SILVER LAKE — The village’s leader on Monday night told residents “I love being your mayor,” and said he will run for re-election to a fourth full term in November.
“I do strive for success, but my prayer every day is that you feel I have been of value to you,” said Mayor Bernie Hovey at the conclusion of his annual State of the Village address. “Success without value is not success at all. I hope that any value you may see in me is rewarded this coming November, when, with [my wife] Kathleen’s support, I will again ask for your vote to be the mayor of Silver Lake for another four years.”
The mayor’s 18-minute speech, delivered to an audience of about 60 in Village Hall, looked ahead to plans for 2019 and recapped the events and accomplishments of the previous year.
Hovey described the village’s fiscal status as “sound and stable,” and noted the general fund’s unencumbered balance of $1.7 million is “considerably more than accepted guidelines tells us we need.” He said the village’s other financial funds are either “adequate” or “healthy” — with the exception of the sewer fund.
“We have received ridiculously high and totally unforeseen sewer bills from Summit County, some of it due to inflow problems we continually address, and some of it due to the sewer problems in Akron,” said Hovey. “The sewer fund is an enterprise fund, and should be self-sustaining. At this point, it is not.”
Hovey gave his speech at the beginning of Village Council’s regular meeting. Later in the evening, council gave a first reading to a proposal that would increase sewer rates by about $6 to $7 per month for the average user. They will review the legislation again on March 18.
Two major infrastructure projects are on the horizon, said Hovey.
The mayor said engineering work will be done this year in conjunction with the planned installation of sewers, sidewalks and curbs on Englewood Drive. Hovey said he hopes to begin the project some time in 2020. One side of the road is in Silver Lake and the other side is in Stow.
“We hope to get support and cooperation from Stow when that project commences,” said Hovey. “My preliminary discussions with Stow Mayor John Pribonic regarding this project have been very positive.”
The village is partnering with Stow and Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study on a $1 million project to repave Graham Road from Route 91 to the railroad tracks.
“Because of our partnership with the two … groups, our cost will be around $200,000,” said Hovey. “Without this partnership, if we had to pave our portion of Graham Road on our own, the cost would probably have been in excess of $700,000.”
That project will begin this spring and will take several months to finish.
Hovey said the village has about $28,000 remaining in the centennial fund, some of which will be used to host more concerts at the gazebo in the summer. Some of the funds, Hovey said, may be used to put up a “modest digital sign in front of Village Hall, a sign which will enable us to trash the ugly, embarrassing, broken sign on wheels we now use.”
Hovey said he will continue to tell Cuyahoga Falls City School District leaders about the importance of maintaining a school building in the village, “be it the school we now have, or a new one built on that site.”
“Silver Lake Elementary School is our only physical connection to the Cuyahoga Falls Public School system, a connection that would be unwise to sever,” said Hovey.
Looking back at 2018
The mayor said 2018 was a “busy, interesting and exciting year” that included many events to celebrate the village’s 100th birthday. Centennial activities included a golf outing, music at the gazebo, an art show, a wine tasting event, an ice cream social, 5K runs, pancake breakfasts, a show at the country club and a picnic. A new patio with nearly 400 inscribed bricks with messages to, from or for residents was put in at the gazebo. Other centennial items included banners that were hung throughout the village, a painting and a quilt.
“So many people were involved in putting all this together,” said Hovey. “Many of you are in the room tonight. Thank you for your hard work and devotion to the village.”
Hovey said the sanitary sewers on Lee Road were replaced in 2018. Noting that the project was “another unfunded mandate from the EPA,” the mayor said the village “had to correct the illegal situation of over/under sewers, and we had to address the infiltration of rainwater into our sanitary sewers, as well as the flow of unwanted pollution into the waters of Silver Lake.”
He added the project will be finalized once the weather breaks.
Hovey said speeding is “one of the biggest concerns” that he consistently hears about from residents. Steps taken to address this issue include installing “Pedestrian Crossing” signs on Silver Lake Boulevard near the boathouse during peak summer hours, and improving or installing pedestrian crossings at some intersections. Hovey added he’s asked police officers to “be vigilant in writing speeding tickets,” particularly on Kent and Graham roads, Silver Lake Boulevard, Vincent Road, Englewood Drive and roads around the school.
“I have no interest in becoming known as a ticket city,” said Hovey. “I have great interest in making the streets of the village safe.”
He noted the most recent set of police reports showed that officers gave more than 2,400 traffic warnings and a little bit under 2,000 citations.
The mayor noted some of the other accomplishments of 2018 were: the passage of a new salary ordinance; the approval of a beekeeping ordinance; the institution of usage fees on some of the village’s recreational facilities; and a deer cull program for the second straight year.
Offers praise to employees, volunteers
Hovey said John Conley retired from the police chief’s position in January “after eight years of outstanding service.” Lt. James Norris was promoted to chief and Dave Childers was promoted to lieutenant.
The mayor also praised the work of department leaders, employees, council members, and committee members.
“These people give me the best they have every day,” said Hovey. “They are the reason we are successful in what we do in village government.”
Hovey lauded the many residents who volunteer with various service groups and organizations “to improve the lives of others.”
“We are truly a caring community,” said the mayor. “Your efforts are a godsend to those who need it.”
Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-4169, or firstname.lastname@example.org.