The City of Akron has taken the next step in addressing quality of life issues and responding to citizen complaints.
John Valle, who is the Director of the newly formed Department of Neighborhood Assistance tells AkronNewsNow.com that this new approach will help the city better coordinate its services.
"There's four divisions that will be part of the Department of Neighborhood Assistance," Valle says.
"The housing division, the nuisance compliance division, the 3-1-1 call center, and the recreation bureau will all be under one roof to better serve the residents of Akron."
City Council unanimously approved the formation of the department during their meeting Monday evening.
Valle says the new department is more practical for inspectors to address problems at the same house or neighborhood.
Department of Neighborhood Assistance Director John Valle by Akron NewsNow
"We have cross-trained our nuisance compliance inspectors and our people in the housing department where they can go out to one location and write up multiple nuisance violations," Valle said.
'We've been improving in that area over the past several years, and now with this department we can do better."
He says that by having experienced managers and leadership within the department, more things can be done to help improve Akron's neighborhoods.
"I will be pulling all these resources from these experienced managers that we have, and we will make things easier for residents and block watches in our city to get things done in our neighborhoods."
Valle also says that he will offer the public the opportunity to speak to him one-on-one to discuss any neighborhood or property concerns that come to mind.
Could Akron be the future home of a professional football team ?
AkronNewsNow reported earlier this Spring that the new United States Football League was looking at Akron as a possible location for one of its teams to begin a Spring 2013 season. Now the Akron Beacon Journal reports that officials from the league will meet with city of Akron and University of Akron officials next week to discuss putting a team in Akron to play its games at the idle Rubber Bowl. The Bowl hosted its last University of Akron game in 2008 and is in need of repairs and upgrades.
The USFL would not compete with the NFL, but would be a developmental league that could send players to the NFL, similar to what the former NFL Europe did. USFL officials think Akron is an attractive location for such a team, but investors must also be sought.
On the web : ohio.com
The City of Akron along with Akron City Council is continuing to move forward in its efforts to eliminate the safety concerns that come along with panhandling along city streets.
Ward 9 Councilman Mike Freeman says that talks with both the city's law department and police department were both productive and informative.
"Safety in the street is our number one priority," Freeman said.
By speaking with the Law Department and the Akron Police among others Monday afternoon, many parts of the panhandling legislation is already on the books.
"It turns out that we already have some things in our code of ordinances that would address some of the issues we have with those soliciting donations in public right-of ways."
Freeman tells AkronNewsNow.com the current panhandling legislation has been filed and will not be acted upon because of current rules in place that will address the concerns of both city officials as well as the public.
Akron City Council's Mike Freeman and Jeff Fusco by Aaron Coleman
At-large Councilman Jeff Fusco tells AkronNewsNow.com that those who are soliciting donations at intersections by stepping over the curb when the light is green will be subject to penalties.
"It's a misdemeanor one, that could lead up to 150 dollars in fines."
"It's all about safety," Fusco adds. "We're not the only city that's struggled with this, but we believe at this time this is the best resolution at this point."
Fusco says that the Akron Police will be educating the public for the next 4-5 weeks where generous motorists can donate to help the less fortunate and keep the streets safe.
Councilman Freeman echoes his colleagues sentiments by encouraging people to help out those in need, but there's other ways to do it without impeding traffic or causing an accident.
"We don't want to step on anyone's philanthropy, but as Councilman Fusco said we think there's better ways to do it than on the corner of Market and Main."
Freeman and Fusco say that this a first step in the process of educating the public on this issue and that with help from the police as well as the media, more people will know about this issue.
The City of Akron and the Civil Service Personnel Association have come together on the amount of leave time the union's president would get to handle labor issues.
CSPA President Dan Sladek feels that a fair amount of balance has been achieved.
"There's a balance that needed to be struck between the needs of the city and the ability to represent the employees and we feel that happened."
Akron City Council voted Monday in favor of the state fact-finder's report that will give Sladek 25 hours of time to handle union buisness.
Ward 10 Councilman Garry Moneypenny says that this agreement would help not only Sladek, who is a dispatcher in the 911 center, but also the 200-plus union members in the CSPA.
"He's got a large responsibility with over 200 members that he has to deal with, and from his dispatch chair that would be nearly impossible," Moneypenny says.
Sladek says he's glad the deal was completed and both sides are pleased.
"In the end we're able to come to a conclusion and do what's best for the city and the employees."
The CSPA has 260 members in customer service, clerical, non-managerial and adminstrative positions.
The approved time was a middle ground between the union's request of 30 hours to spend on union business and the city's recommendation of 20 hours.
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