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Mar 26, 2024

This all-American cement mixer, shown here at the Marquee at Cedar-Lee construction site, may have some time off on Labor Day (Sept. 4). This will be the case for nearly all Cleveland Heights city offices and operations, with the exception of Cumberland Pool, where the traditional last day of the summer swimming season will be the Monday holiday.Tom Jewell/Special to

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- With school back in session, the Cleveland Heights Police Department recently put out a checklist of safety tips for motorists, parents and students.

Officials noted that the traffic pattern at the Cedar and Lee intersection remains altered, with no left turn at all for eastbound traffic at Lee Road and the usual ban on left turns for westbound traffic on Cedar at Lee during restricted times, generally during rush hour.

With the exception of RTA buses, the curbside eastbound lane of Cedar Road will be right turns only, given the fact that beyond the bus stop, eastbound Cedar is funneled into one lane due to barriers in the curbside lane along the construction zone for the Marquee at Cedar-Lee construction zone -- across from Heights High School’s Crawford Field.

This also makes right turns from northbound Lee Road onto eastbound Cedar Road ill-advised at that pinch point.

Due to construction, the new traffic pattern near Cedar and Lee roads will invariably cause delays, so motorists are advised to plan accordingly.

“If you can, please route around school zones, particularly in the mornings and afternoons,” police noted in a recent city news release.

“School zones are often congested with traffic and can be dangerous for children coming to and leaving school. Avoiding them is safer for everyone and helps ease traffic in the area.”

Motorists who cannot find an alternate route are further advised that school zone speed limits will be strictly enforced.

Parents were asked to talk to their children about how to be safe pedestrians, including crossing behind buses, not in front of them.

“If you can’t see the bus driver, they can’t see you,” police said, also reminding students not to get distracted and to “watch the road, not your phone.”

‘Parking meter blight’

While parking meters are being removed from the former surface lot behind the Cedar-Lee Theatre for construction, resident Daniel Levin believes they have become an eyesore elsewhere around town.

During the public comment portion of City Council’s Aug. 21 meeting, Levin asked about using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to get rid of the rest of them, since they haven’t been in use since the pandemic anyway.

“For years, we’ve had parking meter blight -- tilted over, dangerous and ugly,” Levin told council. “We’re not using them currently and they make us look like we’re living in the 1950s.”

Levin added that the city won’t always have ARPA funds to get rid of them, and “if we’re not planning on bringing them back soon,” this might be the time.

Council held a two-hour meeting with the city’s consultant Aug. 22 on spending the remainder of its ARPA funds -- anywhere from $10 million to $18 million -- depending on how much is allocated for “lost revenue replacement.”

The total ARPA allocation of nearly $39 million has to be obligated by the end of 2024 and fully spent by the start of 2027.

Youth diversion program

In other business, Councilwoman Janine Boyd said she had been meeting with Mayor Kahlil Seren, police and the city’s juvenile prosecutor about “rebooting” the city’s Youth Diversion and Mentoring Program.

It was founded during her term on City Council before she was elected to Ohio’s State Legislature.

Boyd told council that the update includes transgender and non-binary considerations, as well as working with Bellefaire JCB in applying for funding through the Cuyahoga County Youth Diversion Program.

A formal Public Safety and Health Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for September.

Sidewalk program

In a brief discussion on the possibility of establishing a city sidewalk repair and replacement program, Seren suggested that if the city is going to take on a larger role, a “sustainable and dedicated source of funds would be needed -- similar to the assessment homeowners are charged for street lights.”

Councilwoman Gail Larson said this could be another upcoming topic for the Public Safety and Health Committee.

Seren believes the best approach would be a “holistic, citywide system” operating on a rotating basis, fixing dangerous sections of sidewalks and adhering to a “standardized aesthetic -- to do otherwise might result in a more piecemeal approach.”

It remains unclear how much it might cost to shift the program away from what has historically been residents’ responsibility and attach it instead to the city.

City Public Works Director Collette Clinkscale has suggested holding off for the time being because her department lacks capacity and it could cause low- to moderate-income residents more tax delinquency.

She also provided committee members with some cost comparisons from other cities with more comprehensive programs, such as Shaker Heights and Lyndhurst.

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