November 2020

Mayor’s Article as feature in The Willoughby Times:

This holiday season will be unlike any we have experienced. The lingering effects of the pandemic will change our shopping, gift-giving and celebration customs as we attempt to create some normalcy out of an extremely abnormal situation. As the season approaches, we encourage our residents to “shop local” and remember our bars and restaurants remain open under the guidance of the Lake County General Health District.

City government will also continue to function differently for the next few months. City Hall is open with specific guidelines in place, and Council, Boards and Commissions will meet virtually. We encourage our residents to check our website for meeting dates, times and instructions on how to access them. We will continue to seek guidance from the Governor’s office, the State Attorney General and the Lake County General Health District on when in-person meetings can begin and with what restrictions. While COVID-19 has challenged our ability to communicate with our residents, the administration and City Council remain committed to maintaining an open and collaborative dialogue with our residents. We are considering a new engagement platform similar to the recent community meeting held to discuss development projects within the city. We are also anxious to begin our “Mayor’s Night Out” sessions which are envisioned as a smaller, ward-specific venue to discuss neighborhood issues.

The pandemic has allowed us to improve our technology and gain a better understanding of how better use of technology can enhance internal functions and customer service. Beyond hardware and security improvements, we are expanding the use of tracking software to log resident service requests that will also provide a history of all responses. Chief Building Official Darryl Keller and Service Department Director Rich Palmisano are leading this effort. They are also working with our Communications Coordinator, Shana Boyd, in developing fillable and online forms to make applications for meetings and permits easy to locate and complete. Finally, we are developing a new format for project staff reports that will be distributed to directors, boards, and commissions to help better inform all on specific issues with proposed projects. When public meetings resume, we will have new technology in City Council Chambers that improves audio and presentation capabilities as well as the ability to record our meetings.

We are all making the best out of a challenging time as we know our residents will make the necessary adjustments to ensure a wonderful and safe holiday season.