rescue Team stay with the WCOG in regard to finances. All members agreed to wait until Special Agent Matt Vanyo begins on June 1, and the chiefs can come back with a recommendation. Mayor Cooney will follow up with FPFD Chief Raffin. Mayor Koomar suggested the chiefs attend a WCOG meeting. The item will be added to the April agenda.
Next WCOG meetings: Tuesday, April 13, and Wednesday, May 12. The director of the Metroparks will be a guest in June.
LWV observer Judith Weiss
LWVGC-Rocky River Chapter Chair. Retired librarian, writer, volunteer. Rocky River resident for 11 years.