Déjà vu! There was something familiar about last week’s Candidate’s Night in Chagrin Falls. Predictable might be a better word to describe it.
The location in the Hamlet Village Atrium was the same, the politeness of the League of Women Voters non-debate style format was the same, some of the candidates were the same as the last go around and the questions to council candidates were the same too.
Parking and traffic is one such perennial favorite. The answer to the “what are you going to do about it” question is always “we are working on it, we continue to make improvements but Chagrin Falls was built for horses and carriages not cars and trucks.”
There is only one real solution to the parking crunch and the traffic jams, and it is something no one really wants. Chagrin Falls becomes so difficult to deal with that shops close, businesses leave, property values plummet and it becomes a ghost town. But then, what candidate is going to propose that as a solution to parking problems and traffic jams?
Then there was the “better communications” between the village and residents’ question. We thank the candidate who gave a shout out to “our cherished local, newspaper” as one source of information, but let’s not confuse it with the public relations arm of village government. Always paired with “better communications” is the word “transparency” which is the more polite way of saying “if I didn’t hear about it then the village must be hiding something from us.”
We aren’t saying this has never happened in the history of Chagrin Falls government, even recent history. But the questioner hinting at some unspecified shenanigans is neither revealing nor helpful.
Another classic question is what can be done to save Chagrin’s old houses, which are inevitably replaced by big new ones that do not represent the “historic fabric of the village.”
While the answers are thoughtful and empathetic, and while the candidates agree saving historic homes is crucial and maintaining a varied of housing stock for people of all financial means is important, the old abodes keep tumbling down and the braggartly big ones continue to rise in their place.
Speaking of which, candidate’s night did make a little news. The question was asked if the village was going to do anything about the relocation or demise of one of the village’s oldest, most historic houses to make way for a new house or houses.
We checked. The house at Main and Summit has not yet been sold. The developer is in the “due diligence” phase and under advice from its lawyer, council cannot discuss it until there is a formal action by the purchaser.
This will be viewed as an example of behind the back shenanigans we talked about earlier.
Here’s the thing, we live under a representational form of government. Spoon feeding every piece of legislation and discussion from each open meeting is not one of the rules. Citizen participation is encouraged, however.
A schedule of committee and commission meetings is also posted on the official website www.chagrin-falls.org and emailed reminders are available. For those not yet living in the 21st Century, a meeting calendar is located inside the front door of village hall.
If, after all of that, you still think you are getting the run-around, go to a council meeting on the second and fourth Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. Wait for the “members of the public, not to exceed five minutes” place on the agenda, and go for it.
And yet it is only the rare occasion someone stands up and says something or asks a question. In fact, most council meetings are devoid of an audience. When an audience does show up, it is for a not-in-my-back yard issue and they leave right after it has been discussed.
Still not good enough for you? Call the mayor or village administrator at 440-247-5050 or any member of council. Their personal phone numbers and email addresses are on the village’s official website.