Woodmere Mayor Ben Holbert shared his goals of economic development, beautification and promotion for the village in 2020.

He spoke at the weekly meeting of the Chagrin Highlands Rotary Club this past Friday at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, where he shared details of Woodmere’s recent accomplishments and his vision for the future.

“Our objective continues to be that people recognize that when they come into the village, they recognize that they are in the Village of Woodmere, and that this community is in fact a gem,” he said.

Mayor Holbert said that the village is proud to be home to 300 businesses, including high-end retail shops and restaurants at Eton Chagrin Boulevard and local favorites at Village Square such as Corky and Lenny’s and Malley’s Chocolates. In the last two years, Mayor Holbert said that the village has contacted every business to address any needs or concerns that they may have. Gary Murphy of Stone Mountain Group, LLC has a contract with the village to serve as an economic development consultant.

“This administration wants to be business-friendly,” the mayor said.

One specific goal that Mayor Holbert mentioned is to create more class-A retail space in the village. He said that the village wants the entire expanse of Chagrin Boulevard to be a destination location. He recalled when Bob Stark of Stark Enterprises first took over the management of Eton Chagrin Boulevard. Mayor Holbert said that Mr. Stark wanted his property to be “the Rodeo Drive of this region.”

The mayor said that Mr. Stark’s vision has come true as stores like Tiffany’s and Kendra Scott thrive at the shopping center, which is lined with luscious gardens in the summer months. He also said that popular restaurants, such as Paladar and Mitchell’s Fish Market, are a great place to meet up with friends and family or take clients out to lunch.

According to Mayor Holbert, Woodmere will “rebound” in 2020. He said that the finance department uses a “sharp pencil” in maintaining fiscal responsibility for the village. Last month, Village Treasurer Rhonda Hall resigned and the village is currently seeking a replacement. The mayor added that the village will not be paralyzed by fear and must find ways to be innovative, creative and visionary leaders. He said that village leaders cannot assume that things will go well, but instead must be intentional with their actions.

“The horizon is very bright for our community,” Mayor Holbert said.

He also mentioned recent accomplishments in the village, including Woodmere’s first K-9 officer Revan, who was born in November of 2018. He was sworn in as an officer in January of 2019 and his handler is Officer Christopher Dotson. Revan is used for handler protection, narcotics detection and tracking missing people and fleeing suspects.

In addition, in 2018 Woodmere received an in-kind grant for master planning services from the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission to shape the village’s future in terms of marketing, housing, branding, wellness and mobility. Village Council is awaiting a presentation on the commission’s findings.

The Ohio Public Works Commission awarded Woodmere a $1.2 million grant for the widening of Chagrin Boulevard in 2021, which will add one westbound lane from East Brainard Road to Orange Place Drive, he added.

Mayor Holbert said that the village is looking forward to collaborating with county officials, state and federal representatives and senators, the Orange City School District and other local organizations to advance the village while also giving back to the community.

“This year is an opportunity to escalate the village in many respects,” he said.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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