CAC - October 12th 2015
Mayfield Village Citizens Advisory Committee
Oct 12, 2015
The Citizens Advisory Committee met on Monday, Oct 12, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the Historical House, 606 SOM Center Road in Mayfield Village.
Present: Brenda Bodnar (Chair), Shirley Jay, Bob Haycox, Paula Lear, Loretta Williams, Mary Singer, and Merv Singer
Joan Catalano, Tom Piteo, Sandy Batcheller, Carole Marrie, Marilyn LaRiche-Goldstein, and Kay Phillips
Also Present: George Williams (Council Representative), Steve Jerome (Council Alternate), Patsy Mills (Council Member), Al & Jan Muhle (Historical Society), Joan Gottschling (Historical Society), Jim Mason (former Chair of Committee), Lorry Nadeau (former member of Committee), Diane Wolgamuth (Director of Administration), Bill Thomas (Recreation Director), and Residents Alan Meyers & Ron Lear
Approval of Minutes
Mrs. Bodnar opened the meeting and thanked the Historical Society for hosting tonight’s meeting. She also acknowledged the former Citizens Advisory members in attendance as well as other guests and thanked them for coming. The Minutes from the Sept 14, 2015 meeting were unanimously approved as written.
Mayor Bruce G. Rinker – Mayfield Village History and Vision for the Future
Mrs. Bodnar stated, “Now we have our main event. Mayor Rinker is going to talk to us about his time as Mayor and share with us some of the things he has done over the years and all the insights. Thank you so much for coming. You have the stage.”
Mayor Rinker began, “You’re scaring me. This was originally billed as my vision of the future and I felt like Johnny Carson. So I think we’ll scratch that. I am probably too grounded in the history and in this house it probably makes sense to review things. I can’t promise that I won’t put you to sleep. What I will try to do is give you an overview of my perspective over the years and maybe that will spur some questions. I sat down and started to run a timeline and said, ‘Oh no, this will spook everybody.’
“A little history about me. I came to the Cleveland area for law school in 1973 and spent most of the time down in Cleveland in urban areas, in Cleveland Heights. I met my wife Laura while I was going to law school. She is a Mayfield graduate; she graduated in 1972. Long story short, we had our first child. Matthew was born in 1980 and we started casting about. We were in Cleveland Heights in a pretty good school district but we were just a little bit leery about long term. The other thing is that my wife is very much Roman Catholic Italian and I am only half joking when I say that, when you get married, there is this little sheet of paper they slip to you saying ‘I shall not move more than five miles away from Mom and Dad.’ Her parents were aghast that we were all the way down in Cleveland Heights. I have to joke further because their youngest now lives in Avon Lake and I thought her mother was going to have kittens when she went to the other side of the Cuyahoga. None of my family is east of the Mississippi. But we really wanted a good school district. I would think that a bottom line for most people is deciding where their kids are going to go to school…. It was a really big decision for us and I think it’s important to start on that note because moving into Mayfield was a new experience for me. For my wife it was old home week. We moved here in 1984, the first week after Thanksgiving and our son went into kindergarten that following year. The rest is history. We had two more children and I really liked the Worton Park neighborhood where I moved. Beautiful…kind of like a large cul-de-sac.
Progressive Insurance and Worton Park
“For the first two years I was totally oblivious to what was going on in Mayfield Village. But, as it so happened, our neighborhood is sandwiched between the High School and this little property known as Progressive Casualty Insurance. We had a homeowner’s group. Worton Park really was built in the late 1950s, kind of tapered off in the early 1960s. A lot of ranch-style homes as we find in many areas of Mayfield Village because it is truly a bedrock community. You go down four feet and you hit shale. So there are not a lot of basements in my neighborhood.
“It was a very stable, quiet community and, all of a sudden, people noticed that houses were being purchased, mostly along the east side of Worton Park. And there used to be three houses on Wilson Mills, between Worton Park Drive and the original Progressive driveway, which was actually east of where it is today, much closer to I-271. The history of that property is worth noting because as with many along the I-271 corridor, most of the properties in Mayfield Heights, in our community, Willoughby Hills, that whole area was residential.
“We’ve got a picture in our office taken in 1955, former Mayor Beebe took this picture from his airplane and it’s looking west along Wilson Mills toward Lander Road. There is just nothing in the middle there. It is this big, wide-open area. We have another picture of someone who was promising a development where Heinen’s is now. The Aintree Riding Academy was being redeveloped as a subdivision. We used to have riding trails in our neighborhood in Worton Park before I-271 was built. It was part of this large preserve where people could go horseback riding. Aintree, by the way, is named for Aintree in England where the Grand National is run. Beechers Brook, our biggest drainage, is the biggest obstacle at the Grand National. That was the history in that area and we forget about a lot of those things because when I-271 came though, it was like a glacier just cutting right through the heart of everything.
“I learned pretty quickly that zoning is a very important component for what we do in Mayfield Village. Bear with me for a little bit because, if I do nothing else, I want to impress upon you my perspective that really started in trying to understand what the zoning in our community really meant. From zoning you get into more of the planning, and planning ultimately is really the way to satisfy what we think is the way we want to live. It’s understanding the building blocks that are important.
“The property that Progressive owned, used to be the Gould Corporation had it. They had a very savvy attorney named Alvin Krenzler who brought suit against the Village of Mayfield in the 1960s or 70s, shortly after I-271 was built, and said, ‘Look, this property is zoned for residential use, but you are right at an interchange, you are next to the interstate, you have no business keeping it residential. It needs to go commercial.’ Ultimately, there was a lawsuit that was settled. Part of the settlement created a buffer strip between the backyards on the east side of Worton Park and the property where Gould went. Gould eventually sold to Progressive. Progressive owned in all about 45 acres…. Back then, we had zoning restrictions--35 ft. was the zoning height--and that is still true on Beta. It’s on our books. This probably did a lot to set the stage for future considerations of how we were going to manage our real estate.
“Progressive started buying up these properties and my homeowners group got together and they were really nervous. It just so happened my neighbor that I used to walk down to the bus with said, ‘You’re a lawyer, why don’t you be the co-chair of our homeowners group?’ At the end of the day, we ended up negotiating with Progressive, which wanted to expand and wanted to change where their driveway went. Over a period of about two years, it was hot and cold. There was a lot of resistance against Progressive. Progressive looked to downtown Cleveland. My partner, Anthony Coyne, just stepped down from chairing the Planning Commission in the City of Cleveland for about a quarter of a century. He was on the Commission and its Chair for about a dozen years. He was with the Mike White transition team as all of this discussion was taking place off of Mall C, which was the original location that Daniel Bernham had placed for the train station, where now there is this little Amtrak shack. That was where Progressive was looking to build because there had never been any construction there.
The Northwest Quadrant
“There are all kinds of rumors about what happened, but Peter Lewis walked away from Cleveland and he came back to Mayfield. Fred Carmen was the Mayor at the time. Between 1989 and 1991, and I got onto Council at the end of 1987, really 1988, we started wrestling with what was going to go on with this area known as the northwest quadrant, which is Highland Road, SOM and White Road. The zoning in that area, all the frontage is residentially zoned, and then bracketing behind that were two areas of commercial zoning. If you look down on Beta, they are kind of twins of each other. Alpha Drive in Highland Heights is pretty much the same. This plan really was brought by the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. Bob Hill was the person back in the 1960s that was the author of most of these. The assumption always was that if you are along the interstate, have intensive less-residential uses, more commercial uses, and as you move away you get away from those zones and get into residential. We made this drawing in 2004 for the Greenway but, being the clever person that I am, I said, ‘if we color code it yellow for commercial, blue for residential, and yellow and blue make green.’ I’ll come back to why we got in this mode, but as we looked at how future development would go. Beta had already been built out and this area, in 1989, started to become the source of a lot of speculation.
“There were three primary property owners—the LaConti family that owned Parkview Golf Course, about 72 acres. Then there was Howard Schultz who looked like he was the brother of Harlan Sanders. He was the living breathing grandfather clause of zoning. Grandfathering is when you have all these uses that predate the zoning code. He had them all. Trailers and buses and winnebagos, all kinds of stuff that drove everybody crazy but he had the right to do that. He decided ultimately to sell his property to an individual named Jeff Friedman of Associated Estates, that actually had a business on Beta at the time. That was about 50 acres, give or take. And then the sourthern chunk was owned by the Goldberg Companies. Goldbergs, along with Shemo, were the ones that sued Mayfield Heights many years later where Costco went in. That was kind of a landmark decision.
“We had these three big pieces of property and we were approached one day by Fred Carmen who said that Mr. Friedman and his group have an idea to put garden-style apartments in this middle section and I want to get a straw poll from Council that it is something that we would be interested in doing. So we said, ‘yeah, that seems pretty nice’ because we were afraid with the commercial zoning, nobody likes commercial zoning, everyone who lives in a residential area likes residential zoning. So we followed suit and I remember walking out of the parking lot and our former Engineer, Steve Hovancsek, pulled me aside and basically read me the riot act. ‘You dummy, do you realize what you are doing?’ He started talking about terms like density and all of these things that I had really—I had been practicing a different kind of law up to that point. It was a real wake-up call for me. So from about 1989 on, I became almost obsessive-compulsive with what we were going to do with the northwest quadrant. About 300 acres of land, totally undeveloped, what to do? So I had to go back in, eat crow, and tell Fred Carmen. I was sort of the swing vote at the time. ‘Mayor, I gotta tell you. I gotta change this. This is a problem.’ He was not too happy about it, but he had to count the votes and he knew it was going to be a 4-3 vote. So that problem went away for a time, but it begged the issue about what to do with this area.
“So one of the first coming of age for me was just understanding what the zoning was all about. You really have to start with that. The other was learning that zoning is not everything. As much as people will argue how the zoning matters the most, it’s a key component and it’s why we set up zoning areas, but ultimately, the logical usage of land really becomes important. So, the second thing that I think we all collectively learned in that period from 1989, probably up until about 1997, with a few studies in between, was that if we were going to control our destiny, we needed to have a seat at the table. One way to characterize it is we needed to think more like a developer. Developers like to develop other people’s land. We have tax dollars which is, in effect, other people’s money, and we have this responsibility of how do we control our destiny. So we started studying this area. Associated Estates kind of went away, but then we had the LaConti family and the LaContis wanted to sell their property. They wanted to develop their property. They wanted to make money off of this. Their golf course was doing so-so. There was a big push for us, in the Village, to acquire the golf course and own it and have a public golf course. So, shortly after I became Mayor in 1993, we engaged an outfit to study—Golf Realty Advisors—and they basically said, not a good idea. With what you are going to have to put into it, you are going to be paying debt forever, it’s going to be a negative income stream. So the question was, do we really want to have a golf course? Does it mean that much to us?
“We dithered for a while and then the LaContis ended up suing the Village because they wanted to put in high-density housing, so it was the same story we heard on the south. We ended up settling that lawsuit. The two attorneys we hired, Fred Carmen had recommended them, were Mike Gavin and Eli Manos who later became my partners when I joined the firm several years later. But that again was part of my education in dealing with this land use issue. We ended up settling in 1992 the LaConti lawsuit by agreeing to buy it on these conditions: We had five years to close the deal. We had an anniversary date every year, every October. There would be a cost of living factor so if we held out too long, there would be a premium to pay that would get added on each year, like a payment on a mortgage. That settled the lawsuit and then we hired a planner, Bob Hill, who had been with the County previously, and we looked at whether we could rezone this whole area to single family because we thought this would be a neat idea. Referendum vote. There was no doubt in my mind that voters would be in favor of residentially rezoning the property. But the Goldberg Companies, along with Jeff Friedman, said, no and immediately sought injunction, which is, stop the presses. They had the judge seal the ballots so we never knew what the count was. The long story short was the court ruled against us and said that things hadn’t changed enough. There had been some prior litigation dealing with the zoning that went back to the 1970s, frankly.
“So, we got the short end of the stick. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to us because then we said, ‘we’ve got to figure out what we are going to do here. We’ve got this 72 acres that’s like having an elephant for dinner. We gotta eat it. What are we gonna do?’ So we engaged Cleveland State University, the School of Urban Studies, Roby Simons and Kevin O’Brien, and they basically did an economic analysis. They showed, here are five different scenarios of how, if this area were to be built out. We went from residential all the way to one that was purely commercial. We had all kinds of group discussions. We didn’t really have a Citizens Advisory group then, I don’t think, but we had an ombudsman group. We were trying different ways. We had different neighborhoods come together, we did some charrettes. That was 1995 or 1996 and out of that discussion, everyone said, ‘we want to stay a Village, which is under 5,000 people. We want to retain that legal status and we do want to buy this property, but we have to figure out how we are going to pay for it.’
“That was probably the other invaluable lesson we learned, that as much as people like the residential zoning, it’s not a money maker. Typically you lose money. You spend more money to maintain residential than you gain from it. Why? Because you are providing all the amenities, all the services—police, fire, all the services that we provide that everyone really wants and everyone is comfortable with. So we knew we needed some kind of commercial component. We were chewing on this for a while.
The Progressive Deal
“Back up a little bit—in 1991, two years after he had broached the Friedman property, Mayor Carmen comes back to us. Shortly before the election in 1991, he says, ‘I’ve been talking with Peter Lewis. He’s broken off discussions with the City of Cleveland and he’s decided that they’ve got 45 acres of land that they haven’t developed yet. They’ve given up on the idea of buying houses so they can expand their property. Would Council support a deal?’ And we’re thinking, ‘Well, yeah, probably.’ ‘Well, there’s some details. You’ve got to allow them to go to five stories, I think it was four and a half, and there’s this little thing called tax abatement. They are going to want a two-thirds property tax abatement for 15 years. And, they are also saying if this doesn’t work, they are going to look somewhere else.’ I was Council President at that time. We had a highly contested election. Everybody ran for the hills. The School Board was absolutely incensed and censured us for agreeing to a tax abatement over 15 years because that is where a lot of their bread and butter came from. I remember going in front of the School Board, hat in hand, saying, ‘Look, they are our biggest employer.’ All 450 employees in 1991, Progressive was our biggest employer. ‘And we can’t play chicken. If they go away, we’ve got an idea they could pull the rug out from under us.’ The School District was our second biggest employer. So we entered into that agreement. Ultimately, what we agreed to do for the life of that 15 years, we negotiated with the new Superintendent, and Council approved a deal where out of our income tax from all of the new Progressive employees, we agreed to pay up to $100,000. Council was really leery at the time. If we fall below this number, it can’t exceed $100,000. They’ve got to give us some reason why they need the money. There were all kinds of conditions to it.
“Well, Progressive opened up in 1994 and that’s when we started the $100,000 to the school. I think the first year we got past the $100,000 mark in October. The second year it was by June and the third year I think it was by February, I think just the bonuses alone, by the formula we had worked out. That’s how quickly Progressive grew. I don’t think anybody could have predicted it. We agreed that we would allow them to have a height variance and we promoted that with the Board of Zoning Appeals. They had to guarantee that it would be the world headquarters and no less than 1,500 jobs. So, they opened their doors in 1994 and by 1995 they had 3,300 people in Campus I. It was nuts. So, while that’s going on, we’re having this battle with the zoning and land use at the northwest quadrant and that’s when we decide we’ve got to work something out. We approached Progressive in 1996 and said, ‘Would you be interested in partnering with us in the northwest quadrant? Maybe you can acquire something?’ ‘No, we’re not interested.’ Well, within two months that became, ‘Well, we not interested, but what would the deal be?’ That’s how quickly they grew.
“So, there are times when you can plan and try to control your destiny and there are other times when it’s pure, dumb luck. Or it’s the coincidence of the two. I think we had positioned ourselves. We knew we needed to acquire land in order to control land development and Progressive grew at such a rapid rate that Progressive had the need for additional space. What you see now in this map (attached), the yellow that used to go all the way down here. It was one big rectangle—over 200 acres of yellow. With Progressive, we entered into a Development Agreement. There was wetland area on the back of Howard Schultz’s property that was a problem for development. Along the frontage is residential but there is a good section where there is still some commercial development, just to the east of North Commons Blvd. The deal we worked out was you get the hump of the buffalo, we get everything else. We got about 90 acres of land out of that. We also learned at that time, if you think about land use, it also made sense for the public to take control of a wetland area and for the private development to use the land that’s best developed for commercial use. To be sure, we have a unique economic model with Progressive. Larry Goldberg told me countless times, ‘Not everybody has this. What you were able to do with Progressive is really a one off.’ To be the home of a world headquarters that quickly. I think now it’s about 6,600 people that are employed by Progressive in Mayfield Village.
“Go back to the School. Because there had been such animosity and controversy over this Campus I development, we also made a commitment that we would not do any kind of abatement, however, we implemented something that was good for us. A TIF—Tax Incremental Financing—which essentially says you start with undeveloped land. Whatever is developed increases the value of the property by that much. That’s the incremental increase in value. Out of that, we get a certain percentage, the school gets a certain percentage, libraries and so on. We had the ability to negotiate a much bigger chunk to come to us and could have diverted it away from the School, but we agreed that we would not create any more fights and we said we’ll negotiate a pass-through. Whatever the school should get through this increase, it will get. We inked the deal and within a year the State Legislature changed the Ohio Revised Code that gave the School Board a seat at the table that it did not have. We were proactive in saying that we would make sure the tax dollars went to the school…. In 1991, when we entered into the agreement for Campus I, the revenue stream through Mayfield Village property was about $147,000 per year. By 2001, even with the abatement and the TIF we had negotiated in 1997, three to four years later, the School District got $1.5 million from Mayfield Village properties alone. In 1991, there were three Progressive buildings within the School District. By 2001, there were 14 in Highland Hts., Mayfield Hts. and Mayfield Village. I think it helps to keep that in perspective. The ability to have that kind of revenue stream really gave us the chance to do the next phase which was acquire land and control as much as we can to promote development of properties that are already zoned for commercial development.
SOM Center Road Widening
“Don’t forget that Beta was starting to age, so we were looking at, if we make the commercial space less available, it should make this more competitive, more desirable. Time will tell. We’ll see how this happens…. With Progressive’s Campus II came the widening of SOM Center Road…. Most of Mayfield Village is this rectangle with a quarter of our total corporate acreage in the North Chagrin Reservation. So, this spine is Mayfield Village. Widening SOM Center Road--everyone was convinced it was going to be another Mayfield Road, become a commercial corridor and driven into the ground. I believe it was a legitimate fear. We knew that the zoning frontage was all residential, but how best to protect it? Part of our Development Agreement with Progressive was to lock in at least two-thirds of the acreage.
“Ultimately, we acquired a number of properties in order to control much of the western side of SOM Center Road and by 1999 we figured everyone was tired of having the Mayor talk about all this wonkish detail and that’s when we built the swimming pool. And it’s when we hired Bill Thomas, because people had to play. When it’s all work and no play, it makes us pretty dull. We were able to grow those kinds of amenities. We started building soccer fields… We have two superior soccer fields for about $25,000, which people still call Progressive soccer fields even though they are ours. Part of the Development Agreement was the pool. Progressive donated $1 million. It was, in all, about a $3 million project with the playground area. …We paid for the pool in three years. We built the wetland loop, about 25 acres, URS designed this. It’s a mile long loop that contains the wetland area. It helps to control Buttermilk Creek and Buttermilk Falls in the North Chagrin Reservation. Throughout all this time, what we learned is that as we look north and south, we have all these drainages that cut east to west. Beecher’s Brook is our largest drainage. So, it’s one thing to widen SOM Center Road…the fear that we had that this would split things up persisted.
“I started looking at this more and more and in August of 1999, jotted down … and went to a Council meeting and literally put Council representatives to sleep. I said, ‘If we can create in this town center, the only retail area that we have, some kind of connectivity… if we could actually make some linkages around this busy intersection.’ Then I looked at what is along here. Wiley Park, the Historical House, all these ball fields, the swimming pool, most of the municipal amenities that we would want our kids to go to are on the west side, but everyone is living on the east side. We started looking then more critically at how SOM Center Road would be designed….
“From the very beginning, I wanted to put in medians. I encouraged Council to go to Cleveland Hts. and look at Fairmount Blvd. where the median is 25 ft. wide. Believe it or not, when we first started looking at acquiring property, we were looking at a 20 ft. median so that you could pull a car in broadside and be protected from traffic. What we have now is about 14 ft. It got trimmed down. In this, we also were told by our engineers that to control drainage on the east side of SOM, north of Fisher’s, they were going to elevate the road bed and we could actually go under SOM. That was the first idea that we could go under SOM. We looked at another harder underpass, but it seemed to make sense that if we were going to build a trail and have connectivity to our main line trail on the east side of SOM, wouldn’t it be nice to have something that would be more inland, away from traffic. The reason I colored this green was intentional. By creating more public space in this interior area, we broadened the spine of SOM, diminishing the opportunity for zoning battles to argue that we needed to change it to commercial. So between buying land, retaining the residential zoning, working with Progressive so that it did not look to develop its frontage, and building this Greenway, we acquired a number of properties along the way. As we went through different infrastructure projects, we were able to add a third tunnel when we did the conversion from septic to sewer on Highland, Metro Park and Zorn.
“Between 1999 and last year, we knitted together this whole trail. One of the beauties of this trail is that for most areas it runs on boundary lines, in the areas where property owners cannot develop—the setback areas. All through Beta it goes that way. On Highland, we acquired both sides of the road and Progressive ultimately acquired from Goldberg the old Sam Costanzo property. We used eminent domain—about eight acres then—for what was going to be Campus III in 2005. That never went through but we held onto the property and, lo and behold, there was an opportunity when the Library decided to move from the High School where it was a tenant, they wanted to own property. Between us and Progressive, we collectively gave five acres of land for the Library to build its building at over $11 million of its own expense. The Library, along with Progressive, put in a plug for us to get funding for the yeoman’s share of this Greenway Trail. If you go on the trail, you will see property markers where owners donated—one property owner was a hold out—but everybody else, including Progressive, essentially gave us over $250,000 worth of land for the Greenway Trail.
“So that brings us up to the present. You know we built the Fire Station, built the Police Station. The last time we had to issue debt was in 2008 which coincided with the great recession. We built the Police Station in 2010. Between land acquisition and the widening of SOM, we actually had $10 million that we got in outside funding, but it’s still between water, sewer, land acquisition and the actual construction. There was some litigation with the construction. When you add it up, it was over $30 million. So when you look at Ron Wynne’s monthly statements, when he talks about long-term debt, a lot of this was incurred in the 1990s, and early part of this millennium, in building the infrastructure.
“And then 2010 comes along and we recognize with mounting costs for maintaining services and especially for our personnel, that’s when we went to voters to increase our tax rate from 1.5% to 2%.… At that time, with Ron Wynne on board, that’s when we really sat down and published what we’ve been following since 2010—which is essentially our 5-point plan, putting money into long-term debt, paying cash where we can and we’ve been doing that ever since. We’ve been fortunate to build up the reserves.… We’ve paid down the long-term debt dramatically, improving our infrastructure, so every year we’ve had a major road projects. We’ve done Aintree Park, Aintree North, Kenwood. This year, it’s about $3 million when you put it all together for the conversion from septic to sanitary on Eastgate and Meadowood. We have realigned streets, making it so that most of our intersections line up. A future project is to line up Miner Road as a four-way intersection and create a new entryway for the High School.… We’ve had a number of properties where we bought the property more for the dirt than the house and bit by bit we’ve been razing those structures and repatriating the land for public use. We plan to do it again, Council has to approve it, for the razing of the old Zako farm, just south of the ballfields. It will be contoured and landscaped, making a blank slate for some eager Parks & Recreation Director….
“So, where are we today? We’ve invested in infrastructure on Beta. We’ve put in fiber optics to help businesses grow. In 2005, there was a little start-up company called QED. They had three employees…make portable MRIs…QED has moved twice and their third move is about to take place. They signed a deal for the old Euclid Industries property…and they now have over 140 employees…. So we’ve paid attention to what goes on on Beta in terms of infrastructure. We’ve got drainage issues still…that resulted in widening the basin on one of our properties on SOM and we are looking at a by-pass, green design, to handle water flow from this area. As you all know, with our Drainage & Infrastructure Committee, we deal with unique individual problems with one, two or three property owners. Every project, where we go into a neighborhood, we try to beautify it, we try to deal with infrastructure. We’re dealing with Glenview, Bonnieview and Beech Hill with new water systems. The roads will be replaced. We try to keep the character of each neighborhood but try to work with residents to make sure that every neighborhood comes out on top. Over the years, between sanitary sewer conversions where we are dealing with environmental issues, building the Greenway Trail where we have combined with property owners to help defray some of the storm water issues, we’ve turned land control areas into amenities. That was the other final point. It wasn’t just controlling the land, it was to make this a useful corridor.
“Now, future? I’ll say it here, but I don’t think it will ever happen. I would love to see a connection under the road between the south side and this trail. For those of you that are ambitious, you can think about that. I think the future of Beta is likely going to be some sort of mix of uses. We engaged City Architecture some years ago. There’s this big board that shows this diorama. We were trying to envision ways to spur economic development in the Beta Park area and I still think there is some viability for a mixture, especially with millennials today….”
Mayor Rinker pointed out various areas of land owned by the Village and the opportunities for different types of housing and residential development in in the future. He stated, “I think it’s important in terms of future planning. We went through a master plan in 2003. We’ve effectuated many of those goals, but most master plans after five years, and certainly ten years, get stale. They are good to revisit. So, I think that’s a community dialogue in the future. The mantra is: Think big, stay small. I’ve got a feeling that what we’ve done not only has stayed true to a public philosophy of how we should be in Mayfield Village, but I’d like to think we’ve created the kind of template that between land that we control, the kind of land use we’ve helped to guide, we are in a very good position to control those outcomes.”
Mayor Rinker discussed the potential for future development to connect Beta Drive to Highland Road. “The way we have approached things, we should be able marry that kind of park-like development immediately adjacent to a much more intense development. Development agreements allow us a seat at the table where we can control certain outcomes. Where we are willing to partner, we can probably design something that residents would find very palatable and our tax base would find very desirable.”
Mrs. Bodnar thanked Mayor Rinker for sharing the history of the Village as well as the Mayor’s creative vision for what is going on now and what can go on in the future. “The presentation gave a lot of depth to our understanding and appreciation of what we have here now.” Mrs. Bodnar stated that since this is probably Mayor Rinker’s last presentation to the Committee as Mayor, she thought it would be nice if we went around the table and each said something as to what we appreciate that Mayor Rinker has done or some amenity or service that we have enjoyed.
Brenda Bodnar (Chair): “I appreciate most of all the phone calls. There was the first phone call that came through Diane that ‘the Mayor would like you to join the Citizens Advisory Committee.’ I said, ‘are you sure he means me?’ So I got on board. The second call was the Civil Service Commission. Both of those were just amazing opportunities to get involved here to meet a whole new set of people who really care about the Village and who work very hard to make the Village a better place. So it was those calls that really opened doors and opened my eyes to a lot of things. It’s been great. So thank you for that.”
Diane Wolgamuth (Director of Administration): I would like to thank Mayor Rinker for the best job I have ever had in my entire life. Mayor Rinker has been a wonderful mentor to me and a joy to work with.”
Shirley Jay: “I have lived here for many years. One of the things that you have worked on so hard that I really enjoy is The Grove. I love going out there on a summer’s evening and just taking my lawn chair and sitting there enjoying Shakespeare! I’ve never seen Shakespeare outside before. It was wonderful! Or seeing Monica Robbins jumping around the stage with her Country Western songs. I think we are very lucky to have that beautiful facility in our town and so close by. I don’t like to drive far. Thank you for doing that...it is great!”
Mayor Rinker provided background on the history of the development of The Grove. He described that over a period of years, contractors were permitted to dump dirt at the site in exchange for helping to sculpt the hill. He also discussed the effectiveness of the volunteer group that has been developing programming for the past few years.
Jim Mason (former Chair): “My wife and myself and our five children moved into the Village in 1981, so Bruce and I go way back. We just moved out four years ago, just down the street. I have had the opportunity to work with many of the folks here. I’ve had a lot of dealings with some great people and watched the Village change immeasurably over the years. Bruce was the best Mayor that I had the opportunity to work with over those years. Kudos to you and thank you for all that you have done.”
Lorry Nadeau: “First I want to thank your wife for signing that pledge that moved you to Mayfield Village. You have shown me that planning is really an art. I thought the Village was beautiful when I moved here 30 years ago, but just driving down SOM to come here, it’s spectacular. It’s a beautiful place to live. I have a personal remembrance of you and I will never forget this. After Sept 11, my husband and I came to the Civic Center for an ecumenical gathering. And you gave a speech that night, I don’t know if you even remember it. It was beautiful; it was sensitive; it was ministerial. The old church was filled with people. Your remarks were beautiful and you always refer to history and literature when you talk. I was an English teacher, so I love that!”
Merv Singer: “I have lived in the Village for 30 years and have really enjoyed it...although most of the enjoyment was being married to Mary. As a team, she will tell you what Mayor Rinker has meant to us.”
Mary Singer: I have lived in the Village for 54 years. You sent us a letter to invite us to join the Citizens Advisory Committee; that was the first Committee we were asked to join. I really appreciated that. That is when I got involved with Memorial Day. Memorial Day has meant an awful lot to me and without your support, and everything you have done for us, it would never have been. So I really appreciate all the work you have done and the respect you have shown our veterans. And I thank you for it.”
Loretta Williams: “We were engaged and looking for a place to live. I was living in Richmond Hts., and I saw the little sign on Wilson Mills and Joyce. I pulled into the driveway to look and said, ‘this is a great little house’. We bought the house but we didn’t realize how much we gained by living in this community. How beautiful the community is, and just being part of the Council, and everyone is so excited, and they take such pride in the community. They have been so welcoming. And just hearing about and learning about the projects, like the Greenway. I have walked the Greenway, which is incredible, and just to know the history of how long it took to get there. We are actually just taking advantage of all of your hard work. Mayfield is this secret place in Cuyahoga County that not many know exists. I am hoping to keep it a secret.”
George Williams: “This month marks 10 years as residents and we appreciate that while there have been many serious issues presented and debated during this time, there have been no major controversies that affected, harmed or damaged the Village reputation or economic opportunities. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for your business and community leadership and the exemplary personal model that you demonstrated.”
Bill Thomas (Recreation Director): “I want to ditto what Diane said. I have been very blessed to have Mayor Rinker as my boss. I could tell you so many stories, but we don’t have all night. I will tell one. I met Bruce for the first time in December of 1998. I interviewed for the job with Garry Regan and Bill Buckholtz. My dad had been married to my mother for 57 years and she had passed away. Three years later, on the day I was interviewing for this position, my dad was getting remarried so I asked to have the interview in the morning. I met with the Mayor and was hired officially on March 1, 1999. I never forgot that Mayor Rinker said, ‘Bill, I want you to work on one thing and one thing only. I want Parkview Pool opened up on July 3, 1999.’ I arrived with the pool a hole in the ground. …When he says something, you gotta do it. So I had about four months to open Parkview Pool…. I thank you Bruce for all you have done for me.”
Steve Jerome (Council Rep): “I have kind of a silly story. Several years ago, I was at a Council meeting or something and Bruce started talking about Parkview Golf Course, what it was and what it is now. He talked about that he thought that golf was silly and it was better used for a park. At that point I was still golfing. I used to take lessons. When I heard Bruce, lawyer by day, mayor by night, and he didn’t think golf was that important, I said to myself, I’d rather focus on work and school and hang out in the park instead of golfing.”
Joan Gottschling (Historical Society): “I was seven years old when I came here and I remember SOM when it was two lanes, no sidewalks…. So, the thing that I like is the color green between the yellow and the blue. It made so much sense to me when you explained it. People need to understand that that’s very important, that buffer, and very much appreciated, especially that drunk man’s walkway on SOM. … I’m a trail ambassador and very involved with the North Chagrin and it’s just nice to see the green space continuing through and I hope that buffer will stay.… It brings the kind of people that want to move here that will appreciate that and it won’t be a Mayfield Road.”
Paula Lear: “We moved here in 1971, looking for a good school system, and found it here. I knew about the Village because I lived in Richmond Heights as a teen… we would go horseback riding here. It was always in the back of my mind how beautiful it was here. My kids did wonderfully at the school. My grandsons went to Mayfield. It’s a wonderful place to stay and we do appreciate your dedication. You’ve been a wonderful Mayor. We enjoy all the things that you’ve done. It is a beautiful community… The whole town is wonderful.”
Al Muhle (Historical Society President): “All the members of the Historical Society thank you for all the support you have given us in the past. We thank you for sending couples down here to be married. We love to have the house shown off… All of us appreciate what you have done. My wife Jan has lived in the Village for eight decades. We were married 57 years ago in the Civic Center when it was the church….”
Al Meyers (Resident): I remember when Bruce had the meeting with all the businesses in the Village about his plan and I just looked it up, I found the brochure. I was looking at the vision that you had and if you look, then and now, other than the buildings, it’s just what you wanted. It is beautiful. Thank you for that.
Patsy Mills (Council and Historical Society): “I have been here 52 years and have seen six mayors. I don’t know why Bruce is quitting. It’s not fair. He’d better be on some committees.”
Bob Haycox: “Thank you for the honor of serving on 2020, CAC and Charter Review. I have met a lot of great people, village employees and residents. I have lived here since 1994 so I can tell you how the community has transformed since you have been Mayor. You have transformed it from a great place to live to the best community in all of greater Cleveland. In this political environment, it is unusual, unheard of virtually, that we rescinded term limits so you could continue your vision as Mayor. I am glad we did because you did a tremendous job….”
Mrs. Bodnar read into the record statements provided by members who could not attend tonight’s meeting:
Carole Marrie: “Thank you for the many facilities that you have added to our wonderful Village.”
Sandy Batcheller: “I am glad you had the good foresight for the Village. It is truly a great place to live.”
Kay Phillips: “Your vision has provided the direction and design for Mayfield Village to continue to evolve as an environmentally conscious and aesthetically beautiful, thriving community. The top-notch Village services, the landscaping and interesting curves and angles of pathways and sidewalks throughout the Village, a variety of community spaces, including our enviable trails, bikeways, pool complex, soccer and ballfields, outdoor amphitheater, indoor performing arts center and a new community room give the Village the attractive special appeal for which residents of this fortunate community benefit. Thank you for your effectiveness as Mayor and leading Mayfield Village in an ever-positive direction.”
Mrs. Bodnar thanked everyone for their thoughts and thanked Mayor Rinker for almost 23 years of wonderful governance.
Mr. Lear asked Mayor Rinker why he was stepping down. Mayor Rinker thanked everyone for the things they pointed out that have meant so much to him. “I have told people on a number of occasions that I almost feel guilty. Not for stepping down. I’ve been able to work as Mayor of this community only because I was able to express ideas, share them and had a sense of feedback that gave me confidence that these were ideas that were worth promoting.… People always say they want to give back to a community. To me, it’s always been you want to participate and derive something that is important. I think I have been so fortunate…having the feeling of accomplishment is something that I’ll always have with me. And the feeling of friendships and community, those have meant everything.
“To answer your question, I want to be able to say that the successes that we’ve had can be sustained. The things that we’ve implemented are important enough to people and the way we’ve done it is important enough to people to make it continue. I do think that power is something in our form of government that has to be shared…. For me, the final legacy is this all carries on, that it evolves and that other people have that opportunity to be able to put their stamp on what matters to us all. …Community only thrives if people want it to and make sure that it happens. My Mom used to talk about company, like fish, is good for a day or two. I wanted to leave at a time where people could still shake my hand and say such wonderful things. … I want to enjoy seeing how this continues to evolve. The time is right and it’s an opportune time for us to collectively make sure we conserve what we have and make it expand in ways that matter.”
Mr. Williams reported on the following items:
- The swearing-in of a new Fire Lieutenant, Michael Palumbo;
- The Governor’s Village expansion was recently completed, including 41 additional apartments, a new theatre, a contemplation chapel and a bistro;
- A dozen new businesses have come into the Village this year;
- The Community Room construction is moving forward and going well;
- Parking lot lights for the Civic Center are out for bid and will be on Council’s agenda next week.
Mr. Thomas distributed a flyer and advised the Committee that Mayor Rinker will be leading a walk on the Greenway Trail on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10:00 a.m., meeting at Parkview Pool.
Ms. Wolgamuth advised the Committee that voting on Nov 3 has been moved to the Civic Center due to Community Room construction. The Recreation Halloween party is scheduled for October 24th at the Community Room. Invitations to the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner have been mailed. This year’s event is scheduled for Oct 30 at the River Grove Recreation Area in the Metroparks. River Grove is an indoor, heated shelter with two fireplaces. Ms. Wolgamuth stated that it is a lovely venue.
Mr. Jerome stated that maybe next year the Appreciation event can be held at The Grove.
Mr. Muhle stated that he hoped the Committee would continue to meet annually at the Historical House in the future. “We enjoy having you people here.” He invited the members to stay to tour the house.
Mrs. Bodnar reported that next meeting of the Committee will be held on Monday, Nov 9 at Governor’s Village.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.
Diane Wolgamuth, Director of Administration