I recently gave our directors a holiday gift that perfectly sums up last year. It is a simple, white porcelain cup with the header “2020” and below it the star rating system we often see on Amazon and other online purchasing sites. The year received a one-star rating with the comment, “Terrible Year. Would not recommend.” This perfectly sums up the year we left behind.
But as we enter 2021, we are optimistic and enthusiastic about what the coming year brings. We anticipate the success of our four summer events as the stress of the pandemic wanes, and people look to interact and engage. Many of the new events created last year were applauded by our residents, and we look forward to continuing and improving them in 2021. We have also noticed how our local business community adapted to the challenges of last year, and we will encourage and support many of these efforts in the future.
We are especially excited to restart some of our strategic efforts that were stalled by the pandemic. With the successful organization of the Lakefront Special Improvement District, a funding tool for lakefront erosion is identified, and we will begin a serious effort to re-imagine Osborne Park. Summer events planned for this park last year will resume, and we look forward to helping the Willoughby Lakefront Business Association’s Osborne Park Market and Flea enhance their vendor base and outreach. In our historic downtown, we will continue our branding efforts to promote DTW as an arts and entertainment district. The pandemic has heralded a new era in customer behavior that will include both online and in-person transactions built around the customer experience. Our merchants are already adapting to e-commerce, and our bars and restaurants offer the experience. In short, DTW is well poised for the next generation of consumers. We are also nearing our fundraising goal for “The Bridge”, the artwork anticipated for the plaza in front of the Citizens Bank building at Erie Street and Mentor Avenue. Our hope is this piece will be the gateway to our historic downtown. After months of planning, we are optimistic about receiving a significant grant from the State of Ohio to improve our riverfront. If we are successful, this would be an important first step in the Chagrin River Trail expected to connect Willoughby to Lake Erie. Economic development has seen a significant increase towards the end of last year with both residential and commercial projects coming forward, and we expect healthy activity through 2021 as we recognize Willoughby is a highly desirable place to live, work, and play.
Finally, and most importantly, we look forward to a new year of engaging with our residents. While virtual meetings and videos provided short-term communication tools during the pandemic, they are not a substitute for face-to-face get-togethers. We look forward to seeing many of you in person soon.
Have a healthy, safe, and Happy New Year!