Mayor Gorden

Mayor's Corner

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Jan 09

IT’S BEEN A HUGE PRIVILEGE TO SERVE YOU, BEACHWOOD. I THANK YOU AND WISH YOU ALL THE BEST.

Posted on January 9, 2018 at 3:43 PM by Merle S. Gorden

In just a few short days, I will leave the Beachwood Mayor’s Office after 23 years. I am honored to have served our residents during that time, and humbled to have worked with so many committed city employees, council members, business leaders and other appointed and elected officials.  

As one might imagine, this is a bittersweet transition for me. This office has become my second home, and the staff my second family. If you really know me, you know I lived to serve the Beachwood community. 

My ultimate goal as Mayor was to keep Beachwood strong for years and decades to come. I think we have done that, and for that I am proud. It is gratifying and comforting to be able to step away just after our community was named the #1 suburb in Cuyahoga County by Cleveland Magazine.  This Administration’s accomplishments are a tribute to the hard work, dedication and expertise of every city employee and official.  I could not have done my job without them.

I believe I have left the city in better condition than it was when I took office.  I have had some time to reflect on all we’ve accomplished and thought I would share a short list.

 

Economic Development:  The City has focused resources on attracting, retaining and growing its business sector to further preserve and enhance the community.  We have had unparalleled economic development for a city our size.  Since 2007, the City of Beachwood has seen over $900 Million in new capital investment – an amazing statistic for a city of 12,000 residents.  The presence of businesses in Beachwood helps to pay for the City’s excellent municipal services.  Here are some noteworthy achievements that have occurred:

  • Significant enhancement of  the Chagrin Highlands area with the development of University Hospital’s Ahuja Medical Center and Eaton Corporation’s new world headquarters.
  • Retained the Cleveland Clinic, which notably expanded its Beachwood footprint after taking over the former Bank of America/MBNA building.
  • Welcomed a 135-room boutique Aloft Hotel.
  • Several  new upscale multifamily apartments were developed totaling more than 700 more units including the Vue, and Vanguard Beachwood. 
  • Updated the 190 acre Commerce Park industrial/business center to accommodate residential, retail and service-related businesses.
  • Developed a Master Plan in cooperation with Cuyahoga County, and established an advisory committee to help decide future directions for our vibrant community.
  • Welcomed Nordstrom to Beachwood Place as an anchor store.

Safety: The police and fire departments have worked tirelessly to become best in class. Among many notable accomplishments, Beachwood:

  • Became one of the first communities in Ohio to install a reverse 911 system.
  • Drastically improved and built new facilities including the Richmond/Fairmount fire station.
  • Equipped police cruisers with automated external defibrillators.
  • Implemented a multi-camera system to increase the police and fire department’s ability to monitor incidents.
  • Established a prescription drug box to help keep potentially dangerous substances out of the community.
  • Initiated a lockbox program, for easier access to homes in an emergency
  • Secured a fire truck and ladder with the capacity to stretch 137 feet in the air, the tallest in Ohio at the time.
  • Launched a shredding program to help protect residents against identity theft.

Unparalleled Municipal Services: One of the things I hear most often from our residents and visitors is about how our roads are cleared fast when it snows. I’m proud of these excellent and aggressive snow removal efforts and other outstanding municipal services. Among other things, we:

  • Launched an aggressive street repair program and sewer improvements.
  • Introduced curbside recycling and leaf pick-up.
  • Implemented a community mulch program by recycling the leaves/brush the City collects.
  • Created an automated rubbish pick-up system.
  • Hired a certified arborist.
  • Installed multiple new playgrounds, tennis courts and a 55-acre city park.
  • Opened the $5 million Family Aquatic Center, arguably one of the region’s best community aquatic facilities.
  • Completed a major expansion/renovation of our state of the art Community Center.
  • Increased programming and trips for senior citizens, including a senior transportation program, a senior dance, yearbook and others.
  • Developed a popular summer concert program.
  • Started community-wide events including a Fall Festival.
  • Introduced youth summer camp programming that consistently sells out

General/Administrative: 

  • Redesigned the city’s web site, launched social media pages and developed a mobile app.  Among the features there are user-friendly options to keep residents and others notified via email or text messages about community activities, meetings or other important matters.
    • Established a residential e-newsletter, Beachwood Insider.
    • Brought Wi-Fi to the city park and Beachwood Family Aquatic Center.

We have accomplished all of this in a city with excellent fiscal health; one that has consistently received the highest bond ratings and where property taxes are among the lowest and housing values are among the highest in the county.

Our success and reputation is built upon a collaborative partnership between the city, the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce and Beachwood City Schools. I have enjoyed working within that partnership for 23 years, and can assure you it is constantly improving our city. Throughout my tenure, Beachwood’s business community has provided a circle of support with a clear vision for the future.

There’s not possibly enough space here to name everyone who deserves my thanks, but I hope I get to each of you in due time. For now, I would like to thank some of those I’ve worked closely with as Mayor, including members of City Council who were an integral part of my administration: Mel Jacobs, Fredric Goodman, Mark Wachter, Mark Mintz, Martin Arsham and Si Wachsberger, who was instrumental in getting me into city government.

Thank you to Armin Guggenheim, who has been a great support to me and a tireless advocate for Beachwood. Thank you also to Jonathan and Shelly Berns, as well as Dick Adler.

And most importantly, my deepest gratitude to my supportive family— my wife Harriet and my children Carey and Jamie.

Our city’s success story is bound to continue with Mayor Martin Horwitz and our City Council, and I sincerely wish them much success in the future.

While my time as Mayor is ending shortly, my time as your fellow resident, colleague and/or friend continues well into the future. I look forward to my continued involvement in the city as a resident who is immensely proud to call Beachwood home.

Thank you, truly from the bottom of my heart, for choosing me to lead this great City for nearly two and a half decades. It was one of the greatest honors of my life, and I am forever grateful.