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Friday, January 26, 2007

Quality of life remains focus for Bedford

Bedford Times-Register Reporter

Bedford -- At the helm of a city in its third century, Mayor Dan Pocek thinks Bedford is heading in the right direction.

"We started out as an agricultural village, then became a stagecoach stop in the 1840s," Pocek explained during last Wednesday's State of the City Address. "Later we became an area for manufacturing chairs and now we are an auto dealership Mecca.

"I hope to see us become a pharmaceutical giant with the growth of Ben Venue Laboratories," he continued. "Today they are 40 percent of our income tax revenue. They just broke ground on an expansion and plan to break ground on another expansion in the spring."

But one issue Pocek said he still thinks the city needs to address is the number of Bedford homeowners who have had their mortgages foreclosed.

"Cuyahoga County leads the nation in foreclosures," Pocek said. "We have to be aggressive on these issues."

City Manager Bob Reid said the city has already started to crack down on foreclosed homes that are in disrepair. He said the city had two foreclosed homes torn down in 2006 and made a total of $75,000 worth of exterior repairs to 10 foreclosed homes to bring them up to code. Tax liens were added to the homes, so the city would be reimbursed at the time of a sale, he said.

"We took care of issues such as siding and roofs," he said. "We wanted to improve the homes that were becoming cancers to their neighborhoods."

Reid said the city also cracked down on juveniles who were causing problems such as playing loud music or walking in the street. He said the police department made 332 juvenile arrests and citations in 2006 compared to 233 in 2005.

"The mayor and Council stressed that they wanted to take care of this quality of life issue," Reid said. "So we made a lot more arrests and gave a lot less warnings."

Quiet zones at the West Grace and West Glendale railroad crossings are another quality of life issue Reid says he hopes to see resolved in the future, but he isn't sure when they will become a reality. A quiet zone is a railroad crossing where trains do not sound their whistles.

Reid said the city has spent $14,000 to update safety features at the crossings, but the Federal Rail Administration told city officials that they might need to invest in some extra gates before the crossings can become quiet zones.

"The FRA is investigating now to decide if we need the gates and that is taking a while," Reid said. "We are trying to stay on top of it and told FRA officials that we want to meet with them again soon."

Reid said economic development is always a priority and he said he thought the city had a good year economically in 2006 and will again in 2007.

He said work on Tinkers Creek Commerce Park, a corporate/industrial park converted from a brownfield, was completed. Taylor Chair, the city's oldest company, moved into its new facility there.

This year Ben Venue will break ground on two expansions and construction should begin on a Wal-Mart Supercenter next month.

"It is important that we remain aggressive in going after businesses," Reid said. "We need businesses so we don't have to put a tax burden on our residents."


Phone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4110


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