by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, February 2017) In his remarks at the beginning of the Cudell Improvement 42nd Annual Meeting on January 25, Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone told of the influence the late Judge Raymond Pianka had on his life. He said, “Ray was like a big brother to me.” He noted that Ray served as a City Council Aide to his father, Michael Zone, in 1972-73 before moving on to become the director of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. So, Ray knew the young Matt Zone and kept an eye out for him when in the neighborhood. Zone recalls Pianka warning him to get home when Zone was hanging out on the corner as a youth.
Zone updated those in attendance on the services for Ray Pianka to be held on Saturday, February 11 from 10 a.m. till noon at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.
Zone then talked a bit about his role as the new President of the National League of Cities and the challenges the organization faces in advocating for cities on the national stage. Zone noted that in the first year he was in City Council in 2002, the City of Cleveland received $42 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home funds. Last year that amount was down to $22 million. He had recently heard that President Donald Trump wants to do away with the CDBG altogether. Zone says he plans to go with a delegation of mayors to visit with the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that Trump relies heavily upon, to try to convince them of the importance of these programs.
Zone then talked about working with Cudell Executive Director Anita Brindza and the Cudell Improvement Board about diversifying its revenue to provide better services at lower cost. Zone promised that Cudell Improvement would continue to serve the neighborhood and become stronger.
Following Zone, Charles Slife, a Special Assistant for Regional Development in the Mayor’s Office, offered an update on the development planned for W. 117th and Clifton. Slife said the Christian Scientist Church has, finally, been demolished. He expects the Carnegie Company, which owns the block on the Clifton side, to get started in the spring in building a store for Lucky’s Market that will sell locally sourced and organic foods; a smaller building with a hair salon; and two fast casual restaurants. He said development of townhomes on the Lake Avenue side of the project would probably get underway later in 2017.
Following Slife’s update, Cudell Improvement Executive Director Anita Brindza introduced the keynote speaker, the new Commander of the First Police District Daniel Fay. Commander Fay, who took command of the First District on December 12, 2016, took a moment to talk of the tragic death of First District Police Officer David Fahey killed while laying down a traffic cone on I-90 a couple of days before the Cudell Improvement meeting. Fay said that a Homeland Security officer in Lorain, Ohio took the initiative to check out a neighborhood of known “knuckleheads” and saw a car fitting the description of the hit and run driver that killed Officer Fahey. The driver was then apprehended.
Commander Fay then shared some of his expectations and goals for the First District. Fay said that when he met with the First District Police Officers during his first roll call as commander, he reminded the officers that they engage the community every day and that he expects them to do so, professionally and respectfully. He told the officers, “If you do that, we all win. If you don’t, you will have a problem with me, and downtown.”
Commander Fay said his decisions as commander will always be “business, not personal; data driven and based on sound principals.” Enforcement will be focused on neighborhoods where the need is greatest, he said. Commander Fay said he also needed the help of those living and working in the First District saying, “If you see something, say something.” He urged individuals with quality of life issues to call his office to lodge a complaint. He promised all complaints would be investigated. Commander Fay said he does “management by walking around – getting out of the office and engaging. You are going to see me out and about. I need to model what I want our officers to do.”
The commander talked about a new Neighborhood Impact Community Engagement (NICE) squad of officers that will work out of downtown to aid with community engagement. He also said he expected his officers to benefit from an additional 40-60 hours of training being offered, as part of the settlement with the United States Department of Justice. He also said the settlement agreement should be bringing much needed equipment to the police force.
Commander Fay then presented an award to Community Policing Captain Keith Sulzer. Fay said Captain Sulzer and a group of 34 officers represented Cleveland well at the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the United States.
Captain Sulzer said he got a chance to see Commander Fay’s style of leadership during the trip to Washington D.C. Sulzer said of Fay, “He is a great leader. He doesn’t just make blind decisions. He talks to the men.”
Captain Sulzer said of the new commander, “he gets community policing.” Sulzer talked of the need for more positive interactions between police and the community. “Danny Fay is going to do that,” said Sulzer.
Sulzer then talked about the Cleveland Police Foundation which supports programs such as Cops and Kids. He said the foundation has money to help people in need and in turn help improve relations between the police and the community. He offered some examples of the foundation getting a bicycle for kid, a crib for a mother without resources to buy one, and cash to help bury a baby that died. He urged people wanting to make donations to the fund to get ahold of him.
Sulzer then told the crowd how lucky they were to have a development corporation such as Cudell Improvement working in their neighborhood. He urged them to “embrace it, support it.”
Executive Director Brindza then introduced Linda Krasienko, President of A Place for Us Development. Brindza said Krasienko came to her 18 years ago with a proposal for a retirement community in the neighborhood.
“It took twenty years to have a dream come true,” said Linda Krasienko about A Place for Us, the new retirement community at W. 116th and Madison. Krasienko invited the community to come and tour the new, fifty-five unit, facility. She said the State of Ohio contributed $2 million in tax credits to help make the community parts of the building that will be used for in-house services.
Krasienko said that the idea for the retirement community came in the course of working at 23 different nursing homes. She had asked that if she ever needed a nursing facility, could she and her partner live together in the same room. The answer was always, “no”, she said. Thus, the concept of A Place for Us came about.
Following the presentation about A Place for Us, Cudell Improvement President Daniel Berry and Executive Director Anita Brindza presented a number of awards.
The Excellence in Government Award went to City of Cleveland Chief Financial Officer Sharon Dumas. Councilman Matt Zone credited her with saving the City of Cleveland from having to make massive layoffs during the Great Recession.
The “Good Guy” Award went to Dennis Matson of Clifton Corporation for his willingness to go along with the recommendations of the Local Design Review committee in his work to rehabilitate a building at 11119 Clifton Boulevard.
The Service Award went to Greg Bucur for designing and building the Little Free Library in the Baltic Children’s Park.
Storefront Awards were given to Peter Katsaros for the Lee Solding Building at 11633 Clifton Blvd and to Hiep Pham for the Clifton Mini Mart at 11022 Clifton Blvd.
In a surprise move, Walter Martin of Martens Funeral Home awarded the Walter and Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award to Cudell Improvement Executive Director Anita Brindza for her more than 40 years of service to the organization and the neighborhood.