Nordonia Hills — Area officials speaking about the state of their communities at the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon Sept. 12 said things are moving forward in their towns in a variety of areas.
"It’s going to get better," said Northfield Village Mayor Jesse Nehez. "Progress, progress, progress."
Macedonia Mayor Nick Molnar touted the city’s "collaboration" with surrounding communities on public safety, including contracts to provide fire and EMS service to Northfield Center and Sagamore Hills.
"It’s a great thing, we want to help our neighbors, we want to do this thing together, and I think it’s going to grow and over time, the relationship is going to improve," said Molnar.
"It’s a family thing for me," Molnar added. "Being from the Nordonia area, graduating from Nordonia High School, my sister lives in Sagamore, I have friends in Northfield, we are all one, we’re still Nordonia so it means something to me to have that collaborative effort."
In addition, the city just implemented a "next generation 911 system" to allow callers to send texts, images, video and data to the dispatch center.
"That’s huge when you consider we also service dispatching for some of our neighboring communities," said Molnar.
Nine roads in the city were paved this year, said Molnar, a new aerial ladder truck was purchased; the police department is purchasing new in-car cameras, and the city is working to bring businesses to town.
"We’re booming with business," said Molnar.
Northfield Center Township Administrator Steve Wright said that since he was hired late last year, work has been done to expand the joint economic development district it has with Macedonia at the Crossings at Golden Link shopping center to increase tax revenues; improve the township’s website; improving township operations; enhancing fiscal management through improvements in budgeting and forecasting processes and continuing to seek "relevant grant opportunities;" and improvements to township parks; and working with a safety services committee to evaluate police and fire contracts with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Macedonia respectively.
"I actually come from a large government organization background," said Wright. "Before Northfield Center Township, the smallest organization I have worked for had 4,800 staff and a resident population of 220,000. So I definitely have a best practice lens when I come to the table."
He said that one of the first things he did was develop a "strategic plan process" with the township trustees.
"I don’t care how big of an organization you are, if you don’t have a sense of where you’re trying to get, you’re likely not going to get there and if you do, it’s just going to be haphazard and luck."
Also being planned, said Wright, are public forums to discuss a 0.49-mill, 30-year levy to purchase a former FirstMerit Bank building on Olde Eight Road to replace the 109-year-old Town Hall on Brandywine Road.
Nehez said that in terms of economic development, the village is pretty much "built out," but it is hoped that at some point, a hotel will be constructed at the racino and Northfield Park.
"It’s potentially something we have down the road," he said.
Nehez said the village has made progress on the beautification of the Route 8 corridor, including a new commercial sign ordinance. Summit Plaza is ordering new signs and other improvements are planned, including repaving parking lots at the shopping center and at the Ledge Road plaza.
The village also created an overlay district to encourage businesses along Northfield Road by allowing them to expand onto residential properties behind them, if the homeowners are willing to sell, for additional parking and buffering between businesses and residential areas.
"We’re trying to improve many things on Route 8. It takes time," said Nehez.
In other areas, a commercial building just to the north of the Village Hall was torn down and replaced with a "beautiful landscaped area;" traffic signals were replaced; $1.2 million in improvements to Houghton Road have been largely completed; there are plans to repair sidewalks and curbs along Route 8; plans are being made for a rebuild of Coventry Drive for an estimated $1 million; and the village’s recreation board is planning a program for next year called "Nordonia Heroes" that will allow residents to honor relatives who served in the military with banners to hang along Route 8.
"Things have been going well in Northfield," said Nehez. "I can’t complain and I don’t think anybody else can complain. We’re doing everything we can with the money that we have."
Sagamore Hills Police Chief David Hayes, who also serves as the township’s part-time administrator, said the township is anticipating an increase in the number of homes.
"We’re looking at two major developments coming to Sagamore Hills in 2020," said Hayes, adding this includes 38 homes on 52 acres off Houghton Road and the first of three phases of a 99-home development on 112 acres off Dunham Road.
In addition, road work is planned for 2020, including a large section of Houghton Road, and the township is hoping to complete the doubling of its salt storage capacity by the end of October.
"We’ve been caught short a couple of times, as other communities have, with a lack of salt so by purchasing larger salt sheds, we’ll hopefully get through the winter with enough salt."
As for the police department, Hayes said that in 2018, the township was rated second safest community in Ohio among communities with at least 10,000 residents, based on township crime statistics compiled by the FBI, and 56th safest in the nation.
"We sort of attribute our safest community status to our community policing we have," he said.
This includes a program in which officers alert residents to things they have seen while on patrol with cards placed in mailboxes, such as a garage door left open overnight.
"We distribute as many as nine [thousand] to 10,000 of those cards every year and we hit roads throughout the township," said Hayes.
About three years ago, the township implemented a program in which older residents can request phone calls from an employee checking on their welfare.
"If they need anything, she routes them to the county agency or the state agency that can help them," said Hayes, adding he believes there are about a dozen residents signed up.
Hayes said the department has two officers certified in inspecting child safety seats and he concluded by saying that the township is pleased with the job the Macedonia Fire department has done.
"We continue to enjoy quality service by the staff of the Macedonia Fire Department," said Hayes. "The staff and equipment provides our residents with superior fire and EMS and this is celebrating our third year in joining with them."
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.