So a contractor, a steelmaker and an architect walk into a bar…
Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t a joke and we didn’t walk into a bar, we walked onto Eastlake City Hall. Over the past months Mayors Rich Regovich from Willowick, Dennis Morley from Eastlake and I have been working together to investigate new ways to pool resources and develop strategies to help our communities.
Collaboration seems to be the new catchphrase in business, education and government and when it does occur the efforts of a group generate larger successes than any of its members can individually achieve. However, for people or organizations to pool resources for shared goals there must be a sense of common purpose and the ability to cooperate as equals.
Willoughby, Willowick and Eastlake are working on several initiatives that will help our cities in several ways. We are currently involved is securing funding for a study of the Vine Street corridor from Lakeshore Boulevard in Willowick, through Eastlake and to Erie Street in Downtown Willoughby. Our hope is this study will help re-imagine a heavily trafficked corridor into a more pleasant experience with a broader mix of uses. Eastlake has already seen interest in light manufacturing and national food chains are aggressively looking at opportunities in the area. A logical first-step in this process is to evaluate the zoning codes of all three cities in an effort to make them consistent.
Another collaborative initiative will be to investigate opportunities for our lakefront from Willowick to Willoughby. Willowick has already secured a grant for a study and Mayor Regovich is assisting Mayor Morley and me in securing additional study funds for our cities. This is extremely important for all three communities as one of our most important assets is our common lakefront.
Finally, we have started discussions with Mayor Barbish of Wickliffe to identify common economic development strategies. The challenges of growth in our four cities are similar, but different from other communities in Lake County. We share similar aging housing stock, underutilized industrial sites and commercial properties needing improvement. We believe that a thoughtful and consistent plan of action can be employed to help each city.
All of the efforts mentioned will require immense effort and patience. Federal, State and local funding for studies is extremely competitive and city revenues are stable or declining. It will require the combined resources of all western Lake County communities to make a significant impact.
So a contractor, a steelmaker and an architect walk into city hall…
Stay tuned for the conclusion.