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New safety service Director Costello looks forward to challenges and changes

Rocky River

By Sue Botos

Newly appointed safety-service Director Mary Kay Costello has hit the ground running, literally.

Having just completed a meeting with Mayor Pam Bobst, Costello recently was troubleshooting a phone problem, along with police Chief Kelly Stillman, while also meeting with another visitor.

But, as she had learned from her mentor, former safety service Director Jim Linden, multitasking is the name of the game.

“I learned an awful lot from him. He was very generous with sharing information, and it was a privilege to work with him,” stated Costello, who had served as safety service coordinator for six years prior to her new appointment.

Costello, a native of Westlake, has worked for Rocky River a total of 22 years, beginning in the judge’s assignment room of the Rocky River Municipal Court during her undergraduate studies at Cleveland State University. She also worked in the billing department and as administrative assistant in the fire chief’s office.

After receiving her master’s degree in urban affairs from CSU, Costello came on board with the building department, where she worked until becoming safety service coordinator in 2006.

Costello said she is looking forward to a busy construction season, which will feature continuation of the Hampton sewer project north of Interstate 90 and the trial of a new paving process on Avalon Drive. She said this procedure involves a special emulsion that will provide a smooth surface until sewer work can begin on the street. Used successfully in Cleveland Heights for about 14 years, Costello said the material holds up well and is not distinguishable from the regular surface.

It’s estimated that it will take about five years before the Avalon work gets under way, and Costello noted that this is part of the larger Beachcliff/Frazier sewer work. “Avalon is the next big section. Jim always used the analogy of the pulmonary system, and Avalon is an artery that we want to make sure is healthy,” she stated.

The pilot project will also determine whether the material can be used for partial resurfacing of other streets. “It’s important for us to know. There are other streets with decent sewers, but have sections that could use repaving,” Costello noted.

She also described another project, totally funded by the Ohio EPA, which will take place in the City Hall employee parking lot and will demonstrate the management of stormwater. “The $160,284 SWIF (Surface Water Improvement Fund) grant that we received from the Ohio EPA was one of the highest in that round. They have been very generous,” she stated. City Council has recently given the go-ahead to the engineering firm URS Corp. to do the planning work for the site, which could include vegetation and special surface treatments designed to draw water back into the ground rather than into overworked storm sewers.

“The water will be handled in such a way that it becomes part of a system,” Costello said. She added that there will be signs posted describing the process. The improvements will be low maintenance, and something attractive to land developers. “We want this to be something easily put into place,” she stated.

Costello knows she has some big shoes to fill after the departure of Linden. “After working with Jim, it would be hard to suffer someone else’s agenda,” said Costello, who recalled the actions of Linden and Mayor Pam Bobst during Superstorm Sandy. “They literally stood in front of the CEI crews and got them to stay,” said Costello, adding, “The mayor is phenomenal. I don’t know anyone who works harder than she does. I don’t want to let her down. That’s my only pressure.”

While Linden left behind his safety-service badge and a wealth of advice for Costello, the one thing he didn’t leave, being noted for his “old school” approach, was a computer. She said that moving her machine from her former work area into her new office will be one of the biggest changes in store.

 

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