(Video produced by Cox Communications)
By Kevin Kelley
Nelson Russ Park will be the focus of attention for recreation Director Steve Owens in 2016 and beyond, Mayor Eileen Patton said Thursday in her state of the community report, delivered jointly with Fairview Park City Schools Superintendent Bill Wagner.
Named after the city’s first recreation director, the 4.6-acre park is largely empty after the recreation department headquarters was relocated to the Gemini Center when that facility opened in 2008. But Patton has long expressed her intention to remake the park.
“This site has much potential, and we would like to make the best use of this space for our community,” Patton said.
“So, anyone that’s here tonight, if you live in that neighborhood, please see us later because we are going to put you on a committee,” the mayor said in a remark that drew audience laughter.
In other park news, the mayor noted that late last year the state’s Department of Natural Resources awarded the city $139,000 to purchase and install new playground equipment at Grannis Park this year.
“The purpose of this project is to transform the existing 1.3-acre underutilized
neighborhood park into an attractive, fully accessible space by replacing outdated equipment with a new, safe ADA-accessible playground,” the mayor said of the park, located in Ward 1 between the Fairview Park Apartments and West 202nd Street.
The city’s Lorain Road business district is also a focus of future efforts. Patton noted Fairview Park is seeking a $53,400 grant from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) to develop a plan to make the area more accessible and easier to navigate.
Patton said a second goal of the plan would be to stimulate private reinvestment in the district’s storefronts.
“Unfortunately, in the downtown Fairview Park district, the adjective ‘tired’ has been used to describe the commercial building stock, which has become a topic of concern with our residents and the city alike,” Patton said. “It is our hope to leverage the community … during the planning process and to encourage more property owners into reinvesting in their properties. With a little time and effort, these available storefronts are ripe for established small-business shops and for home-based businesses seeking a commercial location.”
The mayor also noted Lorain Road, from West 223rd Street to the North Olmsted border, is the focus of a major streetscape plan to be completed in 2017.
Patton noted numerous public events, civic organizations and volunteer efforts that give Fairview Park a sense of community.
“Every resident enjoys their community when it has a ‘hometown’ feeling and charming atmosphere,” the mayor said.
Among the programs mentioned by the mayor were the America in Bloom gardening program, Freshen Up Fairview and Adopt-a-Tombstone at Fairview Park Cemetery, as well as the Food Truck Festival, Winterfest and Summerfest.
Open communication with the public is a priority of her administration, Patton said.
“Having a clear strategy to communicate with residents and keep them informed – that’s not an option,” the mayor said. “We believe it’s a requirement.”
Patton also hailed the suburb’s healthy home sales, as well as the 30 new families moving into the new RiverSouth Modern Ecohomes townhouses at the eastern end of Lorain Road. She also noted that the 18 new houses proposed for the Coffinberry neighborhood, if approved by City Council, will be the suburb’s first new neighborhood since the early 1990s.