2014 State of the City Address

City of Euclid
State of the City Address
February 3, 2014
By Mayor Bill Cervenik

It is an honor to present to you my 11th State of the City Address. Residents, council members, businesses owners, organizations and neighborhood leaders, I want to thank you for your hard work over the past decade. By working together, we have been fortunate to celebrate a number of significant victories since we last convened.

We are learning and preparing how to meet the needs and challenges of our future. The business community has discovered that city hall is more capable and more willing than ever before to be responsive to their needs. We treat every business as our partner, and view “their” success, as “our” success.

As far as we have come, our work is not yet complete. That is why 2014 will be our most important year yet. Although there may be only slightly more than 600 days left in my term as mayor, it is my full intention to make every day count. My goal is to position the city for success for many years to come.

No one person can do this alone. We must work together. Call us a city in transition; call us a city of change. I think we are the best city in America. We have the people, the community and the desire to get even better.

As a CPA, I am inclined to start with what I believe are the fundamentals. Instituting sound, long-term financial practices, making the difficult choices, maintaining sufficient cash balances, modernizing operations of city departments, and maintaining our superior services.

We have built up our cash reserves to over $4 million dollars during one of the most difficult and hostile financial environments in the history of our region, and have maintained our strong financial rating from Moody’s.

The rising cost of health care will continue to present a tremendous challenge. A health care strategy committee has been established, with its members representing the safety forces, both union and non-union employees, working in partnership with human resource manager Letitia linker and consultants from the Fedeli Group. The committee is developing a phased in approach that will reduce health care costs over the next three years by nearly $1 million dollars, and to create a model intended to raise the employee’s share of total health care costs to 15%. A wellness program is being structured that will educate and encourage employees and their families in the making of decisions that promote a healthier lifestyle and serve to avoid serious illness.

A substantial savings has also been achieved in our workers compensation costs. The thorough review and hands-on approach with our employees has allowed us to decrease our projected total cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars for 2014 and 2015. The focus on accident prevention, early identification and active case management of work-related injuries, enables the city to provide excellent care and rehabilitation to our injured employees while accelerating their return to work.

The efficient and fair use of taxpayer dollars has been and will continue to be a pillar of my administration.

I love Euclid. Euclid is perfect for me. You may have heard that phrase before. I am proud to note that over the past year many businesses and organizations have realized that Euclid is perfect for them as well. As a result, in 2013, as the economy continued to recover, Euclid experienced its own building boom.

This past year, Ray Fogg Business Systems broke ground on the first building at Bluestone Business Park. The 103,000 square foot industrial facility features 32 foot high ceilings and a flexible floor plan. Remedi Seniorcare, the first tenant, is a pharmaceutical distribution company which plans to occupy about one third of the building and bring at least 115 new jobs to our city. Developers have projected that the bluestone site could bring more than 1,000 jobs and more than 1 million square feet of new office and industrial space into the City.

The Ohio Department of Transportation opened a new full service maintenance garage at Babbitt Road and St. Clair. At least forty full time employees will work out of this facility.

University hospitals commenced construction of their $11 million dollar, 24,000 square foot state-of-the-art medical office building to replace the existing outdated facility at their East 185th Street and Lakeshore Boulevard location.

This represents a major investment and is a powerful vote of confidence by University Hospitals of their commitment to the 185th Street area.

Also in 2013, Mesocoat, sister company of Euclid-based Powdermet, opened its first full-scale pipe cladding facility on Rockwell Drive. Mesocoat is a high tech, high growth company that combined with Powdermet employs 56 people. This 11,000 square foot facility represents an investment of $6.3 million.

Small and medium sized businesses have also been thriving in the City.

The City, for the first time hosted the “Black Pages Ohio” “MBE to MBE” development event. “Black Pages Ohio” was established to provide the African-American business community with a business resource guide and directory. The purpose of this event was to motivate minority business enterprises to do business with one another and to form collaborative partnerships. The event was extremely well attended, drawing over 300 participants with over 20 corporate sponsors. Due to the resounding success of the event, the City is looking forward to playing host once again to a similar function in the spring.

Petfix of Northeast Ohio, LLC. Opened the doors to a newly renovated facility on East 222nd Street. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to ending pet overpopulation by promoting the importance of spaying and neutering, and providing these services that are affordable and accessible.

Yogurt City held a grand opening ceremony celebrating the City’s first frozen yogurt shop. Featuring more than 40 flavors and toppings, we can all agree that it is a ‘sweet’ addition to the City.

This January, City Council approved the entering into a purchase and development agreement with the Help Foundation to move its corporate headquarters and twenty plus employees to Century Corners on Euclid Avenue. The Help Foundation empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges, by providing both residential and day support and vocational education programs that assists them in choosing services and opportunities as respected, valued and contributing members of the community.

More recently, a new, yet to be named restaurant was announced in the underutilized building at the end of East 219th Street and Lakeshore, adding another venue to our existing popular downtown restaurants. Imagine sitting on a patio, enjoying a locally sourced, organic meal in the open air, right here at home. That is the future of Euclid.

A personal favorite of mine, Mama Catenas, recently announced an expansion of their current Babbitt Road restaurant, doubling the seating space while retaining the true family atmosphere, the tremendous Italian entree’s and oh yes, their “beautiful soup”. It is a good time to be hungry in the city of Euclid.

I am proud to announce that for the first time a business environment survey will be distributed to all business owners regardless of size. This important effort will help our Planning & Development staff identify and build upon our strengths and address and eliminate our weaknesses.

A newsletter tailored to our business community is being developed to fortify communication channels between the business community and my administration.

It is truly the perfect time to do business in the city of Euclid.

With the supportive attitude and commitment of Council President Holzheimer Gail and all the members of Euclid Council, we will continue to further our business retention and expansion efforts in order to cultivate a fertile and supportive environment where businesses of all sizes can flourish.

The City of Euclid benefits from having the most professional, well-trained and decorated first responders in the State of Ohio.

Today, our Police Department works hand and hand with community leaders to stem crime and delinquency, fostering an environment based on trust and cooperation. As a result of their tireless efforts and commitment to community outreach, a number of our police officers received special recognition this past year.

Officer Ed Bonchak was recognized by The Greater Cleveland Safe Kids/ Safe Communities Coalition as their 2013 Officer of The Year.

Officers Alcantara, Beese, and Screngi were recognized by the American legion Post #343 for their efforts in rescuing an injured driver from a burning vehicle. The news and video of the heroic rescue was talked about nationally.

The Euclid Police Department provides unique community policing programs. Sergeant Mike Knack serves in a special capacity in the business community as a Crime Prevention Specialist.

The 4th grade “Hooked on Fishing” program was reinstituted this year, bringing smiles to the faces of the children as they reeled in their first catch.

Safety Town was offered again this year for those youngsters entering kindergarten, and was conducted in partnership with the Euclid City Schools, the Euclid Public Library, and the special assistance of the graduates of the new Youth Citizens Police Academy.

The Euclid Citizens Police Academy, Block and Apartment Watch, Juvenile Diversion and “Coffee with a Cop” are all programs that promote residents engagement with the Euclid Police Department.

This past year, fourteen new officers took the oath of office, replacing retiring officers and increasing staffing of the department.

The year 2013 was another busy year for the Euclid Fire Department as they answered 8,426 calls for help. EMS incidents comprised 86 percent of our call volume. The average response time to any emergency was five and one half minutes. This is well below the national recommended standard of eight minutes.

Members of the Euclid Fire Department completed over 3,500 hours of training and actively participate in the Regional Heights Area Specialized Rescue Team (HASRT). As a result, a number of our Firefighter/Paramedics were recognized for their skill and quick action in the performance of their duties.

Ff/Medics Fleck, Offutt and Retallick detected a lethal heart rhythm while performing an EKG on a male with chest pains. They administered medications on transport to hillcrest, where doctors were able to open a blocked artery. If not for the training and identification of the severe condition, he would have died.

A full-term pregnant female involved in an auto accident had no pulse and was not breathing when Lt. Northup and Ff/medics Murray, Reichman, Barry and Mann were on the scene. CPR and other procedures were administered. The woman and her new baby survived, in large part due to the actions and decisions of these men. They are under consideration for the State of Ohio “Star of Life Award”, the highest EMS award that can be received.

The Euclid Fire Department has been working on a collaborative effort with the Euclid High School and Cuyahoga County Community College to establish a fire/ems academy for qualified juniors and seniors. It is hoped the graduates of this academy will go on to acquire the required paramedic training and one day this homegrown talent will become members of the Euclid Fire Department.

Administratively, the Euclid Fire Department saw six members retire in 2013 with a combined 169 years of service to the Euclid community.

In a few weeks, Chief Tom Cosgriff will be retiring from the department after 33 years of service. His leadership will truly be missed. The department has reached new heights of professionalism and expertise under his tenure. I have the utmost confidence, however, that our next chief, Christopher Haddock, will continue to provide the leadership and dedication to keep the Euclid Fire Department the best in the State of Ohio and beyond.

You can be certain that the continued safety of our city is non-negotiable.

As we start 2014, we are well underway with the improvements to our sewer collection and treatment system to allow us to meet the 2025 deadline established by our agreement with the federal government. You will see construction related to sewer improvements on several streets. These projects will help us provide our children and grandchildren with a lake that is as healthy as it is beautiful.

In an effort to best use our resources, we will replace a line running up Babbitt Road from Lakeshore to the freeway that is part of our treatment system and, at the same time, include a waterline that allows us to reuse treated water for non-drinking purposes at city property. Not only will we reduce our fresh water consumption, but we will save ratepayer dollars in the process.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the members of the Service Department and the duties they perform on a daily basis. Recently, we have had to deal with a number of extreme weather events, and their professionalism and dedication to our residents was never more evident. They help make us the city of superior services.

Now, I would like to share our plans to keep Euclid on track to a brighter tomorrow.

The Downtown Euclid Transportation and Redevelopment Plan has laid the groundwork to reconfigure and redevelop our downtown, and subsequently, redefine the City of Euclid’s image and quality of life. Last year, we successfully secured the first $1.5 million for this work and will continue to pursue the remaining funding needed to undertake the project.

In 2014, we adopted a comprehensive TLCI plan for Euclid Avenue. Along with the residents, businesses and city council members, we will begin to implement the initial improvements called for in the plan, such as an electric message board on the city’s south side.

In 2014, we will also continue to pursue market-based strategies to redevelop chronically under-utilized properties in our city, such as the former Holzheimer’s on Lakeshore Boulevard and Lakeshore Chevy on East 185th Street.

Speaking of East 185th Street, I am proud to announce, that in partnership with the City of Cleveland and Northeast Shores Development Corp. and Cuyahoga County we were recently awarded the funding for the E. 185th Street TLCI Grant which will become a redevelopment and reinvestment plan for a critical commercial and residential corridor in the city.

These plans and improvements represent the comprehensive modernization of Euclid’s infrastructure and strengthening of our business districts. With your support, we are rebuilding our city and I want to thank you for your commitment to making Euclid the best city in America.

As the City of Euclid continues to rebound from the recession, improving the quality of life for residents has been at the core of my approach to guiding the city through this difficult time.

The hallmark achievement of 2013 was the grand opening of the new fishing pier at Sims Park. The new pier extends more than 250 feet into the lake and is 44 feet at its widest point. It includes a custom designed shade pavilion and a fishing platform protected by a stone break wall. Having completed phase one of a three phase waterfront plan; engineering design is underway for the remaining portion of the project. These phases will include additional walking paths in Sims Park that connect to a multi-purpose trail and boardwalk along the shoreline; the restoration of the historic beaches which once existed in the area; and a future breakwater and marina featuring boat slips, lake related activities and lakefront dining options. The waterfront development plan and associated projects are fundamental to attract and retain new residents and to promote economic development. We will continue to work with our partners at federal, state and county levels of government to make this dramatic vision a reality.

The splash park at Indian Hills Playground which opened this summer features water cannons, downspouts, sprinklers; "dump" buckets and more. Replacing the aged city pool, residents relished the opportunity to escape the summer heat and enjoy quality family time here in the city.

Closer to city hall, the basketball courts in Memorial Park were a welcome addition to supplement programs offered by the Recreation Department. The courts by all accounts were a tremendous success, packed with basketball enthusiasts from day one.

And let’s not forget the dog park at Babbitt & St. Clair. A place where our four-legged friends can run and play and socialize with other canine residents of the city.

It is well known, that the City of Euclid’s Recreation Department oversees a host of programs that cater to the needs of all our residents, whether young or old, big or small, and fast or slow. We should all be proud that the hallmark of our youth programs is to build and nurture the child first by teaching respect, good sportsmanship and placing strong emphasis on educational performance. Only then do we help build the “athlete”.

Last year Senior Programs served over 50,000 meals in their dining room and to homebound clients. They provided rides to 6,200 residents to and from the center, medical appointments and shopping and hundreds of people enjoyed activities on a regular basis. A big thank you to our faithful volunteers who provided over 5,000 hours of dedicated service last year.

As our city, region and nation continues to recover from the foreclosure crisis, I am glad to say that Euclid’s housing market made modest improvements in 2013.

The average sales price of a home in Euclid increased by over 8.5% over the course of 2013.

The city’s housing initiatives continue to work towards the improvement of our home values and our neighborhoods. Three City owned homes were rehabbed in 2013 and another four are slated to be rehabbed in 2014 along with an additional new construction on east 195th street.

The Euclid Development Corporation continues to operate the first-time homebuyer down payment assistance program with 14 homebuyers assisted in 2013. This is in addition to EDCOR’s low-interest rehab loan program that is also positively impacting our neighborhoods.

For vacant houses that cannot be saved, demolition remains an important tool. We currently have 12 houses in the bidding process for demolition. Removing these eyesores and strengthening our housing stock is an important piece in our housing efforts. And as demolition funds become scarcer, we must be sure to use our remaining demolition resources strategically.

In order to build a more united community, we must seek various methods of communicating with our residents and businesses.

It has been almost two years since we first launched Euclid Connect. This messaging system has been a useful tool, allowing us to inform residents and businesses about events and urgent situations, by sending out phone calls, emails and text messages in just minutes. Those who do not receive our Euclid Connect messages may sign up on the website or call my office.

Our website contains both current and historical information, with an extensive calendar of events, links and extensive contact information.

Euclid Community Television broadcasts all council and committee meetings, as well as special community events and governmental programming.

We are taking full advantage of the social media venues offered by Facebook and Twitter. Please visit our Facebook page and give us a big like.

Twice a year, the Euclid Update newsletter is mailed out for those who still prefer to receive, read and keep information the old-fashion way.

A number of social events are sponsored by the City and various community organizations that bring people together.

The Euclid Holiday Festival is now a tradition in the city bringing thousands of people together at the Shore Cultural Centre to celebrate the outdoor lighting ceremony, visit with Santa, enjoy the free activities for kids and appreciate our area church choirs. I am proud to say that this event is growing to be bigger and better every year.

For the past two years the Euclid Wind Festival has also been held at the Shore Cultural Centre. This summer the festival will have a new location at Sims Park and will feature many new activities and entertainment.

Sims Park this year, plans are being made bring back the summer outdoor concerts series. The concerts will allow us to show off our new lakefront development and fishing pier and enjoy music, food and the company of our neighbors.

I am also pleased to announce a new group, “Rising Professionals”, hosted jointly by The Euclid Chamber of Commerce and The City of Euclid, directed at engaging our young professionals in an effort to cultivate the next generation of leaders and maximize involvement in the Euclid area.

As I have mentioned, there are slightly more than 600 days left in my administration. I do not intend to relax. We have accomplished so much working together, but there is more I would like to see done.

The state of our city is stronger than ever. But we can do better than that. We must make every day count.

We are Euclid. We are the city of tomorrow, of promise and most of all of opportunity for all. Stand with me and make every day count for the betterment of your city.

We have a lot to do. Let’s get back to work.
Thank you and god bless you.