Parma Heights Resilent After Fire
The greatness of a community lies in its people. We, here in the City of Parma Heights, experienced just how true that statement is following the November, 2014, arson fire at City Hall. City department phones were operational almost immediately and, despite the challenging circumstances, the 2014 Christmas Tree Lighting at the Gazebo scheduled for just days after the fire went off without a hitch and was the perfect start to the holiday season. In fact, I am proud to say that even with our departments dispersed to locations throughout the city, all services and events have continued without interruption. Residents and visitors alike have been patient and understanding; many have even called and emailed to express their support and we thank them for their concern. Please be reassured that all of us, department heads and staff members alike, are working hard to keep any inconvenience to the public to a minimum.
Although fire damage was confined to my office, the building suffered extensive smoke damage. My office was almost a total loss and I was able to salvage very little. Shortly after the fire, City Hall employees were given a few hours to go in and grab important items before the building was declared off-limits. All paper files had to be boxed and ionized to remove the acrid odor caused by the smoke. Computers, phones, copiers and printers had to be taken apart and cleaned before they could be used again. City offices were quickly relocated and Cuyahoga County loaned the city office furniture to fill these temporary spaces. Fortunately, the cost of the fire and the rental space is covered by insurance. In total, the fire caused damage and expenses that could reach up to $1 million. We have been told the clean-up and the reconstruction of the building’s interior will take at least several months. As of this writing, necessary demolition which included the removal of all ceiling tiles, flooring, as well as many interior walls, is nearly completed. Reconstruction has begun and we hope to be back in City Hall by this summer.
As you may have heard, Matthew Janowski, a Parma Heights resident, set the fire to make a statement about the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri. With an arrest imminent, he turned himself in to police on December 10, 2014. Janowski pled guilty on February 18, 2015, to F-2 Aggravated Arson and F-3 Possession of Criminal Tools charges. Before his sentencing by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Brian Corrigan on March 18 of this year, a statement I submitted to the Court on behalf of the city was read into the record. My statement reminded the Court that:
“Matthew Janowski was one of our residents and he is a young man with his life ahead of him. For these reasons, we implore the Court, if possible, to impose a sentence that addresses not only his crime but his need for assistance. If a treatment program is available, we encourage the Court to provide him with this assistance so that someday, when his sentence has been served, he will be able to return to society as a stable, responsible citizen.”
I also reminded the court that Mr. Janowski’s actions impacted the city on numerous levels and that he “must be held accountable for his actions and accept the consequences.”
Judge Corrigan imposed a four year prison sentence with the stipulation that Janowski will be eligible for judicial release after he receives treatment for alcohol and drug-related problems which contributed to his actions.
Where Can You Find Us?
My office, the offices of the City Council Clerk and of the Departments of Law, Community & Economic Development, Recreation and Safety are all temporarily housed in The Heritage Building, 6500 Pearl Road, Suite 104B. We can be reached by calling 440-884-9600, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Tax Department and the Office of the Mayor’s Court are located in the Greenbriar Plaza shopping strip right next to City Hall at 6277A Pearl Rd. They can be reached by calling: 440-884-9600 during regular business hours.
If you need to pay a ticket, waiver fines, handle a license forfeiture, secure the release of a vehicle, get information about a warrant block, or have any other business with the Court, please see them at this location between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Those with a summons from the Tax Department should report to the Tax Department before the date specified.
If, however, you have received a Mayor’s Court summons for an offence other than tax-related offences, please report to the Cassidy Theatre located in the Greenbrier Commons on Pearl Road on the court date specified. Court will be held at the theatre until further notice.
The Building and Service Departments were not affected by the fire and are located as before in the lower level of the Cassidy Theatre. They can be reached by calling 440-884-9607 during the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Senior Center, located in the Educator Apartment building, was also unaffected and can be reached at 440-888-4416.