State of the City Presented to (Entire) City
Alex Hall, 03-29-2019

Mayor Don Walters gives his annual State of the City Address before the crowd following the regular city council meeting March 11th.
Mike Searl
Mayor Don Walters delivered his 2018 State of the City Address—the address covers the previous year—immediately following the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on March 11th. This marks the second year in a row he has delivered the address both in front of a select group at the Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon—which occurred on February 19th—and following a council meeting where any resident who wished to could hear it live.

The address covered many topics of interest to the city and its progress under the Walters administration, including city finances, which the Mayor said have seen a cash balance increase of over $1.5 million since he took office. Additionally, $9 million in debt has been paid down, and the Moody Rating Agency Target of a 20% balance of yearly revenues has been surpassed at 27%. The Mayor also touted investments in infrastructure and public works improvement projects. He called the reopening of Front Street to vehicular traffic and the renovations to the Downtown area “the biggest moment that happened in 2018,” going a step further to suggest it “was arguably one of the biggest moments in the city’s history over the past 40 years.”

The address went on to mention the strong housing market in the city, as well as the development of a public art master plan and Green Initiatives Working group. The latter was described as an attempt “to assess our city’s current and future practices and policies to ensure that we are developing, implementing, and maintaining environmentally, socially and economically sustainable community initiatives and policies,” which include the “Recycle Responsibly” campaign and the Law Department’s commitment to a paper-saving upgrade of software and case management systems.

The Mayor also made mention of the new Neighborhood Excellence, Communications and Community Outreach Department, which has established social media presences to directly engage with residents in addition to holding Front Yard Information meetings and overseeing the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative. Also, the Falls Downtown Fridays event series was highlighted, which raised $37,000 for charity, and for which the city will partner with 91.3 The Summit this year.

City efforts to combat the opioid epidemic were also covered, including the Mayor being awarded the Dr. Bob Smith Trailblazer Award from the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board. He also discussed efforts by the Police Department and Fire Department besides generally discussing their departmental developments. Another department discussed was the Parks Department, whose leadership has been taken over by former Stow mayor Sara Kline.

In the end, the Mayor concluded that the “State of the City is incredibly strong.”

The invitation for the mayor to redeliver the address following the regular council meeting was extended by Council President Mary Nichols-Rhodes on the occasion of the 2017 address. The councilwoman told the Falls Free Press that “it's a tradition that he only presents at the [Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon], and I think that a State of the City [Address] should be presented to the public, so last year, in my first year as president of council, I asked if he could present it [at City Council] as well.” She added, “I just felt that it was very important that it be [delivered] to the public...who elected him. We are the public here...and it's in the evening, when us working folk can be here.”

The Mayor said “The SOC speech at the Chamber of Commerce event predates me. I am not sure why it was not given in a more public setting. We do have the video posted on our city social media pages, and I do believe it has been posted on the website each year for many years. Some would rather hear it in person and I am happy to oblige.”

Read the transcript of the State of the City Address on the city's website at http://www.cityofcf.com/sites/default/files/editor/docs/2018%20State%20of%20the%20City%20-%20City%20of%20Cuyahoga%20Falls.pdf.


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