As we approach the end of 2021, it is appropriate to reflect on this year’s successes and opportunities for the future. We started this year anticipating the end of the pandemic but were disappointed it still lingered over the recent months. However, conversations with our local businesses, merchants, restaurants, and bars indicate that commerce was close to, if not better, than pre-pandemic levels. Still, severe labor shortages and supply chain issues have been causing incredible challenges. The City witnessed these during our summer road construction program with contractor delays on several projects. Fortunately, all roadwork started this past summer is complete. While this may remain an issue, we will adjust our seasonal programs to accommodate labor and supply issues.
We were delighted to see new businesses open in our Lakeshore District and our historic downtown. In addition, we are in discussions with other companies looking to invest or expand in our community. A significant success this year is the sale of the former Union High School to Liberty Development. Working in cooperation with Willoughby-Eastlake Schools, the City selected and negotiated a land sale with Liberty Development, a Cleveland area development firm. Their proposal is noteworthy because, beyond the renovation of the former high school, the project includes for-sale, fee simple townhomes. Their proposal is by far the lowest impact proposal for this property.
We are also happy to announce the completion of the “Bridge” at the intersection of Erie Street and Mentor Avenue. This artwork serves as a gateway to our Historic Downtown and is the first piece of public art installed in the City in recent years. It also signals our commitment to maintaining our downtown as a family-friendly, arts-centric location. The only area in Lake County actively using the arts to develop an experience economy.
We will continue our investment in the arts with our recently adopted Public Art Code, which created a commission to evaluate all projects within the City and a funding source for these projects.
Finally, we look forward to our engagement with our local business community next year. We are beginning to schedule meetings to ask how we can help support their growth and show our commitment to their success.
Despite the obstacles faced over the past months, it has been an excellent year for Willoughby. We have seen significant achievements, and we are developing new goals for next year. As a city, we are fortunate to have dedicated professionals at City Hall, including Finance, Service, Building, Parks and Rec, Police, and Fire. Equally important is a City Council committed to serving its constituents.
It is an excellent time of the year to give thanks, and from the administration, City Council, and my family, we wish you a wonderful holiday season.