Cudell Board addresses a variety of issues as it proceeds with Strategic Alliance

by Chuck Hoven

(January 2019, Plain Press)           At the December meeting of the Cudell Improvement Incorporated Board of Trustees, board members discussed the organization’s budget; its real estate holdings; its contract with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) for the Strategic Alliance; the difficulty in getting enough board members to the meeting for a quorum; and the closing of the office on Lorain Avenue due to a staff member finding another job.

Cudell Improvement Board Treasurer Michael Flickinger said the organization no longer had any employees except one part time person. “We are contracting with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.” Flickinger said Cudell Improvement has been unable to get an adequate financial statement from DSCDO as to its expenses incurred in the contract. Flickinger said that, over the next six months, the primary expenses by Cudell Improvement will be payments due on the contract with DSCDO. He said four payments were required by the contract. Two have already been paid. Additional payments are due on January 1 and April 1st.

Flickinger said he inquired about credits due to Cudell Improvement for certain things agreed to in the contract that were not done. However, he said DSCDO Executive Director Jeff Ramsey told him that the rate for the contract does not vary. A credit is not possible. The contract will be reviewed in April. Flickinger said he was told that, if Cudell Improvement’s payment is one dime lower than the amount agreed upon, the organization will be in default.

Flickinger, who also sits on the Cudell Improvement Real Estate Committee, reported on some of the properties Cudell Improvement owns. Flickinger said Cudell Improvement was working in partnership with a contractor to rehab a house at 11208 Lake Avenue. He described the house as having “classy” fixtures. The expectation, he said, is that the house, when rehabbed, will command a price point near $450,000. Board President Dan Berry asked if the house could be turned over to the contractor now. Flickinger said he thought Cudell Improvement would make more profit if it waited for the rehab to be completed. Former Cudell Improvement Executive Director Anita Brindza, in attendance at the meeting, noted that the property, which originally came from the landbank and is under the stipulations of the landbank, can’t be sold without an occupancy permit.

Flickinger said that no other properties Cudell Improvement owns, will be sold unless an appraisal is completed first so that market value can be compared to appraised value. He said some companies have expressed interest in some parcels, and recommended waiting for larger scale development. Among Cudell’s properties mentioned are commercial properties on Lorain Avenue; an orchard near W. 85thbetween Franklin and Detroit Avenue; and a property on Madison Avenue.

Flickinger also commented on the difficulty of getting enough Cudell Improvement Board members to come to the meeting to have a quorum. He said that all have received notices. For three months, Cudell Improvement’s Board has not been able to achieve a quorum. The next meeting will be on January 8that 5:45 a.m.

A number of the board members live or work in areas that will no longer be served by Cudell due to the terms of the Strategic Alliance.

The new boundaries of Cudell Improvement consist of areas of the Edgewater and Cudell neighborhoods that are in Cleveland City Council Ward 15. Areas in those neighborhoods and lie outside of Ward 15, and are in Council Ward 11 will be served by Westown Community Development Corporation. As for the West Boulevard Neighborhood: the area South of I-90,  served by Cudell Improvement for many years – the parts of that neighborhood that are in Ward 11, will be served by Westown. The areas in Ward 14 will be served by MetroWest Community Development Organization.

The former office of Cudell Improvement on Lorain Avenue is no longer in the organization’s service area. Board President Dan Berry said that Cudell Improvement Office Manager Linda Giermann has accepted a new position at Community Housing Solutions. So the office on Lorain Avenue will no longer be staffed.

Cudell Improvement and DSCDO Managing Director Jenny Spencer in her report offered a possible date and time for Cudell Improvement’s Annual Arts and Music Festival next summer. More immediately she noted the date for Cudell Improvement’s Annual meeting at Brennan’s Party Center is set for February 23rdat 12:30 p.m.

There was some discussion about getting an up to date membership list prior to the annual meeting in order to know who can vote for new board members.

Spencer talked about ways to reach the staff assigned to work in the Cudell and Edgewater neighborhoods. She said a staff member is working to get the old Cudell phone number to ring through to the DSCDO office so calls can be transferred. She said there are two Cudell Facebook pages. She said the Cudell and Edgewater Community Page will be dedicated to individuals in the neighborhood. The Cudell Improvement Inc. Page will be used by staff to communicate with the community. The newsletter, Cudell Snippets will continue.

Spencer announced two grants that are the first ever joint grants received by the Strategic Alliance partners DSCDO and Cudell Improvement. The Neighborhood Solutions grants from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Cleveland Foundation, Gund Foundation and St. Luke’s Foundation will be dedicated to Equitable Civic Engagement in two target areas one in the DSCDO service area and one in the area south of Madison in the Cudell neighborhood.

It was also announced that Cleveland Foundation which had consistently given $30,000 to the Cudell Improvement Inc MyCom youth program would only provide $15,000 this year. Cudell Improvement board members indicated that Cleveland Foundation informed them this would be the last MyCom grant as it is shifting funding to Say Yes to Cleveland. Cudell Improvement Vice President Brian Jereb said Cleveland Foundation was the major source of funds for MyCom. He said Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone has pledged to support the organization.

Other items discussed included an upcoming planning meeting for the Cudell Improvement Orchard and an effort to address crime and quality of life issues at the Dairy Mart at 8808 Detroit Avenue.

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