By Sue Botos
Safety, services, and sensible budget is the mantra which Bobbie Van Atta says will form the platform for her bid for an at-large seat on City Council in the November general election.
The 24-year resident of Rocky River narrowly lost the race for council in 2009, coming up 101 votes short of the 3,719 tallied by former school board member Jim Schieda. VanAtta ran on a slate with incumbents Dave Furry and Anjanette Arabian Whitman.
“I’m familiar with the procedure of meetings, and will work for the best interests of the city,” said VanAtta recently. She added that her 8 years of service on the city board of zoning and building appeals, plus her experience as a lawyer dealing with municipal issues gives her a solid background on the workings of the city. She is also current co-president of the Rocky River Historical Society where she has served on the board of directors for 8 years, and has been active in PTA.
“It’s important to work with residents and keep them in the city,” remarked Van Atta, adding that due to her experience with the zoning and building board she is comfortable speaking with residents and is in tune with their concerns.
According to VanAtta, the most critical issue facing the city is budgeting. “Council and the Mayor have done a fantastic job in a terrible economy producing a sensible budget,” said VanAtta, stating that she would work with council to keep a careful eye on dollars.
Safety forces must also be maintained, according to VanAtta, as well as what she called the city’s “outstanding services”. She continued, “As non-glamorous as garbage pick-up is, it is a very important service.”
The concern over development of Center Ridge Road and the Rockport Shopping Center also tops Van Atta’s list of projects. She explained that the two major former tenants Giant Eagle and Target have paid out their leases and that the center owner, Wald and Fisher, is actively trying to rent out the buildings at the market rate.
“This is a big concern for all of Rocky River, not just those residents (living close by), stated Van Atta. She said that her idea for the property would start with making it look more attractive, adding some green space and benches along Center Ridge, and converting the area in which some buildings have been demolished, into parking.
“We could make it a destination and a draw for users,” she remarked, adding that the center could be linked by walking trails to residential areas to the south. Van Atta said the retail space could be home to cafes and artist studios, which currently are lacking in the southern end of town.
VanAtta also said that she would like to speak with Police Chief Kelly Stillman about setting up an organization similar to the Police Athletic League for middle school and high school aged students. She said that many students this age want play competitive sports, but not necessarily for school teams, and that the only option is expensive club teams. “This would give the police the opportunity to know them (the students) on a personal basis,” she continued, suggesting that officers could help coach the teams, and parents could help fund them.
VanAtta said she decided to run for council because after spending so many years with the board of zoning and building appeals, she wants to expand her work with the city. “I’m familiar with the folks at city hall. It will be an enjoyable and easy transition it I’m given the opportunity,” she promised.