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Friday, October 28, 2005

Ford under watch


No word yet on whether local plant will close

Staff Writer Oct. 27, 2005

WALTON HILLS —  They're holding their breath and crossing their fingers.

After Ford Motor Co. announced there will be significant layoffs and plant closings in January, the status of the Ford stamping plant in Walton Hills remains uncertain.

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don't know what kind of good news to put out there," said Robert Ebert, a professor of economics at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea.

"Some plants (in Ohio) will survive," he said. "Which ones, we're not sure. I'd place a bet on the one in Avon Lake. Some others will survive, too. We don't know which ones are high on the list of closers.

"It's a frightening situation," Ebert said. "The holiday season is always a tough time of the year. But I'm sure there will be a lot of careful pencil sharpening in the next few months at Ford."

Ford previously announced that its assembly plant in Lorain will close at the end of the year. Other Ford plants in Ohio include those in Brook Park, Lima and Sharonville in southern Ohio.

"Everybody (at Ford) is tight-lipped. That's frustrating," Walton Hills Councilman William Allen said. "But our plant supplies the one in Avon Lake, which is relatively stable. That's encouraging."

The Walton Hills plant used to account for about half the village's revenue. Now, it is around 15-25 percent. Ford divided the building in half about two years ago. One side is virtually vacant. Fewer than 600 employees work there today.

Bedford Ohio Blog Homepage-

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shopping plaza: a dead end

Once-active Meadowbrook Market Square reduced to rubble

Bedford Sun Banner Staff Writer

BEDFORD —  It resembles a bombed-out section of Baghdad, city Councilman Ron Lisy once said.

The western half of the Meadowbrook Market Square shopping plaza used to house a Handy Andy store, Ames Department Store, Levin Furniture and numerous others.

Today, they are gone, replaced by a 20-foot tall mound of rubble about 60 feet wide at the base, surrounded by acres of weeds.

It's an uninviting sight for southbound drivers entering Bedford on Northfield Road from Bedford Heights and Maple Heights. No stores appear to be moving in soon to that end of the plaza at the corner of Northfield and Rockside roads.

There has been a startling lack of activity there since the turn of the century. Why?

George Goudreau, head of Goudreau Management Group, which owns the property, failed to return calls to the Bedford Sun Banner.

City Manager Bob Reid said Goudreau is "a tough businessman who has a lot of common sense."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bedford to weigh grant priorities

by Emily Canning-Dean

Bedford Times-Register Reporter

Bedford and Bedford Heights residents who have ideas about how to improve their communities will have opportunities to be heard next month.

Both cities are hosting public meetings where residents and officials can discuss which projects the communities should present to Cuyahoga County when applying for thousands of dollars in Community Development Block Grants. There will be a public meeting Oct. 4 at noon at the Jimmy Dimora Community Center, 5615 Perkins Ave., for Bedford Heights residents. Dates and times for Bedford meetings have not been scheduled yet. The deadline for the grant applications is Nov. 18 at noon.

According to Michelle Oakar, public information officer for the county department of development, the county receives federal funding each year that is to be distributed to communities for improvement projects.

Oakar said communities with “target improvement areas” or areas with residents at low to moderate income levels can apply for the grant, and each community can receive up to $150,000.

Oakar said eligible improvement projects must “serve low to moderate income people,” “prevent or eliminate slum and blight” or “meet other urgent community needs.” She said typical eligible projects include streetscape improvements, street or sidewalk improvements and American Disability Association improvements to public sites.

Bedford Director of Economic Development Rebecca Corrigan said her city will host several meetings throughout October where they will take ideas from residents.

“Right now we are thinking about streetscape improvements on Northfield Road between Union Street and Forbes Road,” she said.

Corrigan said the project would include street benches, landscaping and sidewalk improvements with an estimated cost of $200,000. She said making this business district on Northfield more aesthetically pleasing would be beneficial because a lot of motorists travel through the area.

Corrigan said applicants whose projects include streetscape improvements are often successful in obtaining CDBG funding. She said both phases of the Broadway Avenue Streetscape were partially funded by CDBG money.

But Corrigan said she still wants feedback from residents.

“Maybe residents will have an idea that we like better than the Northfield Road project,” she said.

Bedford Heights Director of Economic Development Marty Divito said the city has already gotten some ideas.

“We’ve already had one suggestion for an elevator in City Hall and another for power doors at the community center,” she said, adding that both of these projects would make each building more ADA compatible.


Phone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4110

Quartet on November ballot seeking 3 School Board seats

by Emily Canning-Dean

Bedford Times Register Reporter

After Terry Sanders withdrew last week from the race for the Bedford Board of Education (See story, Page 4), four candidates are left to compete for three seats on the School Board. Those running are incumbent Debora Kozak, who was appointed to the Board when Kay Santangelo resigned, Andrew Mizsak, Daisy Roane and Tim Tench.

A main focus for all candidates will be school funding.

“If I am elected, I want to talk to many state officials and put pressure on them to find better ways to fund public schools,” Tench said.

Mizsak said he agrees that changes need to be made.

“I would be in favor of an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would permit casino gambling, or at least video slots in order to fund our schools,” Mizsak said. “I would keep the option open for a 1 percent increase in the state sales tax ... that would specifically earmark that additional percentage for the funding of K through 12 education.”

Roane said she thinks there are alternative ways the district can bring in revenue.

“I think we need to look at renting out some of our facilities for events, such as our auditoriums. I believe in grants, and I want to work closely with the district’s grant writer,” she said.

Kozak said she believes it also is important to monitor what is going on within the district.

“I think we need to be accountable for all of the money that we spend,” she said. “There has often been talk of ‘pay to play’ for athletics, but I would hate to see that happen. I think we as the district need to come together to come up with other solutions.”

Kozak said Board members also should keep an eye on capital improvements, although she said she believes Business Manager Jerry Zgrabik is doing a good job keeping up buildings in the district.

“I think we need to look at what is best for our kids and we need to focus on safety,” she said.

Roane said she toured the buildings in the district two years ago and was impressed with their condition.

“If elected, I would like to tour the buildings again to make sure that none of them have deteriorated, and make assessments at that time,” she said.

Tench said he, too, would like to tour the buildings in the district if he were elected.

“I would also like to talk to the custodians and principals in the buildings, the people who are there every day and receive feedback from them about what needs to be done,” he said.

Mizsak said he thinks the buildings and grounds in the district are in good condition. If budget permits, Mizsak said he would like to make improvements to save on energy costs.

“I would like to replace windows in school facilities with those that are more insulated to reduce heating costs,” he said. “I also would like to see automatic flush toilets in all buildings, as well as automatic sinks and faucets in restrooms. These are not only cost-saving ideas, but they are also environmentally friendly.”

All of the Board members offered ideas on how the school district can improve state report card scores.

“I think we need to offer as much tutoring as possible, and I think we need to work with students who come into the district,” Kozak said. “I think students who move into the district should take a placement test, so we can best figure out where they need help.”

Tench said he would like the district to offer classes to parents so they can help their children with school.

“What happens is you have children who don’t know how to learn because they grow up in an environment not knowing how to learn,” he said. “We can help the students by helping their parents.”

Roane said she would like to have a committee formed to determine why some students in the district are having trouble learning.

“I think we need to constantly monitor students and individually diagnose areas where they need help,” she said.

Mizsak said he thinks there are a few steps the district can take to improve state test scores.

“Spend a part of every school day working on problem solving and analytical skills with students,” he said. “Use students in the upper grades to mentor and tutor students. Also, inform parents and guardians better what is on the test and train them in how to prepare their child for the tests.”

Election day is Nov. 8.


Phone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4110

Homes to sit on Taylor Chair site


Bedford Sun-Banner
Staff Writer

Sept. 29, 2005

BEDFORD - A 53-unit housing project with a scenic view of the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks will become a reality.

The project will be on Taylor and Willis streets at the current site of the Taylor Chair Co., which will relocate to Egbert Road in Bedford.

"The setting is the best thing about the entire project," said Rob Namy, director of development for the Cleveland-based Rysar Co.

"It is nestled in a corner of the Metroparks with paths that reach out to the waterfalls and to Viaduct Park," he said. "It will be close to downtown Bedford and all the shops."

Namy and architect Richard Siegfried of R.S.A. Architects in Chagrin Falls made a presentation to Bedford City Council.

The plan must be OK'd by the city's planning commission and council, but city leaders do not foresee any hurdles.

He said as many silver maple, red oak and pine trees on the east side of the property as possible will not be touched.

Rysar paid about $900,000 for the property in July.

Namy said homes likely will start at about $190,000. He hopes construction will begin in late 2006 with the first homes finished in late spring of 2007. Each one will be about 1,500-2,000 square feet.



Is there a TOPS in Bedford's future?

This article was in Oct. 2nd's Plain Dealer. I suggest picking up a copy.
This article is very long so the conclusion will be in the comments section.
As a note we (The City of Bedford) have been in contact with TOPS corporate folks, who state they currently have no plans to close the Bedford Tops.  No not the ringing endorsement we would hope for, but better than the alternative.  We will stay in touch, and work with them to keep TOPS open in Bedford.
-Ron Lisy

A question of commitment
Tops says it wants to expand here, but it's closing stores

By Janet H. Cho
Plain Dealer Reporter

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Five years ago, Tops Markets LLC promised to bring a new, state-of-the-art supermarket to Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood – a move city leaders hailed as critical to revitalizing a once-strong business district.

The proposed 58,000-square-foot building at East 185th Street and Neff Road – nearly triple the size of the 41-year-old store there now – was to have been a model for Tops’ future groceries and the envy of its competitors. It was to have an in-store bakery, a full-service meat department, a pharmacy, more organic produce and a Chinese food carryout. And it was to have sold gasoline.

Today, after spending more than $6 million to buy and prepare the land for construction, Tops has changed its mind.

In an Aug. 26 letter to Mayor Jane Campbell’s chief of staff, Chris Ronayne, Tops’ parent company, Giant Food Stores LLC, confirmed the project was dead. After studying the project “from every possible angle, . . . we have been unable to develop a scenario that meets our financial objectives,” wrote Robert Anderson, Giant’s executive vice president of real estate and construction.

A gravel foundation that city officials hoped would support a modern grocery store now is surrounded by a chain-link fence and broken sidewalks.

Peering through the fence behind the current store’s parking lot, City Councilman Michael Polensek rued how hard he worked to get Tops a sweetheart economic incentive package of more than $2.8 million in grants, low-interest loans and tax abatements. “They baldfaced lied to us,” he said.

Polensek isn’t the only one questioning Tops’ commitment to Greater Cleveland. After years of saying it wanted to expand its market share in Northeast Ohio, the region’s No. 2 grocer has closed nine stores in the last year, cut about 850 jobs, reduced store hours and outsourced its popular in-store bakery and butcher departments.

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops, which now operates 47 stores in Northeast Ohio, has left a wake of empty storefronts, disappointed shoppers and disenchanted community leaders.