The Metroparks cost to dock Hornblowers is rising

The former floating restaurant Hornblowers was docked at Wildwood Park by the Cleveland Metroparks in September 2023.
The former floating restaurant Hornblowers was docked at Wildwood Park by the Cleveland Metroparks in September. Credit: Camille Renner / Signal Cleveland Credit: Camille Renner

The Cleveland Metroparks continues to sink money into its new barge, the former floating restaurant and event space known as Hornblowers.

As we first told you in June, the park system purchased the barge, long docked next to Burke Lakefront Airport, for $1.3 million. The Metroparks moved the barge Sept. 15 to its Wildwood Park on the city’s East Side near Euclid Beach.

While exact plans for the barge’s makeover haven’t been revealed, the park system plans to use it as a floating classroom, among other things. At the moment, the Metroparks is spending more money than originally estimated to moor the barge, according to this week’s Metroparks board agenda.

On Thursday, the board approved adding $100,000 to the original contract of $167,000 to moor the barge at Wildwood. This cost will only cover partial installation through the winter, according to the agenda, which said the park system will ask its board for more money later to complete installation.

This reminds me of the sailor’s adage: A boat is just a hole in the water you pour money into.

Watch the Barge’s journey

New Cleveland Police pay deal to cost $8.6 million

We told you last week that Mayor Justin Bibb was heralding a major raise for police officers. Officers can now make as much as $84,000 a year in regular time pay.

The hope is that hiking compensation will stem the tide of officer departures and bring new cadets on board. In exchange, police have agreed to work 12-hour shifts, offering more coverage on the street.  

One number left out of the discussion was the total price to the city. So Signal Cleveland asked. Pay increases for police currently on staff will cost almost $8.6 million starting next year, according to Press Secretary Marie Zickefoose.

Cleveland plans to foot that bill through a hoped-for drop in overtime. The city has already spent $20 million on overtime this year, blowing past the $13 million budgeted.  

There’s also slack in the police budget. The force was down 287 officers at last count, which likely translates to millions of dollars in unpaid wages for jobs that aren’t filled.

Traveling MetroHealth CEO

MetroHealth System CEO Airica Steed will mark her first year as head of Cuyahoga County’s public hospital in January, though she technically started the job a few weeks early after her predecessor, Dr. Akram Boutros, was fired last November for awarding himself bonuses the board contends he was not entitled to receive. (Boutros, who has repaid the bonuses while insisting the compensation was allowed, is suing the board for defamation.)

Nearly one year in, Steed is facing financial losses and staffing shortages typical of the industry right now. She also has been raising her and the hospital system’s profile through regular travel. 

MetroHealth said that as head of the $1.7 billion healthcare system, Steed is the hospital’s “main public advocate,” which necessitates travel. MetroHealth said Steed travels to meet with state and federal policymakers, industry leaders, corporate partners, and health-related advocacy organizations.

Steed’s travels have allowed the hospital, caregivers “and the populations we serve to have a stronger voice in national discussions surrounding health policy, clinical and academic excellence and health equity,” the hospital said.

MetroHealth said Steed recently traveled to London to meet with insurance underwriters, noting that it’s a trip her predecessor made frequently. It added that Steed also went to Munich to meet with executives from Siemens, a medical technology company, to build its partnership. 

Signal background

Issue 38 street fight

Television airwaves are cluttered with advertisements related to Issue 1, which would add abortion rights to the state constitution. The battle over Issue 38 – a Cleveland charter amendment that would give residents a direct say over a small portion of the city budget – is being waged on the streets, literally. This week, the campaign against the issue blasted a recorded message from speakers on a van driving through neighborhoods. Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin, who is leading the anti-Issue 38 campaign, voiced the message that said in part the proposal is “too risky for Cleveland. Protect safety services.” 

Proponents of Issue 38, which is also known as participatory budgeting, are walking the streets distributing literature that plays off a familiar populist rallying cry: “Streets over Stadiums.” Given that the city right now is trying to figure out how to pay for a costly Browns Stadium renovation, it’s a message the campaign believes resonates.

One piece of literature goes further, arguing Issue 38 will “ensure tax dollars benefit us, not private interests and billionaires.”

Both sides of this street fight say they are confident their messages will carry the day. 

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.