WINDOW ON MAIN STREET, BY BARBARA CHRISTIAN
Police station on deck -- or not
A thus-far anonymous Chagrin Falls citizens group began sending angry e-mail alerts to area media last week, the object of their ire being Village Council's plan to build a combination police station and public parking deck on the village-owned portion of the Chagrin Falls Shopping Plaza parking lot.
The four-floor concept, jokingly dubbed "dicks on decks," has police operations occupying the first two floors with 200 dollar-an-hour metered parking spaces on the two upper levels.
As you may recall, voters were unhappy about building a new police station on Solon Road and twice turned down bond issues at the polls.
It has been theorized that the additional, much-needed parking paired with an equally much-needed police station, which would stay in the center of town, would sweeten the request while solving two major problems at once.
News of the "two-fer" project was leaked to the public last week, drawing fire from one e-mailer who threatened "a massive push back from a committed group of villagers using all means possible" to derail the plan.
Discussions of the plan nimbly sidestepped sunshine law rules when Mayor Thomas Brick met privately with the unelected parking commission.
"Council then discussed what we came up with in 'onesy-twosy' fashion in calls and e-mails between no more than two elected officials at a time. It was like that old game of 'telephone' we played as kids," the mayor related.
Yet unknown is how much residential and commercial property owners will be asked to kick in for the project, although commission member Henry Piper, an architect and longtime advocate of a parking structure, has already offered his services free to the village to offset the overall expense.
Sensitive to the historic plaza buildings around the proposed "dicks on decks" project, Mr. Piper said his design will pay homage to the mid-century "post-war Eisenhower era when nothing happened and everyone was happy about it." We're all hoping everyone will be happy about this too, once it's built."
Police Chief James Brosius jokingly noted that having metered parking in the same place as the police station would "be shooting fish in a barrel," because it will be easy to monitor and ticket meter violators. "But don't say I said that," the chief warned.
To maximize revenues, Mr. Brosius said he plans to have every police department employee -- dispatchers and secretaries alike -- carry citation books with them at all times so they can write tickets when they see violators.
Questioned about the citizens push-back group, one council member, under promise of anonymity, said, "These people complain about parking, but when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is, we get grief." He said council has discussed seeking help from the Washington, D.C., consultants who successfully strategized passage of the health-care-reform bill.
"Health care, lack of parking and squeezed police facilities have a lot in common when you come down to it," Mr. Brick stated. "You need health, safety and ease of parking to be a happy person and a well-rounded community." Those wishing to get involved with the citizens opposition group can call (800) DECKNOT. Those wishing to work for passage of the project may call (800) FORDICKS. Before dialing, readers are advised to check the date at the top of this page.