The Shaker Heights 2013 budget work session was not intended to be a town hall, but it had all of the characteristics of one.
At least a dozen residents took the podium Monday night to discuss two issues that have been mentioned throughout town since officials brought them up on Nov. 19 — the possible implementation of traffic cameras and the cancellation of Fourth of July fireworks next year.
It was hard to tell if residents felt more passionate about one issue than the other. They had plenty to say regarding both topics.
"Last July 4th was a new low," Shaker resident Carol Posner said. "The experience was horrible, and I hope that the city stops enabling this type of mob rule.
"Since there's no way to control it and it's just not fun anymore, I'm urging you to cancel the fireworks."
Shaker Heights Police Chief D. Scott Lee admitted that there was no way to fully control the fights and rowdy behavior that have taken place at the last three fireworks celebrations. He said the police department began planning for the 2012 event in March. Shaker enlisted 98 officers that night, but ended up calling for 32 additional officers from 12 other departments. The department also monitored social networks in hopes of catching people who were planning to cause trouble.
Still, the night ended with nine arrests and plenty of residents like Posner believing that the event should not be held in 2013.
"They weren't there to watch the fireworks," Lee said. "When the first firework went up, I saw one male run from one end of the median (near Shaker Heights Middle School) to the other end and cold cock someone — just for the sake of cold cocking him.
"When I talked to the mother afterwards, after we arrested one individual, her comment was, 'That's what they do, that's their street cred.'"
The majority of people at the meeting favored the implementation of traffic cameras. Though some have written the idea off as a money grab, most in attendance agreed with officials who said that installing cameras is a safety issue.
"I've spent about 45 years on Shaker Boulevard in my home, and the traffic situation is completely different from when I moved there," 85-year-old Dr. Edward Falkner said. "Over the last few years, I've noticed that drivers are speeding down Shaker Boulevard at speeds that sometimes exceed 50 miles per hour.
"Sixty miles per hour is not rare."
Lee said that's why the police department has recommended installing cameras at major intersections throughout the city. The chief used the term "photo enforcement cameras" because the devices could come in various forms, ranging from red lights to sitting on top of parked police cars.
The kinds of cameras, locations and the third-party firm that would install them will all be discussed once the police department reviews and addresses any legislative needs from the city, Lee said.
Visit Shaker Heights Patch all week for more information and data from this meeting.