Mayors spar over need for
By Jeff Gallatin
Published Feb. 21, 2007
Mayor Debbie Sutherland and her Avon counterpart,
James A. Smith, continue to be on different roads when it comes
to the planned I-90 interchange project in Avon.
Smith sent a
letter to Sutherland last week making a public records request for
copies of “any and all correspondence regarding the proposed interchange
and copies of all messages and your telephone logs.”
the letter and Sutherland’s approved request
earlier this month for additional study of the interchange
from NOACA (Northern Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency), Smith said
he’s trying to make sure he has all the information about what’s
going on regarding the project.
“I am trying
to fill in certain gaps to be sure I have a clear picture of the
entire story on what is taking place,” Smith said, saying he has
gotten telephone calls expressing concern about the project and
rumors of other potential developments such as a new mall in the
area because of the interchange.
not the case,” Smith said about a mall being part of the interchange
For her part,
Sutherland said she’s complying with Smith’s request, but adds she
is somewhat mystified by his reaction and his attitude.
“All I want
to do is to get additional study and discussion as to how this would
affect the area and my city,” Sutherland said. “I am not opposed
to the interchange project. I want to emphasize that. I am only
trying to make sure that adequate study of the work and the ramifications
of the project are done properly.”
Smith said he’s
heard Sutherland on the subject, but said he believes she and other
Cuyahoga County officials don’t want the interchange to go through.
“Doing a study
or seeking additional discussion or information are other words
for ‘we don’t want the project,’” Smith said. “We’ve had many meetings
on this subject and there has been adequate study done. Why are
we hearing this now? She didn’t say anything when we met about this
a couple of weeks ago.”
with Smith’s account, saying she has raised concerns a number of
times about possible effects of the project and the need for additional
information on it.
questions a number of times about what is going on and have also
raised the question of possible effects on more than one occasion,”
Sutherland said, citing one example of her asking about traffic
in the area.
Smith said he
believes some Cuyahoga County officials are concerned because Avon
has had businesses move from Cuyahoga County on different occasions.
“I hear this
talk about regionalism, and usually it’s a case of regionalism of
being what is best for the person or city speaking about it,” Smith
said. “We all need to learn to get along with each other on this
and other issues.”
her request for additional study was approved by NOACA.
“It got unanimous
approval from the group, which represents five counties, Cuyahoga,
Lake, Medina, Geauga and Lorain,” Sutherland said. “If the representatives
from the other areas — including Lorain — had concerns about the
request, they would have raised them and they could have rejected
it. They didn’t. I think that says something.”
She said the
study and analysis work have been put off until the second quarter
of 2007 because NOACA officials said they have not received the
necessary development traffic information from traffic engineers.
Smith said he
hasn’t been adequately informed about meetings or other items pertaining
to the project discussion.
“I know I can
be a hemmorhoid about this type of thing to people,” Smith said.
“But I’ve seen a lot in my years in politics and we want this project
go through. We caused a problem for some because we’re using our
own money for it. Part of that’s for a reason, so we can control
more of our own issues instead of relying on others because of things
she has no problem about a project going through which aids other
communities; she just want to make sure her city and others are
also taken care of.
knows me well would certainly say I’m a big proponent of regionalism
and having different cities work together,” she said. “I’m also
a big proponent of adequate study and preparation. This is just
a part of that.”