Euclid residents air concerns at community listening event
On a quiet Saturday afternoon, 60-70 Euclid residents came to Shore Cultural Center to talk about and be heard regarding common problems and challenges facing the community at a forum sponsored by husband and wife activists Victor Goodman and Audrey Kaplan. As a panel of Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail, Police Chief Scott Meyer, Captain Jeff Cutwright and Euclid City Schools Interim superintendent Christopher Papouras listened to residents’ concerns, several themes bubbled to the surface.
Goodman set the stage for the open microphone event that allowed residents up to five minutes of time to address any topic of personal interest. However, Goodman made it clear to everyone in attendance that topics related to the upcoming election were strictly off limits. With several candidate forums and other election-related venues for residents, Kaplan said there were enough opportunities for voters to hear from candidates or discuss ballot issues. “We wanted to bring people together,” said Kaplan.
Residents young and old voiced concerns about neighbors who demonstrate behaviors ranging from drug dealing to unkempt homes, loud parties or repeatedly blowing off fireworks. Some mentioned the high number of renters as a problem while others cited lax enforcement of housing and rental regulations. One speaker urged citizens to take a roll in voicing issues to City officials.
Mayor Gail and Chief Meyer responded to issues, urging residents to contact police or city officials to make them aware of specific homes that were problematic. Several times the Mayor or Police Chief asked for specific addresses that were mentioned by speakers.
Another hot topic raised at the meeting was problems with groups of teens that walk in streets or hang out at the library often intimidating people in cars.
Residents living near Euclid Avenue were vocal about the lack of attention the area receives in comparison to areas along the lake. Complaining of a lack of investment by the city, poor retail options and a street in disrepair, they called on City officials to focus on the need to revitalize the area. Mayor Gail commented that the western end of Euclid Avenue is slated to be resurfaced in the near future.
“We get seven planters in the summer and that’s it. I don’t understand how (the Administration) hasn’t done more,” complained one resident who lives near Euclid Avenue.
Other frequently addressed topics discussed in the meeting included:
- Litter and trash – Cited repeatedly by speaker after speaker, residents complained about trash being thrown on the street. One person relayed a story of confronting someone who threw trash from their car. Mayor Gail lamented that she has repeatedly approach the CVS in Downtown Euclid about the issue.
- Euclid school performance – A hotly debated and sometimes contentious topic as several speakers mentioned the lack of progress made by the schools in improving their standing. One resident, Euclid School Board Member Angie Lisy, provided an opposing point of view based on her experience with her four children.
- Green Space – Several speakers advocated for more green space, or effective use of available space for public use in the city.
- Minority officers – While staffing of the police department was touched on briefly, Chief Meyer stated that Euclid is trying to add minority officer to the department. Euclid currently has 17 minority officers, with one planned addition. That represents about 19% of the total police force who are classified as minorities.
Held September 28, the two hour event was the first gathering like this in 12 years for Euclid. Goodman said he organized the first community listening event years ago after Euclid faced a critical time. He felt Euclid is once again at a critical juncture and needed an event like this in order to come together as a community.
Billed as an opportunity to discuss topics of importance to Euclid residents, the event was largely cordial as residents expressed their view with City, Police and School representatives listened and responded to the issues raised. The only combative point came as the last speaker, Christopher Michael Litwinowicz took the microphone. Litwinowicz, a mayoral candidate who frequently appears at public events, began with a series of random, sometimes rambling statements. As his speech progressed he began to take verbal shots and the Administration with veiled comments about the pending election. Sensing a campaign speech, Goodman urged Litwinowicz to avoid making any election related comments. Litwinowicz continued before being stopped as Goodman shouted him down. A fellow organizer urged Litwinowicz to leave the microphone and ended the session.
Someone who lives in Euclid, enjoys writing and wants to stay informed. My wife and I have two children and live in the northeast part of the City. We are active in many Euclid activities.