Parma: A Year In Review
Just before Christmas, Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter was searching for last-minute stocking stuffers at The Shoppes at Parma. A woman who knew the mayor approached him near the front entrance of Fast Eddie’s, where he was picking up gift certificates. “I just want you to know mayor – I’m doing all my shopping in Parma this year,” she said. DeGeeter smiled and thanked her. When at restaurants, or grocery stores, or other places, residents who recognize DeGeeter usually come up to him. “It’s a good way to take the pulse of the community,” he said. “People aren’t shy about expressing their opinions. I hear about issues they’re having in their neighborhoods, or listening as they express their frustrations. But I’m hearing more often than not about the pride people have in our city and the progress we’re making in Parma.”
In 2017, several trends point to a positive outlook for Parma, said Erik Tollerup, the city’s Economic & Community Development Director. “Parma showed continued economic growth in our industrial and manufacturing sectors,” Tollerup said. “Housing values also are rebounding from the recession. For example, values went from $85,000 in 2015 to a year-to-date average of $110,839 in 2017.” Those upward trends also are reflected in a better than expected end-of-the-year financial outlook for the city – income tax receipts are expected to be $500,000 above projections. DeGeeter said those are positive indicators for Parma, but city officials remain focused on keeping down spending while also carefully monitoring month-to-month income tax trends. “Since I can remember, there hasn’t been a budget that wasn’t challenging in this city – whether coping with the impact of the recession, or facing the effects of deep state cuts that continue to this day,” DeGeeter said. “That’s why all of us in the city are focused on keeping and attracting jobs and businesses here as well as maintaining our housing stock – each of those things help create a tax base that allows us to provide services to the people we represent.”
For example, the city is working with the Parma Wellness Center (PWC), which plans to build a $10-million facility to grow and process medical marijuana on a vacant parcel along Corporate Drive. The payroll is expected to be between $1 million to $2 million when the facility becomes operational, PWC officials said. The state set a start date in September 2018 for Ohio’s medical marijuana program to be fully functional. Already, the state awarded PWC a provisional cultivator’s license. The business also applied for a processing license in December, although the state has yet to award those provisional licenses, nor those for dispensing medical marijuana.
Along with PWC, the city has worked with Great Lakes Medicinal and North Coast Therapeutics on their proposed medical marijuana facility. Those entities applied for licenses to process and dispense medical marijuana at 5341 Pearl Road, a former bank building. Additionally, two of the main principals in Great Lakes Medicinal and North Coast Therapeutics also are affiliated with Bearing Technologies – a bearing manufacturing company planning to move part of its operations to Parma when its lease expires at another facility in 2018. The move will mean an additional 50 jobs. “Economic development is critical for Parma’s future health,” DeGeeter said. “It’s a priority for my administration, City Council, and our elected citywide officials.” Keeping the city’s neighborhoods is another major priority. And, in 2017, those efforts yielded national recognition for Parma as one of the safest cities for its population size.
SafeHome ranked Parma the 2nd safest city in Ohio for communities with more than 42,000 residents, while the National Council for Home Safety and Security listed Parma as the 64th safest city in the nation. “It’s a true testament to our safety forces and our residents,” DeGeeter said. “But we must always be pro-active in our efforts to keep our community safe.” To that end, the Parma Police Department added a uniformed bike patrol to promote visibility and community policing and purchased two new drones to aid officers in the field. The department also will roll out body-worn cameras paid for through a $135,000 federal grant.
Parma also is on the forefront in battling the opioid crisis – a major issues for communities across Ohio and the nation. Since 2015, Parma’s first responders have carried and treated overdose victims with Narcan provided by the UH Parma Medical Center. Eight-five percent of those are Parma residents. At this point, police officers and firefighters respond to about five overdoses per week. To help supplement on-going local efforts, Parma received an $87,500 grant to create a quick response team which will offer counseling to overdose victims and family members identified through a screening process. “We cannot solve this crisis through arrests and law enforcement action alone,” Parma Police Chief Joe Bobak said. “Prevention and treatment are essential in combating an epidemic that is destroying lives and families.” Parma also filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors – the third Ohio city to do so – to recoup the city’s expenses in fighting the drug crisis. “This epidemic touches all demographics, ages, and zip codes,” DeGeeter said. “And it’s one of the major challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Beyond focusing on economic development and safety, the city also has made the quality of life offered to residents a priority. For instance, Parma’s Recreation Department unveiled a new splash pad this past summer at Anthony Zielinski Parma – and it became one of the city’s most popular attractions for young children and families. The project in part was funded by a $225,000 gift to the city. “It was one of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved over the nearly 30 years that I’ve worked in the recreation department,” Recreation Director Mickey Vittardi said. “We’re always trying to teak and add attractions to help make Parma an even more popular destination for families.”
In 2017, the city also built in Michael A. Reis Park two outdoor roller hockey courts and completed in James Day Park the All Kids Playground accessible for children with disabilities. “As a city, we’re constantly trying to improve –whether through focusing on the quality of life we offer, the economic development we attempt to foster, or the great level of public safety our police officers and firefighters provide,” DeGeeter said. “I think we made strides in those efforts in 2017.”
Communications Director for the City of Parma