Stow Patch asked what Ward 1 citizens what they liked and dislike about their "patch" of town last week and Councilman Matt Riehl responded to the readers.
Riehl said he knows there's a mix of good and bad in his area of town, as well as a mix of housing, business and amenities.
Grin No. 1: The Fourth of July Parade
"It's a big community event and it goes straight through Ward 1," said Riehl. "It draws in thousands each year."
Click here for previous coverage of the parade.
Gripe No. 1: Street Lights and Sidewalks, or Lack Thereof
Ward 1 resident Ed Fisher said he dislikes the "extremely dark, unlighted streets ... I sure wish the sidewalk system was complete. Coupled with no streetlights, walking in the street after dusk is a real test in not getting run over."
Riehl said he's heard this complaint before and said the choice to have street lights and sidewalks is up to the residents.
"For example, to get street lights, it takes a certain percentage of signatures," said Riehl. "If the majority of residents want street lights, I support that."
However, residents will pay for the sidewalks and lights.
"The way it was set up in 1995 is that residents will be assessed for it," Riehl explained. "I think the yearly fee is about $20."
(Look at the .pdf attached to this post for further information on street light assessments.)
Grin No. 2: There's So Many Locally Owned Businesses in Ward 1
"There are several private, locally owned businesses ... I think that's very important," Riehl said. "Look at Kirbie's Meats, it's a great family owned business and it's the type of place when you go inside they know your name."
Some locally owned businesses Ward 1 boasts is Mocha Joe's, Dave's Tip Top, Great Harvest Bread, Stow Cone, Marty's Bike Shop, Swenson's, Isaly's II, Altieri's and more. Check out Patch's directory for more business listings.
Gripe No. 2: There's Still a Lot of Empty Retail Space
Need we say more than Stow-Kent Plaza?
Residents weighed in heavily on a Stow Patch story asking what anchor store should fill the mostly-vacant lot.
Riehl said although the lot is a negative part of his ward, there are still big anchor retail stores nearby in other retail districts. He said there are big box stores like Target, Acme, Giant Eagle and Macy's that bring dollars into the city.
A resident who emailed Editor Amanda Harnocz and asked to remain anonymous said he'd like the city to begin discussing "using public funds to clean up and demolish some of the old, junk retail buildings around Stow Cone."
Grin No. 3: The Neighborhoods are a 'Perfect Mix'
The Ward 1 councilman said he thinks the residential areas south of Graham Road are a "perfect mix of newer and older homes."
"I live on Sanford Avenue and I like the eclectic mix of housing, the abundance of large trees, and the many friendly neighbors I encounter."
Gripe No. 3: People Speed Through the Neighborhoods
"Being that our stretch of road (Biard Road) connects Route 59 and Graham Road, many people cut through, and hardly anyone obeys the 25 mph signs. Even the school bus, when empty, exceeds the speed limit," said Ward 1 resident Mindy Davis.
Riehl said this is a common problem.
"I get about three to five calls a week about this," he said. "I call the police department and ask if they can add it to the streets they watch for speeders."
If a resident gives permission, Riehl said a cruiser can sit in their driveway to watch for speeders.
"Unfortunately I hear about this a lot, we have a lot of residents with children and it's a sensitive issue," he said.
Grin No. 4: Three Schools, Several Parks are in Ward 1
Having several schools in one section of town makes the neighborhoods very family-friendly, he said.
"Plus, we have a lot of great parks in Ward 1 for families to use," he said. Adell Durbin, Northport Park, and Wetmore Park are located south of Graham.
"I’d say residents and neighborhoods enjoy those parks. It’s a good mix, Ward 1 is really where the action takes place, where you buy groceries, come to play and celebrate a community event," said Riehl.
Gripe No. 4: What Can Be Done About Residents Not Keeping Up on Homes?
"Too many Stow citizens are neglecting their houses and their upkeep. In order for Stow to be an attractive destination for new families, council and local government must do more to insure that the area is welcoming and aesthetically pleasing," said the resident who wished to remain anonymous.
Riehl said when he gets calls about residents not maintaining their homes, he calls the city inspector.
"I plan on looking at zoning codes for upkeep on homes, yards in the future," he said.
Contact Your Councilman
"I get a lot of calls overall for council and city issues, the budget ... things like that," he said. "I get nice calls too and I appreciate those, I just got a call on Monday from a resident about an issue we took care of for them."
Councilman Riehl lives on Maple Road and his phone number is 330-689-0343.
Editor's note: On April 30, look for a post for readers to discuss their likes/dislikes about Ward 2. Patch will then followup with Ward 2 Councilman Jim Costello the following week.