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Interest in Ohio City Inc.’s board of trustees election draws crowd to annual meeting at Breen Center

Interest in Ohio City Inc.’s board of trustees election draws crowd to annual meeting at Breen Center

by Renee Borghesi

(Plain Press, May 2012) The Breen Center at St. Ignatius High School was brimming with Ohio City residents for the Annual Meeting of Ohio City, Inc. on Wednesday night. Earlier in the day of April 18th, residents were voting on four new Board of Trustees members, by-laws, and a neighborhood improvement project. As the voting continued at the Breen Center later that night, the lobby became crowded with lines of voters, the mingling of friends and neighbors, and those enjoying the food brought in by Soho, the new restaurant on West 25th Street. 

President of the Ohio City, Inc. Board of Trustees Damon Taseff kicked off the evening by naming the ways the city has recently come together to promote change. From the Market Square renovations, establishing SID (Service Improvement District), turning the empty space on West 25th where Moda once stood to Mitchell’s Ice cream, and the city’s first Easter Egg Roll, Ohio City has been changing for the better.

 “In 2012 let us make this a safer neighborhood.” Ward 3 Councilman Joe Cimperman declared. “Let us make us a healthier neighborhood, let us make this a more cohesive neighborhood, and a neighborhood that serves and houses and loves anyone…”

Indeed, Ohio City is on its way. Potholes are being fixed; landscaping is being done; the West Side Market is hosting the International Market Conference; and, even in troubling economic times, more businesses are popping up in the city.

Eric Wobster, Executive Director of Ohio City, Inc., said in the last two years thirty new businesses have started up in Ohio City, which he dubbed “the small business capital of Cleveland”. The thirty businesses joined 200 locally owned businesses in the neighborhoods, creating 400 jobs. According to Wobster, there are also over 50 non-profit agencies in Ohio City.

Taseff remarked that voting during the day alone was double the total last year. As the ballots were being counted, local people and businesses were recognized.

A number of awards to Ohio City residents were handed out, from Joy Machine’s Alex Nosse to St. Patrick’s Deacon Bill Merriman. In addition, five Ohio City Neighborhood Award Winners were announced via video. Joel Elvery and Lynn Phares won the Arts & Culture Award for their Mechanic Street House Concert, Crop Bistro received the Commercial Preservation Award, the West Side Market Tenants Association won the Legacy Award, Alex Gleason (Old Angle) won the Residential Preservation Award, and the Presidents Award went to LAND studio. The video can be found on Ohio City Inc.’s website at

Results came in early the next morning. The four newly elected members to the Board of Trustees are Octavia Davis, Dolores “Lola” Garcia Prignitz, Al Mancuso, and Erick McLaughlin.

Davis is an Ordained Minister of Mount Zion Fellowship of Savior Church and a member of the Neighborhood Voices Coalition. Prignitz, a volunteer for Minds Matter Cleveland, won another term on the Board. Former president of the Parish Assembly (Council) and Near West Theater volunteer Mancuso won a spot on the board. The fourth spot went to McLaughlin, an active West 38th Street resident and employee of University Circle, Inc.

The winner of funds for a neighborhood improvement project was the Ohio City Tee Ball League Equipment and Shed. This is the first tee ball league and it will kick off Saturday, June 16th at Fairview Park. The League serves children on the Near West Side. The Tee Ball League equipment and shed beat out other neighborhood projects that aimed to continue the beautification of Lorain Avenue bus shelters with local images that showcase the city’s diversity, and the expansion of pubic art at Dunbar and Orchard Elementary schools.

Four by-laws were also voted on. The decision to extend membership application deadlines and nominations for Trustee applications that fall on a weekend or holiday to the next business day was approved, along with allowing the Board to meet in an executive session upon a majority vote of Trustees present. The by-law that would allow Board members to vote on any resolution by secret ballot upon motion and three affirmative votes by Trustees was rejected.

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