This past month I received some inquiries from folks wondering how they can get a stop sign on their street or a traffic signal at certain intersections. Specifically, they asked if a petition would be needed. I know I’ve addressed this topic before, but I thought it might be time to touch on it once again.
The simple answer is that cities don’t control these decisions. The State of Ohio regulates traffic signs and signals, based on guidelines provided by the Federal Government.
The Ohio Revised Code (ORC), Section 4511.09, requires the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to adopt a manual for a uniform system of traffic control devices that conforms to the system approved by the Federal Highway Administration. To this end, ODOT publishes the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (Manual). This manual establishes standards for the design and use of traffic control devices that conform to the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices published by the Federal Highway Administration. Section 4511.11 of the ORC requires that all local authorities in their respective jurisdictions place and maintain traffic control devices in conformance with the Manual.
Traffic lights and stop signs may be installed only if the intersection meets certain “warrants” outlined in the Manual. These warrants can include high traffic counts, sight-line issues, proximity to another signaled intersection, frequency of accidents, etc. It is important to note that “slowing down traffic” is not included on the list of warrants. In other words, cities are prohibited from erecting signals or stop signs simply to slow down traffic.
The reason the Federal and State governments take such an active role in this process is to try and establish some uniformity as we drive from community to community. There are also very valid safety reasons.
While most people feel that additional lights or stop signs will prevent accidents, the reverse is usually the case. Most accidents happen where signals and stop signs are placed. The reason is that drivers and pedestrians come to trust the traffic signals, or more precisely, that others will obey the signals. Rather than warily looking right and left, we proceed through the intersection when it is our turn, only to be struck by someone who was not paying attention. It is a sad fact that there have been two fatal pedestrian accidents during my term as Mayor. Both accidents were at signaled intersections and both pedestrians were walking with the green light within the crosswalk. We all need to remember to maintain our “wariness” when proceeding through an intersection.
I hope this helps you to understand the constraints cities are under in erecting new signals and stop signs. Rest assured that we listen to your concerns, however, and do our best to make each intersection as safe as we can.
Have a great month.
The summer season is finally upon us and things are heating up, both temperature and activity-wise.
I hope many of you can enjoy the 4th of July fireworks at South High. They go off about 9:45 pm (yes, on the 4th).
Our Thursday Summer Concerts will begin with the Diamond Project. This popular Neil Diamond tribute band will be kicking off the season on July 2nd at 7:00 pm. The concerts will continue each Thursday through August 27th when Alex Bevan will wrap up the season. We’ve got a great lineup this year. You can check out the complete schedule elsewhere in this paper.
The Sounds of Willoughby featuring myself and several Willoughby groups and musicians will not be on the schedule this year. We’ve relinquished our spot so a new group can perform. I will be playing the guitar, however, as part of the Artsfest on July 18th. Ten musical acts will perform during the day at several places downtown. I hope to see many of you there. The Artsfest, sponsored by the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce, is always a much anticipated event in our downtown. Immaculate Conception’s Oktoberfest is that same weekend, making it one of the biggest weekends of the year in Willoughby.
The Lakefront Outdoor Market kicked off again on June 21st and will continue through September 27th. This popular Sunday morning market is held at Osborne Park and is sponsored by the Lakefront Business Association. Our regular Saturday Market at City Hall, sponsored by the Heart of Willoughby, is in full swing and will continue through October.
I hope to see many of you at these great summer events here in Willoughby. Have a great month.
One of Willoughby’s most recognizable features is the large flagpole in Pointe Park. The 110 foot pole has been in place for almost 114 years.
In the early months of 1901 a group of Willoughby citizens approached the village council with a proposal. They wanted to erect a large flagpole and dedicate it on July 4, 1901. The citizens committed to raising the funds ($500) to accomplish this. For the flagpole to be ready by July 4th, however, they needed the village to “front” the money. The village agreed and paid the five hundred dollars. Over the next year the citizens committee raised….twenty five dollars; the largest donation being five dollars.
I thought I’d share this story this month, because you’ll soon see this flagpole disappear, hopefully only for a short period of time. After 114 years its structural integrity has become a concern. In order to repair and refurbish the pole it must come down. Once the pole is dismantled, sand blasted and inspected in detail we will have a better handle on the cost to refurbish it and replace it in the park. As you can probably guess, the cost has increased somewhat from the original $500 price tag. In fact, one Northeast Ohio city recently completed a similar project, with the cost being over $100,000.
We’re working with the welding class from the Willoughby-Eastlake Career Academy to see if they can play a part in this project. Once the cost is known we’ll share this with city council and, hopefully, begin the process to repair and restore it.
I hope you’re having a great start to the summer and that I see many of you at our summer events. Have a great month.
Recently I was asked to speak at a management seminar to share my thoughts on management and leadership. I told the group that a good manager runs a tight ship. A leader makes sure the ship is heading somewhere and in the right direction. Good organizations need to be focused on both – running efficiently and heading in the right direction. They accomplish this with two sets of plans; an operational plan dealing with day-to-day duties and focused on this year, and a strategic plan, focusing on what the organization wants to look like in five years.
Willoughby has both operational and strategic plans in place. I thought I’d share some information from our operational plans this month and then address our strategic vision in next month’s column.
Operationally, Willoughby had a good year in 2014. Our General Fund income was about $25.8 million while our expenses totaled just over $25 million. This allowed us to add to our fund balance and finish with about $6.2 million in the General Fund. This amounts to 25% of our expenses, which is a very healthy position to be in. It is one of the reasons why Moody’s Financial Services has retained our Aa1 credit rating; the second highest rating they give.
This year we expect to finish with a slightly lower fund balance, depending on what we choose to do with projects and capital expenditures, and how well our income tax base is maintained. All in all, however, we expect to have a solid year.
Unfortunately, that cannot be said for many of our neighbors here in Ohio. Recent cutbacks in state shared taxes and the elimination of estate taxes and personal property taxes have crippled many communities. Cities like Willoughby, with a strong manufacturing base, as well as a solid base in healthcare and office and retail businesses, have weathered this storm better than most. We should give some credit to city leaders from 40 to 50 years ago for having the foresight to establish our industrial park areas and welcoming industry to the city. Willoughby has long had a reputation as a business-friendly city.
Operationally, our biggest concerns this year are in the area of roads and storm sewers. The last two winters were especially harsh, particularly for our roads. Our road program this year will be a combination of repair and replacement of asphalt and concrete. In other words, some streets will see a complete resurfacing while others will see spot repair. The goal is to get the best “bang for our buck” utilizing the funds provided by our road levy.
The City Council will be reviewing recommendations from the City Engineer on storm water upgrades and putting together a long term plan to address these needs. This will be a challenge as a recent study identified $18 million in high priority projects and a total of $40 million in needed improvements. The city has about $700,000 per year to spend on these improvements, so it will be necessary to prioritize the projects with the greatest need.
I’ll look forward sharing some of our strategic plans with you in the next column. Have a great month and a great spring.
During 2014, the Willoughby Police Department has not had any major changes in personnel other than the early and unexpected retirement of our Administrative Assistant.
In battling the opiate epidemic, Willoughby Police Department along with all other Lake County agencies were assisted by The Lake County Sheriff’s Office “Opiate Task Force.” The Task Force actively participates in the investigations of all types of crime where opiate abuse is directly or indirectly related. To date it has made a significant impact.
One of the most difficult crimes to investigate and/or prosecute are frauds through telecommunication. Many people receive emails, phone calls, even text messages that are very misleading. At times they may seem legitimate by being disguised as coming from the Internal Revenue Service, creditors, banks, or even appear to be relatives. We take reports yearly from victims who have lost money from this sort of crime. Most of the perpetrators are from foreign countries or conduct their scam in a way that is untraceable. The best advice is to ALWAYS take the time to confirm everything before sending money anywhere. When in doubt, call the police department and speak with an officer.
In closing, I would like to say that as I approach my three year mark as Chief, much has happened and there is still much to be done. The entire staff works together with the goal of operating in such a manner as to accomplish the mission of the department and better serve the community. As a native of Willoughby, I have a personal interest in the success of the Department and its effectiveness in carrying out our mission. To assist me with that, I want to encourage and increase two-way communication between the Willoughby Police Department, its personnel, and both the business and residential community.
Willoughby Police Department has an Awards Committee comprised of several employees within the Department. The committee reviews nominations and supporting documentation and may issue an award or refer the nominations to the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association.
For 2014, Detective Sergeant Matt Tartaglia was chosen as the Officer of the Year. He received nomination letters noting his exemplary work ethic, diligence, and compassion. Special Officer Chuck Popik was awarded the 2014 Special Officer of the Year award. In addition, the Special Officer of the Year Award was renamed the Jason Gresko Memorial Award in his honor. In 2009, a Civilian Employee of the Year was established. Communications Clerk Kim Thompson received this award for 2014. She was nominated for her dedication and exemplary work ethic.
Patrolman Shane Rahz and Sgt. Dan Pitts, along with Special Officer Gary Betzler are the Department’s motorcycle officers. Officers ride city-owned, specially equipped Harley Davidson Police Edition Road Kings. They are primarily used for handling traffic complaints in residential neighborhoods, although they are still assigned a zone and handle routine calls.
Patrolman Burrington and K-9 Rebel, and recent additions to the unit, Patrolman Matt Neath and K-9 Loki, continue to be active in the community, assisting with various arrests and playing important roles with tracking and suspect apprehensions. Additionally, they continue to make public appearances at city functions and festivals.
As I write this column on March 13 the snow is finally melting and it’s hit 50 degrees for the first time this year. As you’re reading this I hope Spring truly has arrived. Here are a few items for you to consider as we move into Spring and Summer.
Yard waste pickup will start on April first and continue through November. Please put your yard waste in open paper bags or open containers.
The Spring and Summer can bring heavy rains which cause some basement flooding in the city. If you’ve experienced this in the past I’d like to remind you of the city’s Private Property Sanitary Sewer Backup Reduction Grant Program. Owners of single family and two family dwellings may be eligible to receive a financial grant in the amount of seventy-five percent (75%) of the improvement with a maximum grant of One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500) to aid in the reduction of risk of a sanitary sewer backup in single family and two family dwellings. Contact the Service Department at (440) 953-4111 for information.
If you are interested in reserving a pavilion in one of our parks now is a great time to do so. We have pavilions available at Osborne Park (seats 70), Gilson Park (seats 70), the Euclid Avenue Pool (seats 84) and three pavilions at Daniels Park (seats 56, 63 and 98). All of the park pavilions have electricity, water, grills and seasonal restrooms available nearby. Willoughby residents ONLY can call the Parks & Recreation Department at 440-953-4200 to reserve a pavilion. There is a $35 non-refundable fee for a weekend rental and $15 fee for a weekday rental. Reservations are being accepted now.
Our Parks and Recreation Department is registering for many spring and summer programs at this time of year. Keep in mind that you can do so online. Go to willoughbyohio.com, click on the Residents tab and then click Parks and Recreation for information and instructions.
We still have available space for our Hometown Hero banners that I wrote about last month. If you want to honor a family member or friend who is (or was) a veteran of the Armed Forces please contact the Parks and Recreation Department.
We’re looking forward to a great summer here in Willoughby. Have a great month.