December is a great time to pause and reflect on the past year. Over the last several months, we have witnessed significant progress on many initiatives, including our two transformational projects: the Osborne Park Shoreline Restoration and the Chagrin River Trail.
We are currently in the design and permitting stages of the Osborne Park project for Phase I, which will include the restoration of the slope and native habitat as well as the installation of erosion control measures at the shoreline. This work is estimated to cost about $3 million, and we have nearly $2 million set aside from several grants, the sale of the N. Beachview properties, and a large portion of the city’s ARPA funding. We are actively applying for other grants to help fund this work.
The City of Willoughby recently took possession of 105 acres of property along the Chagrin River between Daniels Park and Todd Field, thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This was one of a few grants awarded nationwide for property acquisition to preserve and protect valuable environmental areas. We also received a $75,000 grant to assist in the design and engineering of this area. Our project caught the attention of the Under Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Richard Spinrad, who personally toured the site and was highly complimentary of the project and Willoughby’s dedication to preserving our natural assets.
With the success of our Safety Levy, we are in the design and engineering phase of renovating the former Meister Media Building into our new police facility. We expect design and engineering completion and construction to start later next year. The revenues from the safety levy are also funding our recently-ordered ladder truck that replaces an aging and outdated vehicle for our fire department.
We also welcomed new businesses in 2023, including a new building for Signature Health that will consolidate several locations into a central facility. This investment will increase Signature’s employment to 400 jobs in our city and provide valuable health services to Lake County.
While we continue to support our Historic Downtown, we are increasing our focus on our Lakeshore District, where Councilwoman Kristie Severs has organized focus groups to help drive additional development through a branding and communications initiative. Our Economic Development team is working with Kristie on this and also expanded community events for this area.
Finally, on behalf of the administration, City of Willoughby staff, City Council, and my family, I’d like to wish everyone “Happy Holidays.”