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911 Center Growth and Community Growth High on List
by Jamie Ramirez

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The first item on the Cleveland City Council's agenda was a concern about trash along Wildwood Avenue. This was put forth by Pastor George Pulson from Big Spring Baptist Church speaking on behalf of Martha Griffin. Griffin had taken several pictures of the trash along Wildwood Avenue and obvious signs of property neglect. The pictures will be turned over to Code Enforcement and consideration will be taken on those properties the city would be able to take care of. Griffin also showed concern about residential property that has been unkempt. A lot of the businesses in the area have been shut down and the properties have been neglected either by those business owners or by the residents living in the area.

Joe Wilson with the 911 Center gave some updates about the 911 Dispatch on Guthrie Drive which has been open for about 12 years. He gave some insight on their dispatch with all county and city agents including all Bradley, Cleveland and Charleston police departments, fire and rescue and a number of other agencies. Wilson says they are very busy; calls have increased by 23.5%. They are so busy because the agencies they dispatch are also busy. They will dispatch up to 170,000 calls and take close to a quarter of a million telephone calls. They will have to expand even more. The equipment they use is state of the art, it's computer software driven; they have 18 servers in their back office and have about 50 laptops for both dispatch and the emergency management agency. They have a full time IT person on staff to take care of the computers along with members of the IT department of Cleveland Utilities to maintain the computers after hours. They have 17 active radio channels, all compliant with FCC regulations for 2013.

"We're real big on training new employees," says Wilson. They had recently been training new dispatchers who will be done with training in about five weeks. After completing training, the new dispatchers will pair up with a trainer on the dispatch floor, and from that point it will take six to eight months before they can be turned loose...there's so much to learn. They have even managed to bring in speakers to talk about certain situations a dispatcher might be involved in, such as a shooting or hostage situation.

Tennessee was one of the first states to have 911 in all counties and is now one of the first to be Wireless Phase II compliant, meaning they are able to locate cell phones. They can locate it within about a city block. They have asked the FCC about having better means of finding a cell phone's location than they have now. Tennessee ordered a contract to migrate the whole 911 system to an IP system, an internet system. This will give better voice quality, more rerouting capabilities if there are breaks in the lines, and various other opportunities.

The next step is Next Generation 911 (NG911). This will happen when the system is IP implemented. Dispatch will be able to start taking calls through text message, Twitter, Facebook, iPad, etc. and will be able to send and receive images and video, maybe one day even communicate through American Sign Language. 

Funding for 911 is through cell phone use, in the amount of $1.50 billed through service providers to the individual. Local government also fund dispatchers in Tennessee.

Greg Thomas gave an update on the Strategic Plan stating that a lot of progress has been made. There have been three meetings of the task force so far; one in January, one in April and one in June. The next meeting will be August 19, 2010. It will be held at Cleveland State Community College at 6:00 p.m. in the Foundation Room.

At 9:00 a.m. the following morning will be the next meeting of the Strategic Plan Task Force. Citizens are welcome to attend both these meetings. A handout given to the council members gives a history of the project. Right now the City of Cleveland is looking at growth opportunities with the new plants in the area; Volkswagen and the up and coming Whacker plant. At the April meeting, some background was presented on land use, transportation, public facilities and services, mapping, analyzing land use, and even interviewing all the service providers in the community.

"Three key numbers that came out of that report were: 19,000 new jobs, 33,000 new population and 14,000 new households…the task from that point on became how best to allocate this growth throughout the community and what we want to achieve in that," stated Thomas. Some issues came out of that, one being growth pattern, land use and infrastructure linkage, and southern growth pressure. This is pressure in and around exit 20 for additional growth. Northern growth pressure, this is pressure at Exit 33 near the Whacker plant. "Issues relating to the development or re-development of Cleveland's urban core and its surrounding urban environment, another issue was housing in the neighborhood. The final issue was economic development and quality of life," continued Thomas. Many liked the second scenario of the Strategic Plan, Infill and Redevelopment. "That focused a lot on increasing density in and around urbanized area." The next step in the process is the upcoming meetings. "What will happen at that point is a gross scenario assessment and we're going to be looking at transportation impacts, utility including water and sewer impact and fiscal impacts of the growth we just outlined…what impacts does it have fiscally on (the services provided) for various things including law enforcement, fire, utilities so on and so forth," he added. The cost and revenue have to both be taken into consideration along with the quality of life issue. Cleveland currently has a population of 40,261 in 2009, a growth of 8.2% since 2000. Dalton is at 33,604, a 20% growth. Cleveland is projected to have a population of about 45,000 when the 2010 census is published. Councilman Bill Estes expressed concern about the cost of growth, commercial and residential. He stated, "In the next few years we need to be very intentional for the long term health of Cleveland on where we focus our efforts to grow to keep us balanced."

More was discussed about the moving of the Cherokee Chieftain from Johnston Park to the Museum Welcome Center front lawn. Mayor Rowland reminisced about the Chieftain. He had met Peter "Wolf" Toth, the designer, when he came to Cleveland for the first time. To make this sculpture he wanted a 100 year old oak tree that was still in the ground. Toth was also selling smaller carvings of the Chieftain to pay for his stay. First Baptist Church was the original home of the Chieftain. Toth came back in 1986 when the city did the time capsule in Johnston Park and he had asked the Chieftain be treated at least once a year. Tommy Myers, Director of City Works showed much concern over the base of the statue. He stated that no one thinks the base will be able to be moved and it will have to be replaced. He said it would be about $2,000 to replace the base; this would be the only cost of moving the statue. However, there was also talk about making a cover for the Chieftain and some kind of plaque to talk about the Chieftin and give a little history about him. To be able to do this, a more comprehensive plan has to be brought up before a final vote, and a motion will have to take place for the extra work on the Chieftain.

More on Johnston Memorial Park included what the future of this park might be. Veterans and those who attend the Evening Shade events and other events in the park are afraid that this may never be an option again. The City Council believes the heirs of Johnston Park would be open to negotiation about its future. A committee would be made up to talk to the heirs about this issue. Councilman Richard Banks brought up this concern to the council and a second vote by Councilman George Poe opened up the authorization to start negotiations with the family. When the park was deeded over to the city by the heirs of Clyde Johnston Hardwick there were restrictions on what can be done with the park. These are that the park must be maintained as it appeared at the property's conveyance. No monuments, buildings or other structures can be put in the park except for a monument in memory of Mrs. Hardwick. No playground equipment or other objects can be put in the park that might obstruct the view across the park. The park is not to be used as a picnic ground or venue for public speaking. If the City of Cleveland violates any of these restrictions the deed to the park would go right back to Mrs. Hardwick's heirs. The restrictions only allow the implementation of appropriate benches and landscaping. The dilemma with this park is, there is no point in having it as a city park if it can't be used as one. Banks has two goals for the future of Johnston Park. Amend the park's current restrictions and allow the Veteran's Day Ceremony, Evening Shades and others to hold their events in the park, or if the restrictions are not amended the property will be returned to the heirs and will cease being a city park. Banks stated that the discontinued use of the park would be a disservice to Cleveland's citizens; however the council agreed that there is no point in having it as a city park if it can't be used like one.

Tommy Myers spoke about what problems he has seen at the 20th Street and Chambliss Avenue area. He says a lot of cars are parking along the side of the restaurant on the corner. What he wants to do is put an asphalt curb along the street so cars wouldn't be able to park there. This will take care of some of the sight limitations on that road and maybe cut down on the number of accidents also.

A request for rezoning of 125 North Street NW and 4695 Fairfield Farm Rd. NE from Single Family (R1) Residential to Commercial Highway (CH) was brought up for the board by Andrew Thompson.

An amendment to the Personnel Rules and Regulations added a section for Employee Occupational Safety and Health in the personnel manual. This will establish responsibility for the department heads and employees. This will provide them with safety training, a safer work environment, and it will ensure that all accidents will be properly reported. Councilman Avery Johnson expressed concern over seeing a clean up crew with a bucket and some of the employees were not wearing hard hats. He wasn't sure if this was a contracted crew, but the safety issues definitely need to be addressed.

The mayor has been authorized to submit an application to the TML Safety Partners Loss Control Grant for $2,000 with a match from the city of another $2,000 which will total $4,000. The department heads will discuss these funds and the best way to use them.

The Mayor needed authorization to sign an agreement with Brown Realty Corporation and Brown Stove Works. The city is partnering with Brown Stove to donate a little over an acre of land. The city is purchasing another parcel of land located on Carolina Avenue. This land along with another piece of land in the same area will both be used as detention ponds. Landscape work will need to be done and fencing will need to go up on the properties. These and others are in the agreement between Brown Stove and the City of Cleveland. The city said they will try to keep as many hardwoods as possible. "This is another example of public/private partnership that will work out very well for the people," said Mayor Rowland.

A resolution in the meeting on Monday was the authorization of the Mayor to sign a quitclaim deed to transfer the Hardwick Field property to the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority. The Cleveland Airport Authority made a commitment to the City of Cleveland that the old property would be transferred to the new municipal airport. This will happen when the new airport opens and the old one is sold. These proceeds will go towards the cost of the new airport. The hope is that the sale of the old airport will be enough to help fund for the new one without having to go into debt over it. The quitclaim deed written up describes very clearly the property lines of the Hardwick Airport. The Airport Authority meets on Fridays at 9 a.m. at the Municipal Building in the City Council Chambers.

The Cleveland City Council will meet again on Monday, July 26, 2010 at 2 p.m. for a work session and at 4 p.m. for a voting session in the Council Room of the Municipal Building.