Much Afoul At City Hall

According to authorAnna Sellers Friedrich who wrote in Places Journal of architecture, landscape and urbanism "city halls exist in almost every city across America. They serve the same purpose in each place. they are portals through which we interact with local leaders and conduct our bereucratic business with the government". 

That begs the question, why is the Parma City Hallroped off from the public? How we can interact with our local leaders Libraries are public buildings yet patrons are not asked to state their business at the door. Patrons are not ushered to the non fiction side and told to stay away from the magazines and newspapers.

A public building infers a certain freedom granted to all citizens yet not so in Parma. Unfortunately, our government has become less open or perhaps Parma has always lacked transparency.

Is our group "Trees Are Needed For A Greener Parma" the sole exception at the inability of city hall to fulfill public record requests? Since 2022 our group has had incredible difficulty obtaining public records. We have received only a small fraction of our requests. Have other citizens had the same difficulty?

Our group's early request was to find out how many public trees Parma routinely cuts down. The Service Director told us that the city doesn't count. Yet the Service Department's budget for monthly laborers, excluding administration was no small amount $1,740,102 annual forecasted budget for all laborers, excluding Service 

Department administration in 2022

 Yet despite this amount of funding for the service dept. the dept has no accounting of what percentage of it's labor  budget is used for cutting trees down.  

Our group surmised that cut trees leave stumps. Parma city uses outsourced companies to grind those stumps. Parma has provided those contractors with a never ending list.

Payment to these companies is tracked and a billing must be rendered. Yet again and again our group has been told no such list exist. Our public records requests have been shuffled from the Communications dept. to the Law Dept. for sorting out  it appears. A 2023 attempt and lack of fulfilling the records request at the law office proves even the law dept. is stymied.

An assumption can be made that with the same administration serving multiple terms all is ship shape up there at city hall. Is this a safe assumption? We think not.

Lets look to another example other than the blighting of our neighborhoods from unnecessary tree removal.

The  American Rescue Plan Act dollars ARPA. Rather than improving, repairing and tending to our aged failing sewer and water systems in our city granting relief for our chronically flooded neighbors or providing a new senior center that serves our aging population,  leaders instead decide

 that what would improve residents lives and welcome new family's to Parma is- a new golf clubhouse/event center!

Records requested on January 13th, 2024 solidify taxpayer concern and doubt. While our group did obtain a list of salivating contractors eager for their piece of the pie. Blueprints record requests are unavailable. Blueprints have not been drafted yet. We are not sure how the 4 million than 9 million and now 12.3 million dollar plans could rise in cost without providing blueprints.

The Clubhouse/Event Center  has earned the anger and disbelief of residents are now left to question the validity of the cost. The city did submit three conceptual renderings. 

In the 7th largest city in the State of Ohio,  Parma a city of roughly 80,000 residents a basic function of city hall such as record keeping is the foundation for integrity through transparency in government.

 On January 15, 2024 we asked how many public records were requested in 2023? The city's response? No such list exist. That's correct an accounting of the accounting of public records does not exist. Hold onto your hard copies folks. This finding does not inspire confidence in our leaders or million dollar projects. Maybe those velvet ropes that keep residents out are really meant from keeping residents from seeing in.

Cofounder of concerned citizens on Facebooks

"Trees are Needed for a Greener Parma"

Sharon Stahurski

Sharon Stahurski

Cofounder of the group "Trees are needed for a Greener Parma" and other concerned citizens that care about Parma

Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:15 AM, 04.01.2024