How to keep people in West Park:
1. We need our Catholic Schools.
City workers also need help paying for them. Word has it the state's voucher program no longer offers assistance to families above a certain income level, yet thousands and thousands of dollars go unawarded every year. Check it out. Until 2 or 3 years ago, funds not awarded to low-income families were awarded via a lottery system to middle-income families. Why did this practice go away?
2. Public playgrounds:
Many of them have newer equipment and are within walking distance, but evidence of ghetto is everywhere -- graffiti, trash, weeds, unemptied trash cans, and uncut lawns. Let's crack down on the drug dealers and teenage hookers at Gunning Park. (Apparently having cops living in the neighborhood isn't enough of a deterrent. How ironic.) Let's maintain the playground and property at the now-vacant Valley View Elementary School, where hundreds of families play every week. (My 6-year-old learned to spell five curse words, thanks to years-old graffiti on the jungle gym.)
4. Encourage business owners
along Rocky River Dr. and Lorain Ave. to paint their signs, cut the grass, pull some weeds, and maybe plant some flowers. Remove the weeds and gravel in the vacant lots. Curb appeal is critical!
5. Find tenants
for the vacant property in Kamms Corner and along Lorain Ave. The growth of new pubs and restaurants is encouraging, but so many empty storefronts project a vision of decay and are a magnet for vandals.
6. Fix the sidewalks:
One of the appeals of West Park is the "neighborhood" feel. Shady streets, a feeling of safety, lots of streetlights, dogs galore. But you can't walk three feet without tripping over a crack.
7. Increase the good things:
The new Sunday morning farmer's market pulls in a nice crowd — educated, cultured, family-oriented folks concerned with health and buying local. We need more of these venues! Locally owned coffee shops, pizza joints, and ice cream parlors: a nice change from the chains. Great owners, all of 'em. July 4 parade: Again, another West Park staple drawing families galore. Families: Blue and white-collar folks who are more focused on their children and their jobs than on their wardrobes, their cars, or their McMansions.
Many of us find good things to embrace in West Park, but when residency passes, we're outta here. Why? Schools, schools, and schools. I love the Catholic elementary school we've chosen for our boys, but I'd rather put that $6,000 a year into a mortgage for a larger house and yard. Why else? With a small yard, we rely on public spots to play catch and run around. We walk to the park every day, but often leave in disgust. Why else? Freedom of choice. It's my husband's job to protect the city, not pay for it.