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Falls Council honors longstanding mayor

1/2/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

“You can come out of this meeting with a full heart and your head held high because you have done a great job,” said Councilman Jerry James (D-Ward 7) to Mayor Don Robart at a packed Cuyahoga Falls Council meeting Dec. 23.

Council approved legislation commending Robart for his service to the Falls as mayor from 1986 to 2013 and presented him with an engraved clock in appreciation for all he has accomplished during his seven terms in office.

Council members, city employees and residents spent a great deal of time praising Robart for his 28 years of commitment to the community, following a video presentation highlighting his numerous achievements as mayor.

Councilwoman Mary Ellen Pike (R-Ward 2) said the video couldn’t show the hearts of all the people Robart has touched. She said each resident of the Falls younger than 28 automatically thinks of Robart when they think of their hometown because he is the only mayor they have known.

James said Robart touched many lives, even sending personalized congratulatory notes to local students when they accomplished significant achievements.

“Words cannot express the legacy that this man has brought to the city,” said Councilman Terry Mader (R-Ward 8). “It has been a privilege serving with Mayor Robart.”

Robart said he strived to do what was in the best interest of the city with every decision made, and he has no regrets.

Through tears, the mayor, whose final term ended Dec. 31, expressed gratitude for his cabinet and the city department heads for their “professionalism” and always doing a “phenomenal job.”

“I thank the citizens of Cuyahoga Falls for giving me 28 years to be the leader of this community,” he said, before getting a standing ovation. “I just pray I have lived up to their expectations.”

Robart lost his seat in the Nov. 5 General Election to Council President Don Walters (D-Ward 6).

Walters said he knows he has “big shoes to fill,” but he “plans on having big feet.”

“I have the highest respect for you,” he told Robart.

Also during the meeting, Council authorized a contract between Robart and Metro Parks, Serving Summit County Board of Park Commissioners for the donation of property on Tise Road.

Service Director Valerie Wax Carr explained the city purchased the property in 1999 to be used for a large substation for the city’s electric system from FirstEnergy and through the purchase acquired a homestead on the site. While the city tried to find a use for the home for the past 13 years, it was agreed upon by the original owners of the property recently that it could be donated to the Metro Parks, she said. Carr explained the approved legislation allows the city to gift Metro Parks about 9 acres of land, after the Dec. 30 demolition of the structure. She said Metro Parks will use the property in conjunction with a trail project for mountain bikes.

Council also adopted legislation:

  • establishing the annual appropriations of money for the current expenses, capital expenditures and other expenses for 2014;
  • authorizing Director of Public Service Valerie Wax Carr to enter into a contract for cleaning services at the municipal building;
  • authorizing a contract without competitive bidding with River Falls Property II LLC for the sale of certain real property not needed for any municipal purpose;
  • authorizing a contract for the demolition of buildings and removal of demolition debris at 2227-2231 Fourth St.;
  • authorizing Director of Community Development Susan Truby to make a sub-grant of Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund Grant proceeds to Portage Crossing LLC to provide financial assistance for environmental remediation and site preparation at the Portage Crossing site; and
  • authorizing Truby to enter into a Community Reinvestment Area Tax Exemption Agreement jointly with Falls River LLC and Testa Enterprises.

James announced Council would hold an organizational meeting Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St., and consider Walters’ cabinet selections: Russ Balthis for director of law; Bryan Hoffman for director of finance; Eric Czetli for director of service; and Diane Sheridan for director of community development.

Council additionally will hold committee meetings Jan. 6 and a regular meeting Jan. 13, both at 6:30 p.m., at the Natatorium.

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