Fivas explains Magnolia action

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 7/31/20

Cleveland City Manager Joe Fivas visited with a group of elderly residents of North Cleveland Towers Thursday afternoon, the group opposed to the Cleveland City Council's vote Monday to close …

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Fivas explains Magnolia action

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Cleveland City Manager Joe Fivas visited with a group of elderly residents of North Cleveland Towers Thursday afternoon, the group opposed to the Cleveland City Council's vote Monday to close Magnolia Avenue on the Lee University campus, the street in front of the adult housing complex.

It quickly became evident the residents are not only opposed to the closing of Magnolia Avenue, and a section of an adjacent street, but frustrated by Lee University students, and the distinct generation gap.

Their complaints ranged from students crossing campus roadways "without looking," being connected to ear buds and being a hazard in traffic, a lack of respect for the elderly, parking in the Tower's parking lots, and even the scarcity of clothing for some young ladies.

"They go to Lee University, and they think they're entitled. They even act entitled," said one elderly woman.

The closing of Magnolia Avenue was approved by all but one councilman (Charlie McKenzie) on Monday, but it was only a portion of the discussion  between the Cleveland Tower residents, Fivas and Corey Divel, Cleveland senior planner. Magnolia will be closed directly in front of North Cleveland Towers, and there is a short section of 13th Street to be closed from Magnolia west to Parker.

It is anticipated a walking path will be created along the the west side of Magnolia south to 13th Street, and other points on campus.

Fivas pointed out that much of the problem, in the eyes of the residents and the city, is the numerous students who walk from student housing to the north beyond the old Mayfield School, along Magnolia, to commute to classes.

Once this section of Magnolia is closed, there will be no traffic or parking on the street, which officials hope will improve the situation for pedestrians.

Fivas admitted the city has not been informed by Lee University of its design plan for this section of the campus, or the roadways being closed.

The residents were mildly surprised that the city council has taken action to close the roadway, without apparent knowledge or understanding of Lee's design plan for the property.

The residents were not easily satisfied with all of Fivas' answers to their inquiries.

Jean Croghan said Thursday's question and answer session should have happened first, before the council's action Monday. Fivas and Divel later pointed out some residents did attend a Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission meeting where Magnolia Avenue was discussed.

Fivas fielded several questions about the eventual design plan for the area around the Towers. One was for the installation of crosswalks. Another was that 13th Street needs to be one way, that the Cleveland Police Department needs to monitor the walking students (and issue tickets), that designated exits from the Tower parking lots be created, that Peoples Street be widened, and that some directional signs for Cleveland Towers be strategically placed.

Halfway through Thursday's discussion, Fivas said, "What I'm hearing is interaction between you residents and Lee students is lacking. Is it as important as the street situation?"

He did not get a reponse, but he did receive some additional comments.

"They believe if they go to Lee, they get what they want. They think we're minions," one resident said.

Another said they realize there are some exceptional students at Lee, and they're acquainted with a few.

"But, most feel they're entitled, and they act like it."

One person said they need to outlaw listening devices, such as the ear buds being used by the students as they walk through the campus.

"It's against the law to text and drive. So, what about walking?" the same woman asked.

Another woman felt she might become lost.

"How will my family find me, when the street that was there, is no longer there?" she asked.

Some other inquiries were seeking information. Reuben Hiatt asked if Lee University owned Magnolia Avenue. He was told the university will eventually own the property, as the city proceeds with closure action.

Fivas and Divel informed the residents they will be contacting Lee University's Human Relations people to share the notes they took Thursday, and the concerns of residents.

"Perhaps we can obtain a design plan on what they're thinking (which we can share) with you," he said. "Then hopefully you won't feel beseiged, or be as concerned, if we can share that."

The city officials plan to meet with the North Cleveland Tower residents again in two to three weeks.

"Our intentions are to make it safe, and the best it can be," said Fivas in closing. "When it's finished, I think you'll like it."

The residents were ready for agreement, leaving with a "wait and see" attitude.

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