Landscape Architect's Appointment Halted in Mayfield Village
Mayor, council argue over need for post as ordinance fails
James McKnight came to the Mayfield Village regular council meeting Monday with a splashy sideshow and hopes of being appointed as the village’s landscape architect to assist with various elements of the longstanding Greenway Corridor and other village projects.
Instead, he had his hedges trimmed.
Caught in the crossfire between Mayor Bruce Rinker and outspoken council members about the need for having such a post, McKnight was unable to be confirmed as the village’s landscape architect with a deadlocked 3-3 vote at the Mayfield Village Civic Center.
Council President William Buckholtz, Patsy Mills and Joanne Cinco were in favor of the confirmation, but William Marquardt, Dr. Stephan Parker and Nicholas Delguyd were against it. Councilman Tom Marrie was on vacation.
Assistant Law Director Diane Calta recited the village’s charter that stated the mayor can break a tie in the event of a council stalemate, but Rinker refused taking the measure and pressed to place the item on the council’s agenda for the next meeting.
Council will meet in a caucus on Aug. 6 and its next regular meeting is Aug. 20, but council could hold a special meeting during that caucus to potentially settle the matter.
Marquardt, along with Delguyd, didn’t see the need to have the position appointed and was more interested in using McKnight’s services in a more limited role.
“I just don’t believe that we need to appoint him as the village architect. It’s not necessary in my opinion to have a village architect in a village our size. We can use him by contract or some other means,” Marquardt said.
Rinker believed McKnight’s benefit was in better unifying the project through his landscaping knowledge and giving the village greater clarity in explaining it to the community.
“I think the quality of the work and the consistency is something that behooves us to be able to do this. Other than that, I’m not sure what the debate would be. This is a way to get someone on board who gives us expertise and insight we can use,” Rinker said.
Building Commissioner John Marrelli said the village’s charter calls for it to have a landscape architect on staff. “We have to have somebody we can go to,” he said.
McKnight, whose company McKnight Associates is located in downtown Cleveland, wasn’t pleased with the decision.
“I have no thought whatsoever. It’s interesting to see democracy in action on a small scale,” he said. “It’ll slow things down, dramatically.”