City Storm/Sewer Water Conveyance, Berkshire Rd.-Derbyshire Rd.

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Photo Nov 28, 1 36 58 PM Photo by RG RosenbaumIt is difficult to promote the City of Cleveland Heights for private investments (Capital Formation) without a well developed, first class infrastructure.

The City of Cleveland Heights may keep losing population and be second in a domino effect after East Cleveland’s failure if it cannot set its priorities right on its infrastructure. If Cleveland Heights government institutions cannot support and serve its residents and maintain or upgrade its infrastructure, it may not attract the quality developers to commit to this city and invest their capital in this city’s future. Only quick profit making, non-committed sharks lurking for public money, subsidies, tax abatements, etc. will come to Cleveland Heights. This only makes the city’s value decline. Cheap construction, poor maintenance, and bad design will never make our city more attractive and will never look good.

Failure and/or mistakes in infrastructure is less forgiving because it is a daily reminder of a government that seems not to care. So people move away and leave the city, small businesses fail, and less value oriented people take their place and move in. It is believed the City of Cleveland Heights is neglecting its infrastructure by letting storm and sewer water flow open and uncontrolled in ever greater quantity, running in adverse fashion through private property. Open, notorious, continuous, uninterrupted and with knowledge and acquiescence. The city’s mistakes made in 1993 (which increased flow and created a choke point), coupled with damages done during storms in 2014-15, and increasing water/sewer quantity and erosion, caused by the uncontrolled flow has reached a dreadful condition. It has created a whirlpool effect, damaging and eroding properties ever more. The city needs to take responsibility and act to correct and/or upgrade and improve the storm/sewer water conveyance.

The unsanitary sewer mixing into the storm water can clearly be observed as toilet waste, dead animals, garbage, etc. as they float by, especially during rainfall. This is more than a nuisance, it is also a health hazard and should not be allowed in Cleveland Heights. Sewer gases and stench, erosion, lead water pipes, leaking water mains (which loses water by the millions), neglected sidewalks, and wild animals, etc. cause health issues, property damage, and a financial burden. This cannot promote the city for a “Best Living” community. Cleveland Heights is also responsible to Lake Erie and what is flowing into it.

It is ironic that NEORSD put signs on catch basins to remind us that this runs into Lake Erie. It is also ironic that the zoning board and city council voted in 2015 to increase living density on Cedar-Coventry to allow for the construction of a cheaply designed apartment building. No consideration to the condition and capacity of the water and sewer system as well as the traffic congestion and neighborhood compatibility (St. Ann Church) was taken into account.

Cleveland Heights residents dutifully pay all their bills: Federal Tax, State Tax, County Tax, City Tax, Sales Tax, Water bill, Sewer bill, Local Sewer bill, Street Lighting, Landfill, Service Fees, Fixed Fees, Permit Fees, etc. The tax increase that the good people of Cleveland Heights passed this year will probably have no effect on high priority services which could make our daily life more enjoyable. Cleveland Heights may collect some of the highest taxes in the area, which repels some people, and even businesses, to come and stay in our city.

There have been numerous letters of complaint over the years, to various city departments, requesting repair, rehabilitation, upgrade, and improvement of sewer problems in our neighborhood. The city turned to its law department to take care of this. While the law department has legal know-how and knows how to impose costs to property owners, it is not able to do the planning necessary to resolve infrastructure problems. It only keeps the law department busy. The law department decided this is not a city or county issue. If this problem cannot be remedied by an injunction, it may end up in real money damages if an injury or death should occur due to this gross neglect the taxpayer would have to pay and foot the bill for city hall’s incompetence. Something is seriously wrong when you need a class action to get the city administration to do its job.

The NEORSD management is now charging a new stormwater fee to every property owner for an alleged program addressing stream, erosion, and water quality problems, while denying responsibility for the same. The message is clear: our government (city and county) wants us to manage the storm and sewer water ourselves while paying for non existent services. The bills are collected with such tenacity to the point of having of line placed on our property. This is all hard to believe! Where does all the money go? We deserve action and not just empty talk! Will we have to decide in the end to give up our iPad or our indoor plumbing? We believe sidewalks should be level and free of obstructions, etc. Also, in residential areas, bicyclists are riding on sidewalks, especially on major traffic streets, to avoid the danger of heavy traffic. In winter time, the city should clear these sidewalks of snow to keep them passable without charges to its residents. We should not have to walk in traffic because the sidewalks are impassable.

A potential master plan for Cleveland Heights should be approved by its people and show how the community wants to be seen and what they want the city to look like. Where the choices of individuals have less priority, the plan should be helpful in promoting further redevelopment for the future of the city. Infrastructure should be of the highest priority in any such plan.

Our neighbors around University Circle are committed employers and world class institutions. It is a great asset for our area. Cleveland Heights should connect with that in style and form, from the hill on Eastward just as Cleveland Heights evolved in the beginning, 100 years ago, with good looking buildings, great architecture, and infrastructure. The city’s character was established in the early 1900s, then int he 40s and 50s, the infills with cheaper builds dulled some of the city’s glimmer and glory. However, the city is still attractive to many people due to its early architectural variety and layout, with many trees and beautiful streets. The city should strive and demand to get higher value architecture on any redevelopment or infill, to make our city more attractive for newcomers. Good planning takes time and should not be rushed, but it should not take forever.

We all hope our newly elected City Council and Mayor will have the vision and foresight to resolve our old problems such as infrastructure soon, so that we can enjoy our city without having to forgive the hazards, nuisances, etc. on a daily basis.

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