Text of Fairview Park Mayor Eileen Patton's annual State of the City report to the Chamber of Commerce, delivered March 13, 2103.
FAIRVIEW PARK STATE OF THE CITY 2013 Good Morning. What a change this is to be delivering the State of the City bright and early in the morning before everyone’s day gets started. A hearty breakfast while gathering with friends and business acquaintances is the perfect way to get energized for the day. Today is sponsored by the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for hosting my 14th State of the City. We have a great program going on these past two months at the Gemini Center called “Fit in Fairview.” The program is not about showing up and losing weight. It’s about getting your life in order and taking a good look to see what changes can be made. It’s listening and learning from the professional doctors that visit and walk with you each week. It is also about teaming up with Fairview Hospitals Straight from the Heart program because a “team effort produces success.” Our “Fit in Fairview” theme is alive and well down the street at city hall. As we work our way through the worst economic times that most of us have ever seen, getting fit again is the order of the day. Call it healthy, robust, in-shape, or on top form, each department has had to embrace many changes for our city as a whole to get “fit” again. We have seen our city persevere through challenging times and I am pleased to report to you on the conditions of each department today and how
thankful I am for the wonderful, dedicated employees we have serving the residents and businesses of our community. Thank you Chamber members, City Council, employees, business owners, and engaged residents for being here today. Welcome City Council members Bill Minek, Pete Matia and John Hinkel; School Superintendent Brion Deitsch and School Board President, Joe Shucofsky; Cuyahoga County Fairview Park Branch Manager, Elaine Wilkinson and County Council Representative Dave Greenspan. I have the privilege of delivering this report today, but many hands play a part in the continuing progress we celebrate here in Fairview Park. Thank you to our Fairview Park City Council members for the roll that each of you plays in reaching the goals of our great community. My deepest appreciation to all the employees at city hall; the special talent that each of you brings forth, along with your tremendous dedication in serving the residents of our community is overwhelming at times. We have so much to celebrate in our great community. We have had lots of activity over the past year, into the first three months of this year and I am very excited to share it with you. Many people choose where they live by the services that are offered within a community. An important aspect of those decisions begins with the safety of our fine community.
Fairview Park safety forces are always here to serve and protect. Our Fire Department, led by Fire Chief Bud Williams, welcomed our newest firefighter, Rick Rutkowski, who now joins a staff 24 firefighters/paramedics. We anticipate no retirements in this calendar year. This past year has been a trying one as our firefighters battled six (6) significant house and structure fires. They are on pace for a total of 1,785 runs for the past year. Hurricane Sandy generated a total of 53 storm related calls in a 30 hour period and as our firefighters worked tirelessly we are thankful for no reported injuries to civilians or fire responders. In 2012, all firefighters passed recertification for Advanced Cardiac Life Support. The department installed 12 residential lock boxes last year for a total of over 100 installations in our senior citizens’ homes since inception of this safety program. The total cost to our seniors is $25, and the lock box, located on the outside structure of the home, allows our fire personnel to enter a home under emergency conditions. Annual inspections of all businesses were conducted by shift personnel along with our firefighters working with the Building Department in conducting inspections of apartment buildings. In our residential outreach program, our firefighters spoke to approximately 860 school children during Fire Prevention week.
The department received three grants for a total of $10,395 for recertification and department purchases. Our firemen receive many thank you letters throughout the year for the professional and personable way they handle situations involving our residents. Our firefighters appreciate your support as they continue to serve you. Our Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Patrick Nealon, also welcomed a new officer this past year. Michael Thompson now joins a staff of 24 sworn police officers. A number of retirements will take place in the department this year and we are working with our Civil Service Commission in the replacement process. The department continues to upgrade necessary equipment in order to maintain efficiency. The FCC mandated changes to our police radio system had to be upgraded and replaced to an expected cost of $12,000. Our WEB Check fingerprinting system which is linked to the FBI and BCI was upgraded to verify criminal history and is also used for clearing applicants for city employment. Three new desk top computers and three new Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) were acquired by the department last year. The department was the recipient of an Automatic License Plate Reader through a grant from Homeland Security. As you can see, the unit was installed on car 3316 and automatically scans license plate information to the car’s computer system. We also received four new defibrillators
from Fairview Hospital and every member received training on the new units. All police cars are equipped with these life-saving devices. The West Shore Enforcement Bureau, known as WEB, provided a Drug Drop Box in the police lobby as part of “Operation Medicine Cabinet,” for residential drop off of unwanted prescriptions. In November our officers received the AAA Community Traffic Safety Award for promoting awareness of traffic safety issues among its citizens. Thank you to our Police Department for their excellent efforts during Hurricane Sandy. They responded to many calls of downed trees and wires. Many times they were the first on the scene to assess and they placed themselves in danger due to the high winds associated with the storm. We are very thankful that we had no injuries. Our residential outreach in the Police Department this year included a program called “Officer Phil.”Children in grades K-4 from the Gillis Sweet School, Messiah Lutheran and St. Angela’s were taught through magicians and other entertainers as they provided safety instruction for all the students. This program is privately funded by local businesses and there was no cost to the taxpayers.
Our Police Department also oversees our dedicated school guards and 20 Auxiliary Officers who have made a significant contribution by volunteering 1,700 hours of service to our community. Our police officers appreciate the support that they receive from our residents and businesses as they continue to support and serve you 24/7. Our Service Department is under the Direction of Service and Development Director, Jim Kennedy. Service Supervisor, John Anderson oversees our infrastructure, streets, parks, municipal buildings, recycling program, traffic department, snow removal and leaf-pickup. In order for this department to continue to serve our residents, a new 3½ ton dump truck was purchased last year. Our annual Street Program completed its 24th year with a total cost of $616,642 dollars worth of improvements. As part of our continuing efforts to reduce flooding, $452,089 were expended on sewer projects. New cutters were installed at pumping stations, sewer manhole drip pans were installed in Ward 5 and parts of Ward 3 and our in-house Service Department cleaned 13,320 linear feet of storm and sanitary sewers city wide. The Service Department also oversaw the installation of the new boilers at city hall, purchased through a NOPEC grant. Our residential outreach program in the Service Department included a new program designed for the first Monday of the month as a “drop-off' where residents
come to city hall and drop off old computers and other electrical equipment, hazardous waste and phone books. We also hosted two document shredding days last year and we will continue hosting shedding days again this year in May and September. Shedding days are made possible through a grant from Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District. Special thanks to Bridget Hinkel who coordinates and volunteers at this important program, requested by you, the residents. It has been very successful. Thanks to our hard working Service Department for all they did during Hurricane Sandy. The crews worked non-stop clearing debris from our neighborhoods and our streets. We received many thanks from our residents for the help the employees in this department extended to our residents. Working with County Councilman Dave Greenspan, we also received assistance in manpower and equipment from the County to help remove debris. Thank you to all involved, especially the residents who came forward to volunteer to go door-to-door in notifying the neighborhoods of electrical outage updates and available shelter. All of these entities working together, made safety and clean-up a classic case study of what local government should do in meeting the needs of the community during a crisis. Our Building Department, under the direction of Building Commissioner Sel Kulscar had a retirement last year of the Assistant Building Commissioner.
His replacement, Walt Maynard comes to us from the City of Lakewood with many years of experience and holds numerous licenses which are important for our small building department which includes two building clerks. As your home is the biggest investment you will make in your lifetime, residents are eligible for the Cuyahoga County Housing Enhancement Loan, also known as HELP. This program enables homeowners to borrow money to repair or remodel their homes at interest rates 3% below a bank's market rate for home improvements. Six loans were issued last year for a total of $71,000 worth of improvements. 272 loans were received by homeowners since the beginning of this program totaling over $4 million. Last year this department issued 296 new permits consisting of residential alterations, new commercial buildings, fences, pools, garages, siding and sheds. 2012 fees collected amounted to $213,000 and 4,878 field inspections were conducted. Total fees for licensing of apartments totaled $20,536 with 80 inspections taking place. We have 290 rental homes registered in our city. Rental licenses are issued once a year and a license is issued when the homes are in conformity with our building and zoning codes. A total of $23,600 was collected under this program. All of these important programs help insure that our housing and building stock remain strong in the coming years.
Our seasonal residential property maintenance program was modified last year with the inspection of over 3,000 homes city wide. All inspections were conducted from the sidewalk and checklists were hand delivered to homes with violations. We are very pleased to offer this service to our community as it preserves maintenance standards in our residential neighborhoods. Purchases for this department last year included the replacement of two 12year-old cars, new office furniture and a color copier for faxes, scans and emails. In order to bring these services to our community, I would like to share with you that we have a budget carry-over in our General Fund. The Finance
Department, led by Finance Director Lisa Rocco and her staff continue to carry on the tradition of operating this department efficiently. My office and City
Council are charged with the duty of deciding where our tax dollars should go and appropriating the proper funds. As we move forward, we all recognize that the State cuts in estate tax and local government in 2013 is going to be a very difficult economic period for our city. Over the past months, we have worked with City Council in order to deliver a balance budget to the county by March 31. Property tax revenue and income tax revenue are maintaining at budget projections, however, a budget surplus in the General Fund carried over from 2012 does not mean that we can afford to live beyond our means at this time.
We must, and will, continue our efforts to enhance Fairview Park’s financial stature by moving forward with our efforts of economic redevelopment throughout our community. As income tax is our largest revenue source for our general fund which funds salaries and allows for needed purchases from maintenance to emergencies, having strong solid businesses and a resourceful workforce located in our community is crucial. As of last report, the following businesses, both private and public have the largest workforce within the city of Fairview Park: Fairview Park School District Cleveland Metro Parks McGowan & Co. Cleveland Clinic Foundation West Side Cardiology Target Corporation Reserves Network Inc. PEP - Cuyahoga County Board of Education Giant Eagle – Riser Foods Fairview Eye Center Cleveland Eye & Laser Surgery BFI Waste Systems
St. Angela Church E-merging Technologies Kohl’s Department Store Accounting Service Center Zaremba Management Co One could only imagine the more demanding financial burdens we could be facing today if we did not embark on our path and goals of economic development 14 years ago. We are very pleased that 11 of the 17 largest workforce businesses in our city have been established under this administration. Our 2005- $20 M Gemini Bonds were refinanced for a savings of $1.3 M over the life of the bonds. Through this process, the department was able to maintain the City’s Aa2 bond rating through Moody’s Investment Services. This year we are pleased to announce that Finance Director Rocco and her staff received “The Ohio Auditor of State Award with Distinction” from Auditor David Yost. Our finances are in order and we will continue do what is necessary to make sure they remain in order. I would like to thank all the heads of all the departments and City Council for their utmost attention to our city finances. Wellness, fun and organization are all part of Recreation Director Kenn Kaminski’s goals. Kenn joined us as the new director in April of last year and his past experience in the field of recreation has benefited our programs and the
Gemini Center. The City operates a system of parks with a total of 54.2 acres which offer playgrounds, ball diamonds, athletic fields, and playing courts. If you need to see a great sports game, Bohlken Park is the place to be. Last year 600 baseball/softball games and 200 soccer games were played. Bohlken Park is also the home of our Fairview Warriors Baseball Team. The Gemini Center, which celebrated its fifth birthday in January, has become the focal gathering point of the City. The Gemini was built to enhance the quality of life in the city and to meet the needs of school students and residents of all ages. Last year 3,877 children and 1,146 adults participated in sports and leisure programs which was an increase of 556 participants over the previous year. Thank you to over 100 volunteer coaches who participate in our year round programs. As I enjoy coming to the Gemini, apparently many others feel like I do. In 2012, we had 6,542 members enrolled in our Center. Revenue income collected at the Gemini from 2011 to 2012 increased by $30,734. Contributing to this increase were our aquatics programs, adult fitness, memberships, conference room rentals and adult programs. Major purchases included: reupholstering of equipment and chairs within the Gemini, purchase of a lift, refinishing of the gym and aerobic rooms, acid wash and painting of the leisure pool, and the purchase of $20,345 for new lighting in the center, which was reimbursed through a grant. Major undertakings included the
conversion of the game room to an aerobics studio and the expansion of the Cleveland Clinic Rehab Center. Our Silver Sneakers program has hit an all time high. We started small and have grown to numbers beyond our imagination. Last year we had 311 members and today we are so pleased to be offering health programs and exercise to over 1,148 seniors. The Gemini has evolved into a multi-generational center offering programs from toddlers to seniors. Thanks to Kenn, his management team and staff for the outstanding programs you offer and for the special care that you put into this beautiful building. Growing up in Fairview Park also means receiving an excellent education. We are very impressed with all that the school has accomplished over the past years. Superintendent Brion Deitsch is truly a great asset to our city and the partnership that we have developed will certainly have the city and schools working together for many years. Thank you to the School Board Members for their dedication to the education of our younger residents. Realizing that we have excellent choices for education here in our community, I am pleased to partner with our schools on special programs they offer their students. Last week I was a guest reader at Gillis Sweet for “Right to Read Week.” And every year the third grader students from St. Angela Merici and Gillis Sweet attend a “Day at City
Hall” where they tour all the departments, talk to the police officers and firefighters, see the jail and climb on the service vehicles. The day concludes in the chamber of City Council where I answer many questions of what they saw and learned. I also participate in “Youth in Government” every year, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. This is an extraordinary day filled with the junior class learning about city government and their community. This year, chamber member, Kevin Lynch from AT&T joined me with a program on the dangers of driving and texting. I am proud that together, we stand with our educational partners as we share a vision that education is the most powerful competitive advantage we can give our students. As we tie together our Gemini Center along with our Fairview High School, I would be remiss if I did not share with you today the final building located in our campus design – our Fairview Park Library. We are so pleased to have this important asset in our community. Library Manager Elaine Wilkinson is always ready and willing to show you round the Play, Learn and Grow area, the Tween and Teen rooms, the Tech Lab with free technology classes, and the Career Center Satellite that provides resources and support for jobseekers. 804,000 items were checked out of our branch in 2012 including 75,000 e-books. Stop in and check out the Zinio program. This premium use subscription gives library patrons free access
to nearly 400 of the most popular magazines using Windows or Mac computer and a variety of mobile devices. And all you need is a library card! Here is some news that you might not know. If you are planning a trip abroad, stop in and get your passport at the Fairview Branch. Last year, 650 passports were processed. Thank you to Elaine and the entire library staff for serving the residents of Fairview Park. From children to seniors, Fairview Park is a great place to grow OLD. The Senior Center remains one of the best of its kind in Cuyahoga County. Senior Life Director, Regina Sillasen and her full time staff of one, along with a wonderful caring part time licensed social worker, kitchen assistant, transportation staff, and van drivers, accomplish goals unheard of in today’s economic times. Our Senior Advisory Council raises funds for the Senior Center through sales at their gift shop, their treasurer shop and many fundraisers throughout the year. The Advisory Council contributed $4,540 toward the reupholstering of 150 chairs, purchased an AED unit for $1,899, purchased the new Senior Center sign for Lorain Road for $3,995 and equipped the audio visual room with $2,338 dollars of equipment. All of these purchases were to no cost to the city or the tax payers. The Senior Advisory Council, Inc is a 501C3 and they also raise dollars through fundraisers throughout the year. Through their generous efforts, they donated $18,581 for the purchase of a 2012 Ford Transit Connect to add to the fleet of cars so that our seniors have transportation in our community.
The Senior Center is also blessed to have Fairview Park resident, Harry Witzke who calls the senior center home. Harry has donated $13,627 toward the new van, the chairs and the purchase of a new ice machine needed to serve the hot lunch meals provided for our residents. As the saying goes, Harry is from the Greatest Generation and he is here with us today. Thank you Harry for all that you do. The Senior Center is filled daily with caring, fun-loving seniors who participate in the many vital services that help them to maintain their well being and independence which is an important part of their quality of life. Thank you to our students in Fairview Park who are always willing to help our seniors. Throughout the year, students are involved with the annual yard cleaning program, special decorations made for events and every year, both high school students and seniors look forward to the Senior Prom. The Senior Center will be 14 years old this July and due to its excellent care, it still looks brand new. As many here today are business owners, I would like to thank you for the investment you have made in our community. As I mentioned earlier, our Gemini bonds were refinanced through Moody’s Investment Service. Moody’s provide international and financial research on bonds issued by commercial and government entities and is considered one of the “Big Three” in credit rating agencies. In May, officials from Moody’s in Chicago came to our city to meet with
city officials regarding our financial state. While here, they took a tour of projects completed and projects in progress. In the much anticipated final report we received from Moody’s announcing our Aa2 – high quality and very low credit risk the following report was included describing the City of Fairview Park. “Known today for its exceptional master-planned and progressive business development, new infrastructure projects and outstanding adjacent park system, the City has become one the County’s most dynamic communities. Committed to ensuring high quality standards for development, the City has distinguished itself as a place where residents desire to live, work and play. Through its unique innovations and progressive planning, the Development Department has helped to create the quality of life that has made the City the community it is today.” Our Development Department is under the direction of Service and Development Director Jim Kennedy, who has done an exceptional job of maintaining, promoting and expanding economic revitalization in Fairview Park. This department received its first full time employee dedicated to help assist with grants along with the many ongoing projects we have in place. Matt Hrubey, MPA, joins us in this position to partner with our local businesses and is our liaison to our Chamber and the Rotary. During Matt’s outreach to our local businesses, much exciting talk has developed in an area of town discovering a theme of
“Fairview Park has it all - if you’re planning a wedding.” In one small stretch of our business district you can get your wedding flowers from Terry Buddies Gift Hut and Floral Shop, engagement and wedding photos from Simply Deneen Photography, cake from Becker’s or Bakers Bakery at Tony G’s, your bridal dress from Dora’s Bridal Salon, and your chair covers from Finishing Touch. A brisk walk down the street in either direction from this wedding hub, you can get your wedding rings at Schreibman Jewelers, a cake at Mare’s, your honeymoon plans at Fairview Travel, your beauty day at numerous outstanding salons and spa’s, the Gemini Center for your rehearsal or reception and five beautiful churches in which to say “I Do.” Fairview Park is surely the wedding capital of the west side! We know one of the best ways to assist our local economy and our tax base is to aggressively pursue our target areas which will retain and bring the types of jobs that will add long term value to our community. We also realize that any true economic development initiative must be comprehensive and multifaceted. During the year, fourteen (14) occupancy permits were issued and the City welcomed these new businesses into our community: Simply Sweet Cupcakes, Cookies and More Grady Podiatry
Simply Deneen Photography Wally’s Hair Salon PH Kitchen Verona’s Wine and Beer Frickaccio’s Kitchen Market Troubadour Coffee and Espresso Catering Mohamed Shahed, M.D. Fat Cat’s Music Allied Behavioral Health Service, Inc. Corky’s of Fairview Park UHMP Comprehensive Pediatrics Dr. Haney Anton – Advanced Vascular Access, LLC. Major Undertakings that are ongoing include: NASA North Campus, Final Construction of North Coast Credit Union, Redevelopment of the MandlyVetrovsky Funeral Home, Redevelopment of the former Murton’s Childcare Building to Physicians’ Offices and the beautiful Garnett Health Campus, located on the former site of Garnett school and owned by John O’Neil has announced an late spring groundbreaking. With respect to the NASA north campus in Fairview Park, we are pleased to report that the sale of the buildings were approved by the General Services
Administration for a sale price of $1.2 million to a private equity group based out of Cleveland. The sale is due to transfer to this investment group in 60 days. The new owners state that these nine acres of land and 200,000 sq. ft of office space will be conducive to many types of uses such as a corporate headquarters, Aerospace Firms, and general office space. The city is committed to working with the new owners as this sale is extremely important for the well being of our city. We are very pleased that these new up-coming projects will continue the progress in our Development Department, ensuring an enhanced quality of life for the residents of Fairview Park. While the City greeted these new businesses during 2012, an existing business opted for self-improvement by taking advantage of the Storefront Renovation Program offered by the County. Participation resulted in dramatic improvements to the Josh Lorek building at West 219 and Lorain Rd. Looking ahead – last week we kicked off a public meeting to showcase our 2013 Master Plan for the city. Stay tuned for some exciting plans that we have on the horizon that pulls together our ideas on welcoming new developments while keeping the best of the past. We would also like to invite you to the sealing of our City Time Capsule on Monday, March 25 at 6:30 pm at city hall. Mike Green, a long time former resident and employee has worked endless hours in collecting
artifacts about our community and the great people who live here. The capsule ties together the past includes the present and will be opened in the future in 2062. As I end my report today I would like to share with you that I believe that Fairview Park is a special place. We have our challenges, but we also have exceptional resilience and strength. To our employees, thank you – I know you have made sacrifices with doing more with less. To city council, it is a pleasure to work with you as, together; we make decisions in moving our city forward. To our businesses, thank you for investing in our Fairview Park. To our residents, thank you for the pride you continue to have in our community. While our work is never done, I believe that we have come a long way toward attaining our goals of creating a destination place where families and the next generation of families want to call Fairview Park home. We will continue to strive to serve you well.