Economic recovery slow in Parma Heights, critics growing

Economic recovery slow in Parma Heights, critics growing
Parma Heights (Source: WOIO)
Parma Heights (Source: WOIO)

PARMA HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - It is a site that at one time was a ray of hope for Parma Heights, the site of the former Church in the Woods.

The site has been sold and the woods cut down to make way for a Senior Care center.

What is frustrating to neighbors is the fact that the trees have remained stacked up on the site since April. The site has become a rallying point for critics of the city and nearby residents who call it unsightly.

Mayor Michael Byrne says the delay isn't because of a lack of action, the trees had to be cut early to avoid EPA problems concerning Indiana brown bats. A similar concern delayed the start of work on the American Greetings site in Westlake a few years ago.

Byrne is keenly aware of his critics saying, "We're trying to do as many things as we can to make sure we keep as many people as possible happy."

For example the footprint of the project was moved away from a creek and homes nearby, groundbreaking on what will be known as Randall Residences is currently set for September.

But other challenges remain. Pearl Road is a vibrant artery through the city, but not as vibrant as it once was. Plaza after plaza has vacant storefronts. Retailers who remain vibrant elsewhere haven't been able to make it in Parma Heights.

Byrne says there is hope, a nearly vacant plaza recently got a new owner.  "The recession hurt, the cut in the local government fund has really hurt," added Mayor Byrne.

The most glaring reminder of the way the economy has hit Parma Heights is the Cornerstone Project, now a dusty dirty lot.  Mayor Byrne says a new developer is making new progress in attracting a potential tenant.

He notes the larger issue for the city, "We don't have a diverse tax base you know, it's all on the back of our residents and we're trying to provide the best services we can to them, they really, they're really paying the price."

He observes that with an older population and no direct interstate access, it is a big hurdle to overcome.

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