NORTH ROYALTON – At the beginning of each new year, the mayor and city council take time to share with The North Royalton Post a few projects, loose ends or issues they would like to focus on or see tackled in the months ahead.
From excitement surrounding the city’s 200th birthday and bicentennial festivities, the City Green pavilion construction to concern filling vacancies at Timber Ridge Plaza or the reopening of Tonight Tonight, here are their individual wish lists for 2018.
Mayor Bob Stefanik
The bicentennial is on many elected officials’ minds.
Stefanik has formed a committee to spearhead all the festivities planning. Dates are being firmed up but the celebration will likely begin in late July and run through mid-August.
“People have pitched several great suggestions including the bicentennial ball and the old-fashioned community picnic,” he said.
Something else on his mind has been the Timber Ridge Plaza at York and Sprague roads.
“A new year brings on new frustrations as we continue to work with a property owner that is less than enthusiastic about filling his vacancies,” Stefanik said, referring to Carter Properties. “It seems every year we sit down with the property owner, even bringing him possible tenants, but most of the discussion seems to fall on deaf ears.”
Despite failed attempts to develop a plan with the property owner, Stefanik said the city will continue to do everything it can to fill the vacancies.
In 2018, his mission is simple, “provide outstanding services to our residents without further burdening them with additional taxes.”
“The previous 10 years, we have only asked the voters to reinstate the 1.7 mills to the exact amount the residents were paying in the 1990s for emergency medical services. We have learned to do more with less without burdening our residents with higher taxes,” he said.
Council President Larry Antoskiewicz
Antoskiewicz said focus will be the key word for 2018.
His goal is to not lose focus on the main items the city needs to accomplish – continuing to improve roads, continuing to work on stormwater issues, continuing to look at the infrastructure and address any issues – while planning the bicentennial and pavilion project.
Though there is excitement building for these two items specifically, city officials must stay focused on the tasks at hand, he said.
“When you have a few glitzy projects or events for the year, it’s easy to lose focus on all the necessary things we still need to do,” he added.
Plans and groundwork for things to come in the new year have already been formulated, so the focus will be on execution, he said. Once the bicentennial and pavilion are complete, there is still work to be done at the end of the day.
“I just want to keep myself and council focused on a lot of the main issues, the everyday issues that we have in the city because those ultimately become the most important,” Antoskiewicz said.
Ward 1 Councilman John Nickell
Nickell said North Royalton experienced a good year in 2017, and he wants that momentum to continue: roads, such as Tilby, are being resurfaced; the new recycling bins are showing increased use and tonnage collected; the service department is repairing streets and keeping snowy roads plowed; the safety forces dealt with some tough things, he said, thanking departments.
Nickell wants to see continued effort on roads, pedestrian pathways and economic development this year.
“One thing I would like to see is the addition of about 700 feet of the third lane on the state Route 82 hill traveling up where it pinches down for that short bit by the auto parts store. I would like to see more physical completion of pedestrian pathways from the center of town to the new Metroparks path starting in 2018. I would like to see us be more creative to find a tenant for the former Tops at Timber Ridge Plaza now as the economy is starting to take off,” he said.
The City Green pavilion project and bicentennial are two priorities.
He wants to see the city do the pavilion right, adding a pathway through the center of the Green; bench swings; and a script sign to the overlook for photo opportunities.
“As I look toward our 200th birthday in 2018, I believe we live in one of the best communities in northeast Ohio, and I have been privileged to be part of our city council.”
Ward 2 Councilman Gary Petrusky
The North Royalton Family YMCA has been a popular addition to the community, so much so that Petrusky said it is seeing an influx of users. He believes an expansion may be in order.
“It’s in my ward, I’m up there four or five times a week. I’ve noticed there is a lot of volume of people using the facilities at the YMCA, it’s tight in there. Adding on to allow for more programming and space is something I am interested in,” he said.
There are a few streets in his ward he would like to see some type of improvements on too.
“When the street ranking comes out, I would like to see how those fall,” he said.
Petrusky said the city is on solid ground and operating efficiently as it moves into another year.
“We have over the last couple of years created accounts for aging equipment, for streets, for stormwater, for future retirement payouts. We are doing a great job getting the most bang for our buck and really streamlining how we spend so we won’t have these huge fluctuations in capital. I think we are in a good place right now,” he said.
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw
Langshaw said he will focus on constituent service, economic development and the City Green this year.
“Upholding a high level of constituent service for my residents of Ward 3 is extremely important to me and I am always looking at ways I can do more as a leader,” he said.
He is using web-based software to help better track and respond to resident issues. He has also applied for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department’s Citizens Academy in hopes of being selected for the 2018 class to gain insight on ways to improve public safety while supporting first responders.
As for economic development, he wants to find new ways to continue to foster a more business friendly environment to retain existing businesses, attract new and encourage residents to shop North Royalton and plans to meet with business leaders and key stakeholders to help find creative ways to achieve this.
The bicentennial and City Green improvements are priorities.
“This project is something I am excited about because it builds upon the progress of our city master plan, specifically improving the overall image and character of our city,” he said.
Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck
Marnecheck said he sees a year brimming with potential.
“2018 will be the 200th birthday for North Royalton, and I think our town is on the rise. The new City Green pavilion, with the proposed majestic views, would provide the perfect opportunity for a late night stroll after a wonderful meal from one of our great restaurants. While the date night options in town have improved this past year, I again find myself hoping Tonight Tonight will reopen before 2018 is in the history books,” he said.
Marnecheck believes the city will soon begin seeing a return on investments.
“We have invested millions into our roads, stormwater systems and other infrastructure projects. Our city crews have been relentless in working to make real improvements. There are still a few nagging issues, which hopefully can now be tackled under our ‘worst first’ system. The city finances seem to finally be recovered from the 2009 great recession, and we can keep making real progress,” he said.
On a personal note, he’s looking forward to 2018’s sunny summer and, “riding my bike in the Cleveland Metroparks on the new (All-Purpose) trail, and perhaps visiting our new archery range.”
Ward 5 Councilwoman Cheryl Hannan
Hannan said 2018 will definitely be one for the history books.
“We will celebrate our city’s bicentennial in a way that our predecessors might appreciate: though much has changed, much has remained quaintly the same. We will transform our village green into a picturesque gathering place that our entire community can continue to enjoy. And we will tend to our city cemetery to honorably respect the people who made this city great,” she said.
In Ward 5 specifically, the expansion of Royalton Road east of West 130th Street, planned to begin this year, will inarguably present both challenges and opportunities.
“My personal goal is to keep our residents and businesses fully apprised of the status and conditions of work so as to minimize the inconvenience and disruption that may result from this badly needed project,” Hannan said.
The development of Bennett’s Corners remains a paramount concern.
“The field has been cleared and prepared for retail development within our rural community. In 2018, I hope to see new thoughtful business opportunities in an area ripe for growth,” she said.
She views 2018 as an opportunity to continue what she enjoyed in 2017: getting out into the community to meet with residents, talk to them about their issues and concerns and work with public servants to address those issues.
Ward 6 Councilman Dan Kasaris
Kasaris said his residents are priority No. 1 in 2018.
“Continuing to serve the citizens of Ward 6 who have entrusted me with their faith and beliefs that I will do the best job I possibly can for them,” he said.
He also believes in the ‘if you build it, they will come’ philosophy when it comes to the City Green pavilion.
“If we make it attractive, people will come. I look forward to the pavilion being constructed at the old city hall site providing an additional recreation area for our residents, featuring an awesome view of the southern part of our city,” he said. “However, we need to make sure that we do it right, installing the proper amenities to make sure that people will actually use it.”
Speaking of recreation, Kasaris is anxious for the completion of the Cleveland Metroparks All-Purpose Trail.
“I also look forward to providing an opportunity to get to the expanded trail by extending sidewalks to the trail, providing further recreation and fitness to our residents,” he said.
The widening of state Route 82 and the commercial growth it will undoubtedly bring is also in sight.
Kasaris too hopes the bicentennial celebration is something to talk about, “that people will remember and talk about during the tricentennial.”