Cleveland City Council approves EDC-funded pavilion, makes major change to airport management

The City of Cleveland, in a special-called meeting on Nov. 6, gave the green light to a new $25,000 pavilion, funded entirely by the Cleveland Economic Development Corporation.

The structure will be built by Kelley Construction on the former site of the now-demolished fire station at the intersection of San Jacinto and Hanson streets. The new 18-foot by 30-foot pavilion will have a concrete base and an open gable roof, and will be an amenity for downtown Cleveland.

In previous meetings, the City had debated the merits of building the pavilion on other City-owned properties, including Cleveland Municipal Airport, where plans are underway for an observation area, or Campbell Park, where Food Truck Fridays are being held; however, Council ultimately went with the EDC’s recommendation to erect the pavilion on the Hanson-San Jacinto street property.

While the selected location has the capability of having water and sewer services, there are no plans to add those features at this time.

“Bathrooms in public places that are open all the time can become issues,” said City Manager Scott Swigert. “The Texan Theatre is right across the street from where the pavilion will be, so I can see it being used during some of their big events.”

Big changes are underway for Cleveland Municipal Airport. Council, acting on the recommendations from an ad hoc committee that reviewed proposals, voted on Monday to reject the three submitted proposals for a fixed based operator for the airport, which is currently under the management of Aviation Services, owned by Clay Dean, of Cleveland. Dean’s contract is set to expire on Dec. 31.

One of the submitted proposals that was rejected by the committee was from Councilman Eddie Lowery. Of the three proposals, Dean’s bid received the highest score despite the costs being higher than the other two bids.

Instead of having a fixed based operator for the airport, the City plans to take over management and hire one full-time airport manager and two part-time assistants. The job will be posted internally first to see if the City already has qualified applicants among its employees. If no suitable candidates are found, the job will be posted to the public.

Swigert said the City will be working with Dean to ensure a smooth transition.

“Some of the benefits we are looking at are having full control of the airport and having all the revenue coming in,” Swigert told Council, sharing the committee’s recommendations. “We want to have additional activities and events. We have been looking at that. We feel like the City can do a better job.”

For the second time in three months, the contract with Olson & Olson, the Houston-based law firm that provides a city attorney, was brought up for discussion, this time by Councilman Lowery, who wants the City to consider proposals from other law firms.

Calling it “due diligence,” Lowery said, “If there is a better opportunity, we want to find out.” His suggestion was supported by Councilman Fred Terrell, but received some pushback from Councilman Julius Buckley and Councilman Roscoe Warrick.

Buckley questioned the timing of the request, saying that the City is already two months into the new fiscal year and any changes should have been considered prior to budget season. Warrick asked Lowery what he hopes to gain from another law firm.

“We talked about this three months ago and now it’s come up again about Olson & Olson. What are they doing that you think someone else can do? What are looking for?” Warrick said.

Mayor Danny Lee also questioned the timing of Lowery’s suggestion to look for other law firms. He added that City Attorney Mary Ann Powell, of Olson & Olson, is a messenger with no hidden agenda for or against anyone on Council.

“She doesn’t know anyone on this council. She doesn’t know anyone in City Hall. She doesn’t have a dog in the hunt. Why shoot the messenger? All she is doing is giving us legal advice. We have all this other stuff going on – things that are very important,” Lee said. “If I saw a problem, I would be the first to say I am not satisfied.”

After the discussion, no action was taken on Lowery’s suggestion, and the meeting was adjourned.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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