Akron mayor’s request to hire part-time officers
in Council’s hands
By Stephanie Kist
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Legislation that would permit the hiring of up to 40 part-time officers at a cost of about $140,000 for the Akron Police Department (APD) is now before Akron City Council. Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic in January announced a seven-point plan to address rising crime in the city. One facet of the plan is to hire special patrolmen to work when calls for service escalate, especially on summertime weekends, when manpower is reduced due to officers’ vacations.
Council took time on the ordinance and will vote on it at a later time. It was discussed during the Public Safety Committee meeting in the afternoon.
The department can post the
job openings if and when Council passes the ordinance,
said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety George Romanoski.
The positions would be offered first to retiring APD
officers, then to reserve officers, then active officers
in other departments and finally to individuals who
are trained and certified by the Ohio Peace Officer
There has been opposition to the
plan from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7,
but Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations James Masturzo
said he researched the city charter and union contract
and sees no conflicts.
“I don’t believe it
violates any portion of
the contract,” he said. “I feel strongly
we’re not in violation.”
Committee chairman Jim Shealey
(D-Ward 5) expressed support of the mayor’s plan.
“As a Council, we need to
do everything we can to make sure it happens,”
In other business, Council honored
two long-time employees who are retiring. Fire Chief
Charles Gladman has 34 years of service, and Deputy
Law Director James Payne is retiring with 23 years of
Payne attended the meeting, and
Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) thanked him
for his service and for being a “consummate
professional and one heck of a good lawyer.”
Council members unanimously approved
resolutions honoring the two men.
Also at the meeting, Council authorized
$1.1 million for design and construction management
of a new parking deck. The new deck — the construction
for which Council will need to approve at a later date
— would be built just east of Dart Avenue, north
of the current Superblock deck. It would have about
700 spaces and cost about $11.8 million to build.
James Weber, the city’s
construction division manager, said at the Public Service
Committee meeting that demand
for parking in that area has grown, and two businesses
recently left downtown in part due to lack of parking.
“It’s not only a retention
issue, it’s an attraction issue,” added
Robert Bowman, deputy mayor for economic development.
Committee member John Conti (D-at
large) expressed displeasure that the city is basically
subsidizing parking for downtown businesses by building
and maintaining parking facilities.
“We don’t get our
capital dollars back,” he said.
Committee member Terry Albanese
(D-Ward 6) said since the parking deck is in this year’s
capital budget, which Council approved Feb. 12, the
time for debating it has
come and gone.
In related business, Council approved
a two-year, $3 million contract with AMPCO System Parking
for the management and operation of city-owned parking
facilities. The contract includes an option to renew
for two additional two-year terms. AMPCO currently manages
and operates the city’s parking facilities.
Also during the Public Service
Committee meeting, the committee and Public Works Bureau
Manager Paul Barnett discussed the recent storm that
blanketed the city with 14 inches of snow.
Barnett said the city’s
salt cost is more than last year’s. The equipment
also took a “massive
beating” in the storm, he said. At one point or
another during the week, 30 percent of the fleet was
broken down, he said.
Barnett said it took about 36
hours to attend to the city’s 800 miles of roadway,
“which we were not very pleased with.” He
added that many of the city’s workers are new
and hadn’t operated snow removal equipment in
such a heavy snowfall before.
In other business at the regular
meeting, Council approved:
repairs to sidewalks throughout
the city at a cost of $266,974;
a $5,000 payment to the
Shaw Jewish Community Center for the city’s sponsorship
of last year’s KidsFair; and
a mutual aid agreement
with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the
police departments of Bath, Fairlawn, Norton, Richfield,
Boston Heights, Hudson, Silver Lake, Stow and Twinsburg
for accident reconstruction services.
The next Akron City Council meeting
is scheduled for March 5 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers
on the third floor of the municipal building, located
at 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are scheduled
to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.