Cudell Improvement celebrates its first annual meeting since forming Strategic Alliance with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization

by Victoria Shea

(Plain Press, April 2019)    Sponsored by Third Federal Saving’s and Loan, Cudell Improvement once again held their Annual Meeting on Saturday, Feb. 23. It was their first since the Strategic Alliance took effect back in July 2018.

In his speech, Matt Zone, councilman for Ward 15, acknowledged that it has been a “pleasure and an honor” serving the Cudell neighborhood, addressing the neighborhood’s “proud history and amazing leaders.”

“There are some really exciting things happening in our neighborhood,” Zone said, before he spoke about the opening of the new Dog Kennel at W. 93 and Detroit. Starting at a cost of 4.9 million dollars, Zone announced that when the kennel opened on March 7, the cost would be 7.3 million dollars. He explained that while the cost was high, he told his colleagues that, “We only get to do this once, we need to do it right.”

In his keynote address, Lucky’s Market store director Bob Knaus echoed Zone’s speech about the exciting things happening in the neighborhood, citing the market’s successful year while commenting that the neighborhood has been fantastic and great.

The Edgewater community is “gorgeous and really, really impressive,” Knaus said. “Our policy is take care of community and take care of team members and the rest is good to go.”

One way of taking care of the community, Knaus said, is by being affordable while having cultural heritage foods that are fresh and made daily. In addition, Knaus said, he wants Lucky’s to help in community impact by having Lucky’s be a “gathering place and a resource for healthy foods.”

Another way Lucky’s impacts the community is by their community programs, said Knaus. The store’s Bags for Change program is an incentive for customers to bring their own reusable bags. By doing that, Knaus said customers are given a wooden dime to donate. The store’s other program is 10 percent off, where, quarterly, the store selects a day when it offers 10 percent off. The funds from the sales from that day and the Bags for Change program are donated to non-profits.

Managing Director Jenny Spencer presented a slide show presentation on the updates of what the staff has been working on since the forming of the Strategic Alliance back in July. According to Spencer, in the Cudell and Edgewater neighborhoods, the population is approximately 15,000 neighbors. The population of Detroit Shoreway, she continued, is approximately 11,000.

The neighborhoods are diverse and “we’re mindful of that too,” Spencer said. “[We’re] meeting the community where it is; meeting people where they are in their lives; and acknowledging strengths in each of the three neighborhoods.”

Code enforcement work has also been a concern of Cudell, Spencer said, explaining that they are doing enforcement via “concentrated inspection zones.” Having finished the first zone, which was from W. 83 Street to W. 93 Street, and from Madison Avenue to I-90, Spencer said that 723 properties were surveyed. Of those surveyed properties, 146 notices were sent out and 300 thank you letters were sent, thanking people who were up to code.

Spencer said that the next zone inspection would take place in March and cover the area of W. 93 Street to W. 100 Street, and from Madison Avenue to I-90.

Spencer also addressed the new changes that Economic Development and Marketing Coordinator Jessica Trivisonno has made, including the new Cudell Improvement website ( In addition to the website, Trivisonno has updated the bi-weekly e-newsletter which currently has 623 subscribers.

Trivisonno has also created a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Spencer also spoke about the Edgewater Street Festival which is replacing the Clifton Arts and Music Festival, being held on Sunday, June 30.

The last topic Spencer spoke about was safety and the work Christopher Brown was doing. “What Christopher does is create a culture of responsiveness and prompt service supporting the community and their needs.” Spencer said.

Brown achieves this, she said, by the close relationship that Cudell Improvement has with Cleveland Police 1stDistrict and its commander, Daniel Fay. In addition, Brown attends the monthly 1stDistrict community meetings; created a crime database for the neighborhood; and works with neighborhood engagement officers. He also helps with resident-led cleanups as well as Court Community Service cleanups.

Lastly, Spencer focused on Brown’s effort with graffiti sweeps. “Since July, Christopher reported 53 incidents of graffiti,” Spencer said. “19 of which have been handled already.”

Starting the award’s presentation, Councilman Zone presented a Service Award to the West Edge Community Group for their Autumn Street Festival. “This is what builds community,” Zone said of the event.

Zone also awarded a Service Award to Willie Lawson for his work at Cudell recreation center.

Accepting the Excellence in Government Award was 1stDistrict Commander Daniel Fay. Fay said he was accepting the award “on behalf of the men and women of 1stDistrict. For me, it’s not about me; it’s about the officers.”

Presenting the Walter and Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award, Wally Martens acknowledged Jeanette Toms, a former employee of Cudell Improvement and the owner of Good Earth Farm. Martens said “Cudell Improvement Inc. thanks you for your dedication and your career of service to the people of Cudell.”

His last Annual Meeting serving as President for Cudell Improvement, Dan Berry announced the results of the election. Board members Charles Slone and Jerry Schmeltzer will remain on the board with Slone serving as Board President. Jeff Blazek was newly elected as a board member.

Mr. Martin giving award
Saturday, February 23, 2019; Cudell Improvement Annual Meeting, Brennan’s Banquet Center, 13000 Triskett Road: (L-R) Norm Toms, Jeanette Toms and Walter Martens Jr. Cudell Improvement Board of Directors member Walter Martens Jr. presents the Walter and Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award to Jeanette Toms of Good Earth Farm located at 9600 Madison Avenue.
Police speaker
Saturday, February 23, 2019; Cudell Improvement Annual Meeting, Brennan’s Banquet Center, 13000 Triskett Road: First District Commander Daniel Fay, recipient of the Good Government Award, shares some thoughts with those in attendance.

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