By Kevin Kelley
AUDIO PODCAST OF MAYOR’S SPEECH (MP3 file)
In her annual State of the City report to the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Eileen Patton described her community as displaying “exceptional resilience and strength.”
In addition to being important during recent financial hard times, those qualities served the city well last fall when Superstorm Sandy blew through town.
Sandy’s power was evident in photos of large, downed trees the mayor showed during her presentation at the Gemini Center March 13. During a 30-hour period, the city’s fire department received 53 storm-related calls, Patton recalled. The police and service departments also responded admirably, the mayor said.
“The crews worked nonstop clearing debris from neighborhoods and our streets,” Patton said of the city’s service department.“
Many residents went door to door down their streets notifying neighbors on the locations of available shelters and the latest updates on when electrical power would be restored, Patton recalled.
“All of these entities working together made safety and cleanup a classic case study of what local government should do in meeting he needs of a community during a crisis,” she said.
Patton began her breakfast speech with a plug of Fit In Fairview, a exercise and health program sponsored by the recreation department.
“The program is not about showing up and losing weight,” Patton said. “It’s about getting your life in order and taking a good look at what changes can be made. It’s listening and learning from the professional doctors that visit and walk with you each week, and it’s also about teaming up with Fairview Hospital’s Straight From the Heart Program, because a team effort produces success.”
The mayor applied the fitness theme to the municipality she leads, saying each city department has had to become lean and mean as a result of the difficult economic times of recent years.
Ohio’s elimination of the estate tax and cuts to the local government fund will mean the city is in for a difficult economic period, the mayor said.
“We must and we will continue our efforts to enhance Fairview Park’s financial stature by moving forward in our efforts at economic redevelopment throughout the community,” Patton said.
“One can only imagine the more demanding financial burdens we would be facing today if we did not embark on our path and our goals of economic development 14 years ago,” Patton said. “We are very pleased that 11 of the 16 largest workforce businesses in our city have been established under this administration.”
Several development projects are either now underway or on the horizon, Patton said, including the redevelopment of the two vacant NASA buildings on Brookpark Road. The mayor noted the federal General Services Administration last month approved the sale of that property to a local private equity group for $1.2 million.
“The city is committed to working with the new owners, as this sale is extremely important to the well-being of our community,” Patton said.
Groundbreaking for the planned nursing home and assisted living facility at the former Gannett School site is planned for the late spring, the mayor added.
The city’s police department upgraded its technology, including radios and fingerprinting equipment, during the past year, the mayor reported. A grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security provided the department with an automatic license plate scanning system that has been installed on one patrol car, she said. Last year Fairview Hospital provided four new automated electronic defribrilators, which are now in all of the department’s patrol cars, Patton said.
Kenn Kaminski was appointed last year as the new recreation department director. The 5-year-old Gemini Center, which has 6,542 members, has become “focal gathering point of the city,” Patton said, serving all ages.
The city’s property maintenance program inspected 3,000 residences from the street last year in an effort to keep up the community’s housing stock, Patton reported.
To prevent basement flooding, the city spent $452,000 on new sewer projects last year, Patton reported.
“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 would like to call Fairview Park home,” Patton said.