Munroe Falls -- Promoting further economic and community development and improving some city utilities all top Munroe Falls' priorities for 2013.
Mayor Frank Larson said the city's goals for 2013 follow 2012's year of economic prosperity.
"We had the best percentage of commercial property rented last year," said Larson. "Vacancies are hard to come by, and that's because of the services that are supplied to the residents and the commercial establishments."
Anne DiCola, community and economic development director, said the city's commercial occupancy rate is currently at 90 percent -- a value Larson believes may be the highest since he took office in 2004.
"We weathered the burst of the [housing] bubble quite well, and commercial business has been very good," Larson added. "We look forward to 2013 and seeing even more of that."
A Prosperous 2012
Larson said some of the city's top accomplishments this past year centered on economic development as the city drew closer to finding tenants for all its commercial properties.
Striving for 100 percent occupancy is "always a goal," he said.
He noted how one of the city's two main commercial plazas, the Silver Valley Shopping Center, has only one empty space. The small plaza off South Main Street featuring Subway and Gray Mart is doing equally well.
Larson noted the opening of new businesses like Serendipity on Main, Falls Finds, Pizor Clock Repair and Computer ER last year add to the city's economic viability.
"We've got a few other prospects that we're hopeful will come to fruition in 2013," said Larson.
He also lauded the city's appointment of Police Chief Richard Myers, who replaced Chief Scott Bellinger last year, as a move residents should be proud of.
"That was a real boon to get that new chief in there after Bellinger retired," Larson said.
Plans for 2013
While economic development has been on the upswing, Larson noted the city still has a few vacant properties to fill, including the high-profile former Triple Crown Restaurant Lounge on N. Main Street.
The former Bank One building at 9 S. Main St. that has housed the Munroe Falls Police Academy for the last several years is an example of a property the city has high hopes for.
Larson said a sale is nearly finalized with real estate developer Alan Ederer of Fairlawn-based Edwood Development Co. -- the same person who owns the Triple Crown property.
Recent police academy classes have been conducted in the fire department training room in the upstairs portion of the City Building at 43 Munroe Falls Ave.
Larson said he has high hopes for the 9 S. Main St. property. He said the building may be torn down to create some new retail and office spaces, but that it's too soon to confirm any possible plans yet.
In community development, Larson said the city is planning the installation of more than 70 street lights in Ward 3's northeastern region of the city -- something residents have been pushing for.
That project, Larson said, is estimated around $50,000 and may begin as early as this spring.
Another initiative is to have new radio-read water meters installed on homes throughout the city.
"That's something that is going to be beneficial not only to the residents in several ways, but for the city, too," he said. "We're at a point where we have to replace the meters anyway, and after they get old, they stop recording properly."
Installing the new meters could take more than a year, he noted, but that he'd like to get that project going by summer. The city is currently evaluating potential suppliers.
The modernized meters stand to benefit the city because usage can be read remotely, which stands to promote efficiency in the billing department.
Residents will benefit because the newer technology can identify and inform the city electronically whenever a potentially costly leak is sprung.
"We can monitor those on a daily basis, and it can flag us if there's a problem," said Larson.
Larson said the city is planning some water-line replacements that could coincide with future road improvements. Work specifically on Castle and Game drives and Gay Road is on the docket for this year, he said.
The city is also looking to acquire some funding for landscaping and parking lot projects at the Lehner Community Center on South River Road in addition to considering the establishment of a community garden.
DiCola said the garden could potentially go at the vacant soccer field behind Fire Station No. 2 or at the city's service garage.
"Currently, we are seeking interest from residents," she said, "and the response has been small."
Phone: 330-541-9400, ext. 4179