(Posted Jan. 12, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Messenger Editor
With his first year as London’s mayor in the books, Patrick Closser delivered his first state of the city address at the Jan. 5 city council meeting. He listed attraction and retention of business as a top priority in 2017.
Disappointed to see some downtown businesses close and a downtown restaurant venture fail to materialize in 2016, Closser said he is doubling his efforts to strengthen London’s business health.
“This will not be a solo effort as I need the help of citizens to shop local,” he said.
Closser and fellow city leaders have already talked to a home developer and a business developer about potential projects. He’s also excited about the opening of a new home-cooking restaurant in the former Gee’s China Lantern on East Center Street, likely in February.
Also in 2017, Closser plans to seek out new revenue streams and continue to cut wasteful spending. The city once again will apply for an Ohio Department of Transportation grant to improve Park Avenue. New surfacing, curbs, gutters, bridge, and sidewalk repairs are needed. The city was turned down for the grant the past two years. Closser said chances are better this year because ODOT is targeting the Park Avenue bridge project for 2017.
The city could receive a large chunk of Ohio Public Works Commission funding this year, the first the city has seen in 12 years.
“We are expecting to receive approximately $1 million in free money to go towards a road project,” Closser said.
Subscription to a grant finding website also is generating new funding possibilities, he added.
Recreation is another primary focus for Closser. Thanks to a generous donation last year, the city swimming pool received much needed maintenance and upgrades. More is to come this year with new steps, ladders, diving boards, LED pool lights, and electricity upgrades planned. Another generous donation, this time $50,000, will keep the ball rolling.
“We have many ideas on how we would like to use that money, and it will revamp our facility even more,” Closser said.
On Jan. 5, Stanley Electric, a car parts manufacturer in London, donated money for an outdoor movie theater, which will be put to use at Cowling Park starting this spring. Additionally, Access Cowling and the London Community Organization are poised to start the second phase of the all-inclusive playground upgrades at the park.
“Recreation is an important quality of life issue in the city. This year, I can only see it getting better,” Closser said.
With these and other goals in place, Closser wrapped up his address, stating, “I am truly excited for 2017. The team we have in place in the city of London is very strong, and together we will be able to accomplish so much.”
In his first year as mayor, Closser spent 1,862 hours on city business, traveled over 14,000 miles, attended over 500 meetings, 13 conferences and 60 special events, completed 11 speaking engagements, and presided over 20 weddings.
“I can truly say 2016 was very busy, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.