On February 28th, we completed another successful event for our organization. Some of the Young Professionals of Parma assembled at the annual Parma State of the City address. YPs from the Parma area joined other local residents and business owners to hear first hand from Mayor Tim DeGeeter the state of our great city and the plans that are in the works to make it better. Mayor DeGeeter’s speech did not disappoint.
We started the evening off by walking through at the General Motors Metal Fabrication Division Facility to get to the plant floor where the presentation was held. What an impressive sight to see a large scale manufacturing facility where motor vehicle are being made right here in beautiful Parma, Ohio. The machines were massive, high tech, and well maintained. It was clear why the mayor wanted to hold the state of the city address in such a pinnacle facility.
The presentation was kicked off by GM Plant Manager Lamar Rucker welcoming the Mayor and telling everyone how proud he was to announce a $218 million dollar investment that GM was making into the plant to create more jobs in the Parma area. Lamar talked about how he had started his career at this plant and how proud he was to return to be plant manager for the GM Parma Facility. Lamar then turned the presentation over to Mayor Degeeter and like the family man our mayor is, he had his kids go up to the podium to announce his presentation.
Mayor DeGeeter began his speech by talking about how Parma is on the come back trend, a city of opportunity, and that is why the city had adopted the hashtag that was started by the Young Professionals of Parma, #thisisparma.
The mayor discussed how millennials are looking to live in unique, affordable, and walkable areas, all of which we have in Parma. In 2014–2015, Parma was said to be one of the top cities attracting millennials. Which was shown in real estate trends between 12/15 and 12/16. Homes being sold in Parma were on the market for 28% less time than in the past. The Median home value is up by 14.6% in Parma. Parma has made it through the housing crisis and still maintains a 74% owner/occupant rate. Mayor DeGeeter put an emphasis on the need of the city to attract more young families and young professionals. The mayor stated that the city plans to revisit his office’s initiative to offer first-time home buyer tax credits to college educated professionals and families. The Mayor stated that University Hospitals, Metro Health, General Motors, Cuyahoga Community College, and the Cuyahoga County Library employs many young professionals already, but we need them to live here as well.
Mayor DeGeeter discussed the the investments being made by the city into the community. The city has invested $360 thousand dollars a year into sidewalks, streetscapes, and store fronts. Over the past six years, the city has put $24 million dollars of grant money into the cities infrastructure. The Mayor promised that the city plans to improve the roads. The mayor also talked about the $75 thousand dollar Rockside Quarry District project that the city is working on with West Creek Conservancy where they plan to make the area around Rockside/Broadview Road more liveable and walkable.
Mayor DeGeeter mentioned that Parma’s recreation opportunities are some of the best in Northeast Ohio. The West Creek Reservation received more than 100,000 visitors last year. The city is now working with West Creek Conservancy to help them acquire the Parmadale property. This would add 80 acres of land to West Creek and give the reservation a total of 500 acres of land. The City made updates to the their facilities this past year by installing two pickleball courts in Ries Park. The city plans to repurpose the area behind Ries Rink and instal a roller hockey rink. Veterans Memorial Park will be getting four new tennis courts this year with money that was leveraged from the county legislature.
The Mayor discussed the new splash pad that is scheduled to open this Memorial Day at the Crossroads of Parma. The splash pad, located in Zielinski Park, was made possible by an anonymous donor. Mayor DeGeeter discussed the success of the Shoppes at Parma. The Shoppes at Parma are close to completion, the stores are busy, and more businesses are coming to the area. Adjacent from Panda Express, the city has just approved a Firehouse Subs and a Lebron James backed Blaze Pizza. Retail isn’t the only business doing well in Parma. University Hospital teamed up with the Parma Fire Department to pilot Ohio’s first stroke treatment program. Metro Health has taken over 80% of the Health Spans former facility and the Cuyahoga County Library Branches in Parma have the highest circulation rate out of all of their facilities.
Mayor DeGeeter talked with pride when he mentioned the small local businesses that have been flocking to Parma. Among those businesses mentioned were Make Believe Family Fun Center that provides a unique experience for families to be able to play together. YP member Robin Schulze’s business Little Birdie Wine Nest was mentioned for bringing its wine sales, tastings, art classes, yoga classes, and local art from artist and musicians. Soza Fitness was mentioned because of their commitment to Parma and owner DK Jones’ love of the city.
Parma was ranked one of the safest cities of its size in 2016. The Parma Police Department will be starting a new community policing initiative this summer when they launch their Bike Unit. The unit will be staffed by six officers and will focus on the business districts. The goal is to prevent crime before it occurs in the city. The Bike Unit will also run the drug education program.
The Mayor concluded the State of the City address by saying that the people who live here are what make Parma a great place to live. Mayor DeGeeter thanked the Friends of Parma Police, the Young Professionals of Parma, the 40 World War II Veteran recognized at city hall this year, Sterles Country House Chef Natasha Pogrebinski and her family, and all of the citizens of Parma for making the community great!
After the event, the Young Professionals of Parma headed to the Wagon Wheel Pub to discuss the address from a YP perspective. We were joined by students from Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences who were attending the address for a project they are doing on the Parma area. We had a chance to discuss the mayor’s speech and enjoy great local food from the Wagon Wheel. We hope to make the event an annual occurrence to get more YPs more actively involved in the city.
This post was authored by Bill Baraona.