Recent Meeting Documents
The proposed Central Park lease has generated a great amount of attention among Eastlake residents.
Here's the publicly available information:
- Eastlake's Central Park is seven-acre, publicly-owned park property located between the Eastlake Community Center and Washington Elementary School, and is accessed from Roberts Road (Google Map link).
- The Mayor and City Council approved legislation (Resolution 2016-022, PDF) to lease the seven-acre park to the American-Croatian Lodge ("ACL") for $1 per year to build a private soccer facility to be used primarily by the Croatia Juniors, a soccer league affiliated with the ACL.
- City government did not advertise publicly for bids or park redevelopment proposals, as many residents and former members of Council argue is required by state and local law (Ohio Rev. Code 721.03 and City Charter, Section X-8).
- Residents have received only vague promises that a small portion of the park will still be usable to the public, and no reliable to-scale site plan or budget was ever submitted by the ACL.
- According to the lease agreement, the ACL may charge unknown fees to residents to use any portion of the soccer facility that is built.
- Residents do not believe that this lease agreement benefits the public, especially considering that taxpayer funds were used to obtain the property and maintain it.
- Some Councilmembers feel that it is proper to lease away public land to private interests because voters rejected a recreation levy in 2013 to publicly-fund the pool at Jakse Park, even when residents have volunteered to maintain Central Park (i.e., mow the grass) at no-cost to the City.
- Oct. 20, 2015: Proposed American-Croatian Lodge (ACL) lease to build two soccer fields first mentioned in passing during Finance Committee meeting.
- Nov. 10, 2015: Lease mentioned again in passing during Council meeting.
- Dec. 1, 2015: First version of proposed lease released. First letter in opposition submitted to Council before Finance Committee meeting. Lease discussed in detail (MP3) during Finance Committee meeting. Proposed site plan now includes five soccer fields. Committee members agree to send to full Council for approval.
- Dec. 2, 2015: Second letter in opposition sent to the News-Herald and Council. Roberts Road property owners notified by concerned residents.
- Dec. 8, 2015: Full Council sends lease back to committee during Council meeting. A Roberts Road resident voices concern about proposed lease during meeting.
- Jan. 12, 2016: Councilmember Hoefle asks to reconsider the lease.
- Feb. 12, 2016: Second version of proposed lease released.
- Feb. 19, 2016: Third letter in opposition submitted to Council before Feb. 22 Finance Committee meeting.
- Feb. 20, 2016: Council President Laura DePledge responds to third opposition letter indicating support for proposed lease.
- Feb. 22, 2016: Lease discussed again in detail (MP3) during Finance Committee meeting. Numerous questions asked by several concerned residents. No residents in support attend. Committee members again agree to send to full Council for approval.
- Mar. 8, 2016: Full Council puts the revised ACL lease on first of three readings (3/8, 3/22, 4/12) to allow for public input.
- Mar. 30, 2016: The News-Herald publishes an article about the City's proposed lease with the American-Croatian Lodge.
- Mar. 31, 2016: Residents circulate an online petition at Change.org demanding that "the City (1) reject or table Pending Legislation 03-08-(01) authorizing City officials to enter into a lease agreement with the ACL, (2) advertise publicly for proposals to redevelop Central Park for at least five weeks, (3) fully consider all proposals and public comment related to any proposal, and (4) select a proposal that most benefits the public."
- Mar. 31, 2016: Council President Laura DePledge responds to a resident's comments about the proposed ACL lease and the online petition.
- Mar. 31–Apr. 2, 2016: Residents debate the subject of Central Park and the proposed ACL lease for three days in the largest community Facebook group, "Eastlake Community Blockwatch." Several councilmembers (Kasunick, Meyers, Evers) comment on the issue.
- Apr. 1, 2016: First mention of the proposed ACL lease in the Eastlake Gazette by Councilmember Spotton (Ward 4): "Also before Council has been a land lease with the American-Croatian Lodge and the City. The lease would include the land between the E-Pal center (old community center) and Washington Elementary School. The American-Croatian Lodge would be using this property to build new soccer fields." However, there is no mention that the final vote takes place on April 12.
- Apr. 1, 2016: The City finally posts the Dec. 1, 2015 Finance Committee meeting minutes online where the proposed ACL lease was first discussed in detail. (Site history on Mar. 31, 2016 shows that the Dec. 1, 2015 minutes were not yet posted online.) Feb. 22, 2016 Finance Committee meeting minutes where the proposed ACL lease was discussed again in detail are not yet released in any form.
- April 8, 2016: Residents request clarification from Eastlake Law Director Randy Klammer regarding whether the City was in compliance with state and local laws in its attempt to lease public property.
- April 8, 2016: Eastlake Community Partners (ECP), a non-profit formed by a group of Eastlake residents, meets with Mayor Morley and Service Director Rubertino. ECP members continue to urge the Mayor to reconsider the proposed ACL lease and advertise publicly for redevelopment proposals to ensure fairness and that the park redevelopment benefits the public. No agreement is reached.
- April 11, 2016: ECP is given only three hours to submit an alternative proposal for Central Park as a condition to postponing Council's vote. An alternative proposal is submitted at the deadline that focuses on keeping Central Park free and open to the residents. ECP again demands that the City advertise publicly for redevelopment proposals.
- April 12, 2016: Before a packed City Hall, Council immediately sends the proposed ACL lease back to Finance Committee for a third round of discussion, effectively postponing the vote. Residents submit to Council the online petition after being signed by 200 people and receiving more than 50 comments. Four residents speak during public comment against the proposed lease and the City's failure to advertise publicly for proposals. (Listen to meeting audio recording.)
- April 13, 2016: The News-Herald publishes a second article summarizing the Council meeting.
- April 19, 2016: Twenty residents show up to the Finance Committee meeting (audio recording MP3) in opposition to the ACL lease. The Committee votes to table the lease for another two weeks hoping that ECP and the ACL can reach a compromise.
- April 21, 2016: The News-Herald publishes a third article summarizing the Finance Committee meeting.
- May 3, 2016: Finance Committee meets again and Councilmembers Zuren and Hoefle refer the ACL lease to Council's May 10 meeting and recommend passage (audio recording MP3). The proposed ACL lease apparently was amended again, but has not been released to the public.
- May 4, 2016: The News-Herald publishes a fourth article summarizing the Finance Committee meeting.
- May 10, 2016: Council passes Resolution No. 2016-022 to lease Central Park to the American-Croatian Lodge at its regularly scheduled Council Meeting (video recording). Council released a copy of the newly-amended lease less than five hours before the regularly-scheduled Council meeting.
- May 11, 2016: The News-Herald publishes a fifth article reporting on Council's passage of the Central Park lease agreement. The print version of the article erroneously reported that the ACL would spend $3 million for its private soccer facility on the publicly-owned property, but that portion of the article was immediately retracted. The article also incorrectly reports that the Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library leases office space in City Hall for only $1 per year, but this has not been corrected by the newspaper.
- June 8, 2016: Residents submit a referendum petition to repeal the legislation permitting the American-Croatian Lodge to lease Central Park. 768 signatures were collected.
- July 5, 2016: The Lake County Board of Elections notified petition circulators that enough signatures were collected for placement on the November 2016 ballot.