By Sue Botos
A recent search for a copy of the June Cleveland Magazine proved to be futile, but it’s no wonder. Rocky River residents, their friends and family members have been snapping up the publication.
In its annual “Rating the Suburbs” issue, the local “holy grail” of suburban pride, the city was rated second overall behind Solon. This was a big climb from 2012, when the city was No. 10. Other West Side suburbs making the top 20 were Avon (No. 3), Westlake (No. 4) and Bay Village (No. 5).
A total of 77 communities in the Greater Cleveland area were rated, with the top 20 choices tallying the highest combined scores and best performance in all combined categories. Those categories include education, community service, walkability and safety.
In the education category, the city schools also rated second behind Solon. The city scored at the top for community service, and was noted for having 94.7 percent of streets bordered by sidewalks.
Despite having a smaller population, the city ranked near the top for number of 2012 home sales, at 306. The median home price of $198,000 dropped only 3.4 percent during the recession years of 2007 to 2012.
In the area of safety, the city posted a middle-of-the-pack 38.
In addition, an insert section spotlights Rocky River, and there are interviews with Mayor Pam Bobst and block party planner Kathleen Wischmeier.
“We’re No. 2, so we’ll try harder,” quipped Bobst, referencing the Avis rental car slogan. She said she especially was pleased to see the section about block parties, a summer staple in many of the city’s neighborhoods. “Block parties do more in this community than government does,” she added. In her magazine discussion, she said that there are about 50 of the galas throughout the city each year.
One of those gatherings has been taking place on Stratford Avenue for 29 years, and Wischmeier has been co-chair for the past two. In her feature, she gives several tips for party planning, including getting a permit. In Rocky River, this is required if a street will be blocked. Police will deliver orange barrels and temporary partitions. Some busier streets in the city cannot be totally closed. Making everyone welcome, aided by name tags, and friendly competition with games and potluck dishes are also advised.
The supplement, copies of which are available at City Hall, highlights the city schools, noting the Blue Ribbon awards for St. Christopher School, Kensington Intermediate, Rocky River Middle School and the high school.
Upgrades to Rocky River Park, including easier accessibility for disabled visitors and improved landscaping for a better lake view, are featured, as well as brief stories about new additions to the city, such as K-9 officer Diego, and the Green Team.
The unique shops and restaurants of Old Detroit, Linda Street, Beachcliff and Detroit Road also take center stage. Over the past few years, the city has been securing grants, allocating funds and drumming up partnerships with business owners with the intent of creating a unified Downtown River from these areas.
At a recent City Council meeting, Bobst noted that business owner John Speilberger has been a great help, having donated the letters for the Old River sign and flowers for planters on the street. “He has quietly done so many things to support Downtown River,” she stated.
Although she is pleased with the attention the city has received in the magazine, there is one result of which Bobst is especially proud. A survey question posed to about 400 area residents asked, “If money were no issue, where would you choose to live?” The No. 1 answer out of the 77 communities was Rocky River.