Glenda Zumstein, a 49-year-old woman who was disabled nine years ago while on a shift at one of three jobs she worked in order to make the monthly mortgage payments on a small, wood-frame house. It was not a dream house, but it was the fulfillment of a dream that one day, she could raise a family in the house on Blythe Avenue.
From the time she was 19 until she was 40, Zumstein said in a recent interview, she worked long hours to save enough money to buy and make improvements to the house.
She first approached the Council soon after a record-breaking rainfall in September 2011. She approached the elected officials again in December about flooding on her property she said is the transference of stormwater runoff from Blythe-Bower Elementary School. She acknowledged that city crews worked on the problem in past years, but the work was inadequate.
It is a situation Public Works Director Tommy Myers inherited. He diverted crews in 2011 to do minor improvements that would give Zumstein some hoped-for relief until the city could schedule 30 days to make major repairs. Crews dug out an old pond and unplugged a drainage pipe, but Myers said in December it would be springtime before crews could return to do the major work.
In May, Public Works crews replaced the 12-inch metal pipe with a 24-inch plastic pipe, cleaned out the pond and dug a wider channel between the pond and the new pipe. The larger pipe should be large enough for water to flow underground to the other side of the street into an open drainage ditch.
By that time, however, the damage was done. She said black mold, mildew and sinking foundation forced her and her 10-year-old son to move into a rental house.
Zumstein, 49 and divorced, said she bought the little frame house in 1987 so she and her family could have a home. From the time Zumstein was 19 until she was 40, she said she worked two and three jobs a day to make the payments.
“At one time, I worked full time at the post office and Duracell and did property management to be able to keep my house and to repair damage,” she said. “I’ve had to refinance to repair damage and then refinance again to repair more damage.”
According to Zumstein, she has been unable to work since being injured on a job nine years ago. Since then, she has had two neck surgeries and is facing a third. Her health deteriorated further in 2011 when she suffered a stroke.
“The doctor couldn’t say for sure it was because I was worried about the water. If it starts raining at midnight, you’re on guard trying to make sure it doesn’t get into the heat pump,” she said. “But he said the stroke was stress related.
“I’m not physically able and I don’t have the funds to fix something somebody else has created.”
The house was not in a flood plain when she bought it, she said. It could be after the Army Corps of Engineers maps the flood plain in the city.
“We had some trouble when we moved here, but not like this,” she said. She began complaining to the city in the early 1990s “and that’s when they stuck that tile in. At the time they did the school they did the drainage.”
She said the flooding worsened after Blythe Avenue and T.C. Bower were consolidated into Blythe-Bower Elementary School, but she never approached the City Council. She said she “constantly” called Public Works.
All the while, she said the home where she so desperately wanted to raise her family slowly fell apart. Mold and mildew grew inside the walls behind the paneling and wallboard. Cracks line the walls of where the foundation has shifted.
“I replaced the flooring and floor joists in one bedroom twice,” she said. “I replaced the bathroom flooring and walls. I’ve lost one heat pump and the second one is in bad shape. I’ve lost my fencing and all the gravel in my driveway has been washed away. Water runs right through the garage”
She and her husband were still married when Zumstein bought the house. One adult child was raised in the house and she is trying to raise the 10-year-old there.
“I’m trying to finish raising him in this house, but I can’t do it without getting some help to take care of this,” Zumstein said.
The City Council is expected to approve the following consent agenda items:
n Changes to the site plan of Mouse Creek Crossing. The amended plan to the development on Paul Huff Parkway would allow for a grocery store behind Buffalo Wild Wings.
A site plan revision to Mouse Creek Crossing approved by the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission on May 22 shows a grocery store for an unidentified tenant and improvements to Valley Head Road.
The revised plan shows a 53,785 square-foot building west of existing townhomes between Valley Head Road and shops fronting Paul Huff Parkway.
The plan includes 10,000 square feet of additional retail space and more than 320 parking spaces. A new entrance to the development would be located on Valley Head Road, perpendicular to Forestview Drive N.E.
The westbound lane of Valley Head Road will be widened between the entrance and Peerless Road. A sidewalk and right turn lane onto Peerless Road will be added. Widening Valley Head Road requires removing an existing tree line, which will be replaced by new and more desirable trees.
A raised earthen berm will separate the retail development from existing residences on Valley Head Road. A 15-foot wide buffer of trees will be added between the new store and the townhomes.
The original plan showed the store on the west end of the development near Peerless Road. The revision would be nothing more than reorienting the planned position of the building and does not require City Council approval. However, the site revisions do not need Council approval. However, the Council must approve changes to Valley Head Road.
Mouse Creek Crossing is under development as a Planned Unit Development (PUD-2). The purpose of a PUD is to provide flexible land use and design regulations while retaining the City Council’s absolute authority to establish limitations and regulations for the benefit of the public health, welfare and safety.
n The Council is also scheduled to vote on whether or not to commit its 20 percent share of intersection improvements at 25th Street (State Route 60) and Ocoee Street N.E. (State Route 74). The item appeared on the previous agenda but the vote was delayed until Monday. The Tennessee Department of Transportation project to widen and add lanes to ease congested at the busy intersection is in the design stages.
The design shows each of the four legs will have seven lanes, counting a pair of through lanes in each direction, two left-turn lanes and a dedicated right-turn lane.
Preliminary plans also show a retaining wall on the north side of the Walgreens pharmacy, curbs and guttering, sidewalks on each side and an update of the stormwater drainage system.
TDOT’s acquisition division could begin buying right of way in January 2013. Final construction plans are scheduled for release in March 2013, with construction beginning in the summer 2013.
n Another issued that arose during the June 25 meeting could be decided if the Council approves changes in pet adoption fees.
Under the current fee structure, veterinarians or their association are to bill the city up to $90 for each animal spayed or neutered under the city's adoption program. The city remits $10 to the association for each rabies vaccination administered at the Cleveland Animal Shelter.
The proposed change requires adoptive owners of animals to select a veterinarian of choice. A fee schedule will be provided at the animal shelter. The owner will pay any additional fee charged by the selected veterinarian up to a maximum of adoption fee of $90. The veterinarian will bill the city up to $50 for each animal adopted under the city's adoption program. The $50 fee would cover spaying or neutering an animal, first vaccination, de-worming, physical examination and rabies vaccination.
Participating veterinarians will continue to visit the animal shelter on Tuesday and Friday of each week to provide rabies shots and any needed care for the animals. The city will remit $10 to the veterinarian or the veterinarian association for rabies vaccinations administered at the shelter. Participating veterinarians will also provide emergency after-hours care for injured animals.
n The last of the four consent agenda items authorizes Mayor Tom Rowland to submit an application for a "Safety Partners" Loss Control Matching Grant through the Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool.
The $2,000 matching grant would help fund the city’s safety program. The purpose of the grant is to promote a safe workplace.