LORAIN — Two quality of life improvement ordinances and restoration of a former Carnegie Library were approved by City Council members Monday.
Owners of businesses or homes will be fined $25 when the police or fire departments have to respond to more than three false alarms at their properties in a year. Owners face $50 fines for the seventh and eighth false alarms in less than a year and $100 for each false alarm after the eighth in less than a year.
The fines, approved unanimously, are designed to keep firefighters and police from wasting time. Mayor Chase Ritenauer said in some instances, police have responded a dozen times to false alarms at the same location in a month.
Council also approved a 90-day limit on the use of tarps during building repairs. The ordinance, designed to speed repairs, includes a one-time, 30 day extension. However, Councilman Eddie Edwards, D-5th Ward, argued the ordinance punishes property owners making a good faith effort to do repairs but struggling to afford them.
Councilman Dan Given, D- at large, countered that the limit would encourage owners to make timely repairs. Violators would not face specific fines but could be prosecuted for non-compliance. “This is about holding people responsible for their properties so the city does not continue to deteriorate to the point of no return,” Given said.
Given, Council members Brian Gates, D-1st Ward; Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward; Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward; Richard Lucente, D-6th Ward; Myroslaw “Mickey” Silecky, D-7th Ward; Frank DeTilio, D-8th Ward; and at-large members Anne Molnar and Tony Richardson voted yes. Edwards and Councilman Tim Howard, D-4th Ward, voted no.
Council unanimously approved turning the Streator Building, a former Carnegie Library, over to the nonprofit Black River Historical Society and spending $65,000 in federal taxpayer grant money to renovate it. The building in Streator Park at West 10th Street and Lexington Avenue is named after Worthy Streator a 19th century doctor, industrialist, railroad developer, Ohio state senator and mayor of East Cleveland.
The 9,000-square-foot building was one of 2,509 Carnegie Libraries built worldwide. It closed as a library in 1957 and housed city equipment until being vacated a few years ago. The building will be converted into a museum by the society, Ritenauer said.
In other business:
- n A $1.2 million new software purchase was unanimously approved. About $1.1 million of the software will be used by departments throughout the city, including the auditor’s office. Nearly $111,000 is for tax collection software for the Treasurer’s Department.
- n Council approved a reorganization of Ritenauer’s staff in the wake of Friday’s resignation of Geoff Smith as human resources/risk management director. Chief of Staff Derek Feuerstein will assume Smith’s duties. Leon Mason moves from executive assistant to Safety-Service Director Robert Fowler to the newly created deputy safety service director for community programs and affairs. Mason assumes Feuerstein’s constituent service duties. Michelle Beko, an assistant to Law Director Pat Riley, takes Mason’s former job. Ritenauer said the changes will save between $15,000 and $20,000 annually. Edwards, Gates and Lucente voted no.
- n Authorization to seek bids for a new garbage collection contract was approved. The authorization was prompted in part by an April strike by workers from the current collector, Republic Services, whose contract expires Dec. 31. The strike led to collection delays and city employees and Ritenauer collecting garbage April 20 and 21.
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