Things are not going well for the youth re-entry program located in the Hidden Village Apartments on Clifton Boulevard.
Mayor Michael Summers said he would meet with program leaders soon to discuss the “unreasonable amount of felony activity” associated with the program, which is operated by the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.
Mayor Summers indicated Police Chief Timothy Malley had been monitoring the situation and recently brought the matter to his attention when it reached the nuisance threshold.
City officials have been well aware of the problems associated with program, but were reluctant to escalate their concerns due to a pending federal lawsuit filed by the owners of the Hidden Village Apartments that accuses the city of Fair Housing Act violations and racism based on events involving the re-entry program.
Addressing a small gathering of citizens at Mahall’s 20 Lanes during his monthly Listening 2 Lakewood event, Mayor Summers called it a “pretty tricky” situation. “They’re still a source of great concern,” he added.
Mayor Summers flatly rejected the allegations contained within the lawsuit. “We’re anxious to resolve it,” he said, adding that all options are on the table. A settlement has been an unlikely possibility thus far because, according to Mayor Summers, “the two sides are not even in the same room” in terms of an agreement.
The lawsuit was scheduled for an August jury trial in a Youngstown federal courtroom. It has been postponed while the city appeals one of the judge’s pre-trial rulings. Mayor Summers said a ruling on the appeal could happen in January.
Human Services under the microscope
With reductions in various sources of city revenue, the mayor is scratching around in an effort to find efficiencies and reduce expenses.
One low hanging piece of fruit is the Department of Human Services. When it was first conceived a couple of decades ago, it was the primary provider of human services in the city.
Over the years, a number of non-profit service providers have popped up and now provide some overlapping services. In addition, the county also provides other similar services.
Former LakewoodAlive Executive Director Mary Anne Crampton, now of MACC Partners, was paid $5,000 to facilitate the planning process for human services needs within the city.
One of her tasks earlier this summer was to organize a discussion among representatives from 35 different non-profit groups operating within the city to figure out methods of efficiently providing services to Lakewood residents. She will release her initial findings in October.
Mayor Summers told his Listening 2 Lakewood audience that the city “may not be able to afford” to continue providing human services at their current level. He emphasized no decisions had been made yet and didn’t believe any “substantial change” would occur in 2013.
Development news: Rockport Square, possible Christian Science church buyer
Mayor Summers hadn’t yet heard any updates on the possibility of Applebee’s opening a location at Rockport Square. A couple of months ago, a senior level Applebee’s representative suggested an announcement would be made toward the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
Mayor Summers thought it might be nice if Forest City would build high end rental apartments instead of condominiums in order to capture some of the demand generated in the downtown Cleveland rental market.
Dru Siley said a couple of weeks ago that serious buyers had emerged for both Lakewood Center North and the vacant Christian Science church building in Downtown Lakewood.
Mayor Summers said he’d “heard some rumblings” that a bank was interested in buying the church and taking on the expensive renovation project. He didn’t know which bank, however.