NORTH ROYALTON – Most would agree 2014 was a successful year.
Several projects on the city’s to-do list were checked off – Sprague Road’s resurfacing, the Cedar Estates Sewer Project, the new city hall.
It’s hard to top, especially when 2012 brought the North Royalton Family YMCA and 2013 the new library branch on Wallings Road, but as the saying goes, there’s always room for improvement and council and the mayor are brainstorming a new list of goals in 2015.
Mayor Bob Stefanik
One thing Stefanik is looking forward to in the coming year is seeking re-election.
This year begins his eighth year in office and the ending of his second four-year term. A North Royalton mayor may serve three consecutive terms, a total of 12 years.
“I think the city has made tremendous progress the past seven years, and we want to continue on that positive path of maintaining the services we offer our residents now and the financial stability that we have brought to the community,” Stefanik said. “We look forward to working with neighboring communities in a continuing effort to control the cost of services. We’re always working not only with the large, regional cities around us but also elected officials like County Councilman Mike Gallagher, State Sen. Tom Patton and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci.”
Being a voice for North Royalton on the regional front is also something Stefanik wants to maintain. He currently serves on boards of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, regularly attends meetings of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association and is a member of the Cleveland Water Council of Governors representing this section of the county.
“I think it’s important to stay involved in those associations, so we are able to realize our fair share of funding coming back to North Royalton,” he said.
Nudging the state to address what several city officials refer to as the “state’s problem,” the deer population, is also in his sights.
“We really want to get a final resolution on the regional deer issue. We’re hoping the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will recognize the difference between urban and rural in addressing the problem.”
Council President Larry Antoskiewicz
Antoskiewicz has beautification in mind in the New Year.
Developing and improving upon the city’s image was identified an objective in the 2013 master plan. Now that many major projects are handled, he would like to look at this.
“I want to continue to build on the beautification of some of our main streets. Can we do something with (state) Route 82 to spruce it up? I want to try to start looking into building the character and image of North Royalton,” he said. “Now that we’ve gotten most of the big projects out of the way, I definitely want to focus on that plan.”
He also wants the momentum this administration and council have attained to continue. He too will be seeking re-election.
“I am looking forward to building on the progress we’ve made and continue to move the city forward, and I want to be able to continue to serve the city in my capacity as council president in the future,” he said.
All of council and the mayor will be up for re-election next year if they all choose to try and keep their seats. Council president is a role Antoskiewicz has enjoyed immensely.
“As much as I enjoyed representing my ward, I enjoy representing the entire city, and I enjoy continuing to look at our council procedures and continuing to try to improve on them by increasing the efficiency, the effectiveness, the transparency in what we do.”
Ward 1 Councilman John Nickell
Finishing up Phase 1 and 2 of the Cedar Estates Sewer Project is first and foremost in the New Year for Nickell.
But, there are a few other things he has in mind including widening a 500-foot section of Royalton Road on the hill. When climbing the hill, the roadway is three lanes before tapering to two and then reopening back to three near the Bennett Road intersection. This poses a problem, Nickell said, in traffic.
“I want to see what the feasibility is to widen that area just before Car Quest. It always pinches traffic in the morning, and the whole side berm looks terrible. I’ll be asking for an estimate in streets (committee),” he said. “I’d like to see us, as a city, widen that part, so it streamlines the route.”
Like Antoskiewicz, Nickell said he too wants to beautify Royalton Road.
“I’d like to see some large planters soften the hard concrete and asphalt corridor,” he said.
Next up is improving the City Green. There is a walkway that runs east and west there and along Ridge Road but nothing that runs north and south through the green’s middle.
“When he have the Community Festival or the Pet Carnival, there is nowhere to really walk in the middle of the green. That might be a Parks and Rec thing and tie into ‘what do we do with the old city hall,’” Nickell said. “But now that we have some of the major projects done in the city, we need to start looking at some of these other things.”
Ward 2 Councilman Gary Petrusky
Streets, storm water and safety forces are at the top of Petrusky’s 2015 list.
“An early premonition is that we will be increasing our safety forces a bit which is always good,” he said, referring to two hires planned to replace those retiring.
He said he’s also still waiting to see the final outcome of Sprague Road.
“The road is in and done, and I’m happy with that,” he said. “But, they still have some ditch work to do.”
Other projects he’s eying is the repaving of Bennett between Edgerton Road and Bridgewater Drive and watershed/retention basin issues. Continued maintenance is also important to him.
“Maintenance is a good thing. By maintaining our roads with crack sealing, catch basin work and fixing some of the paneling, we’re making our streets last longer,” he said.
Deer is another objective moving into 2015.
“I want to see how the state elected officials plan to deal with the deer population in our urban area,” he said.
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw
Reaching out to residents is a continued priority for Langshaw, who keeps track of all his constituent interactions.
“This year alone, I’ve helped more than 140 residents in Ward 3. That’s up since last year, which is good. I’ve been able to get out to more residents. That’s a big part of my job, and I love doing it,” he said.
The housing market is one area he plans to monitor in the coming year, in terms of blight.
“I’m interested in the housing market and ways to do that, ways to encourage responsible housing. Blight is one thing we are trying to combat. We’ve done a lot to address violations. I want to look at ways to improve the housing market and economic development and that’s something I will be brainstorming and working on in 2015,” Langshaw said.
Incorporating the recommendations from the master plan is also something he really wants to pursue. Voters did approve 14 zoning changes introduced during the master plan process, including the creation of a senior citizen district for future housing near York and Royalton roads.
“We have already accomplished a lot, we have updated the zoning map, completed the city hall, the library, the YMCA. But there are more things I want to get in to like the identity of the city, working on the infrastructure, bringing more business here to make North Royalton a great place to live, work and play.”
Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck
Marnecheck said the past seven years, the city has been addressing long overdue problems, and his hope is that now the city can begin to be more proactive and preventative.
“I am looking forward to continued progress. I look forward to a high degree of preventative maintenance,” he said. “The past seven years have been spent addressing long overdue problems. Now, I hope we can nip problems in the bud and be proactive.”
One other item still gnawing at him and making his mouth water is the closed Tonight Tonight restaurant. He wants to see it revamped and reopened.
“I am still hoping for a nice sit down restaurant that I can take my wife to for date night,” he said. “I am not giving up on this. I hope Tonight Tonight hears my plea and that of the silent majority and reopens.”
Ward 5 Councilman Steve Muller
Bennett Road is also something Muller is looking forward to seeing addressed.
The half of roadway that has deteriorated most lies in his ward.
“So it will be nice to see that project get started in 2015 and completed as we move through the year,” he said.
From a storm water standpoint, Muller, who chairs the storm water committee, is hoping the New Year is a lot drier. The May 12 storm wreaked havoc on this region. The city had to combat several projects in the storm’s wake, but many of the dollars spent are being recouped from the state. The remaining projects left to do will be handled in the spring.
“I hope we have a quieter year. With the state providing relief for some of these projects, I’d like to see those started. We are supposed to get those finalized and bid out early in the year. Hopefully that work is completed in the springtime. It’ll be good to see,” he said.
Aukerman Park, in his ward, is beginning to show signs of life, which has him encouraged.
“It’s getting started now with the parking lot,” he said. “Hopefully they can get started on the pathway soon. I do have residents that would like to begin utilizing that.”
Ward 6 Councilman Dan Kasaris
Kasaris echoed Muller and agrees that the repaving of Bennett is a huge project that anyone living in Ward 5 and 6 is likely rooting for.
He cites the continued development of state Route 82 and neighboring streets as another city objective.
“It’s important to diversify our economic base,” he said. “And I want to see the city moving forward as well as it has been moving forward the past five or six years.”
Kasaris has also long been an advocate of sidewalks. He’d like to see them poured where they make sense throughout the city.
“So we accommodate pedestrian traffic, bicyclists and anyone else who wants to go from point A to point B without driving a car,” he said.
Deer are also in his crosshairs this year.
“The deer in our community, this really does need to be resolved. The issue of the overpopulation poses a safety hazard to our residents no matter what street they live on,” he said. “The state, the ODNR, they own the deer, and they need to do something about it.”