Bedford is a great city. But, like many cities, it has its share of problems and issues. Below are listed some of the issues that Heather feels Bedford is facing.
Crime and drugs
Bedford is statistically a very safe city to live in. Crime in Bedford is lower than many other cities in the Northeast Ohio region. Nevertheless, crime is creeping into our city at an alarming rate. The epidemic of drugs, especially meth and heroine, that is plaguing the State of Ohio is also creating serious problems in Bedford. We have not been immune to the crime and problems that this drug problem brings.
Heather knows that the police department in Bedford has been working diligently to address these issues and she applauds them for their efforts. She also feels that we can do more on the social and government side to help reduce the drug and crime problem here in Bedford.
Bedford’s public image
Everyone who lives in Bedford knows what a nice city Bedford is. Unfortunately, that does not carry through to our public image. Many people from outside Bedford have a negative impression of Bedford which has disastrous effects on things like home values and business investment.
Heather believes that it is time for Bedford to reclaim its public image. Gone are the days of relying solely on word of mouth or the Plain Dealer to make your city look good. In fact in today’s world, most of the time the only news people outside Bedford may read about Bedford is negative because, let’s face it, bad news sells.
Cities must now actively campaign for themselves online and offline and present an image of a city that is desirable to live in. They must take steps to market themselves and Heather is well versed in both online and offline marketing.
Point of sale
Point of Sale in Bedford has resulted in a number of disastrous outcomes for the city. Not only has the city been caught up in a costly lawsuit regarding the Constitutionality of the Point of Sale in regards to illegal search and seizure, but the Point of Sale laws made Bedford far more susceptible to the effects of the Great Recession and the accompanying housing crisis as well as opening the doors to slum lords and shady landlords to buy up large amounts of properties in Bedford. The Point of Sale in Bedford has also seriously hindered Bedford’s ability to rebound from the effects of the Great Recession. We lag behind other comparable Cleveland suburbs in terms of recovering from the housing crisis.
The Point Of Sale in the City of Bedford is an idea whose time has come and gone. Many proponents of the Point of Sale law will point to the fact that the law has been in effect since the 1960s. But the world and Bedford was a very different place then. This law is over 50 years old. Does Bedford need a way to maintain the appearance of properties in the city? Absolutely! But the Point of Sale is no longer the best way to approach this problem and should be replaced.
Too many poorly maintained rental properties
There is nothing wrong with rental properties in and of themselves, but when rental properties are not properly maintained, they can blight the entire city. We have this kind of situation in Bedford. Bad landlords have made it possible for drugs and more crime to move into the city. Because the properties are poorly maintained, the renters move frequently and this results in the Bedford Schools seeing a revolving door of children who come and go in the school district, which then bring down the overall scores in the school district. This in turn brings down the property values and the image of the city.
The fact of the matter is that there are already laws on the books that should address poorly maintained rental properties. But the city is not fully enforcing these laws. Heather would like to see a greater effort on the city’s part to force bad landlords to properly take care of their rental properties.
Lack of business development
Over the past several decades, Bedford has been slowly bleeding its businesses and the businesses that have gone have not been sufficiently replaced. This has resulted in significant revenue loss for the city as well as unsightly, blighted and empty properties.
Many of Bedford’s laws and policies are not friendly to new businesses and just as many laws and policies (or more precisely the lack of enforcement of laws and policies) are not pushing lax landlords to properly develop the commercial properties they own. Heather would like to work within existing government structures and laws to both better welcome new businesses and encourage commercial property owners to better develop the commercial land in Bedford.
Lack of investing in the future
The world has changed quickly and the City of Bedford is struggling to keep up. As people start to communicate through new and varied ways, Bedford has fallen behind in how best to communicate and share information with both current and potential residents and business owners.
It is time for Bedford to develop a more cohesive plan on how to operate in the 21st century. And this plan should have the input of people who understand the technologies and advancements of the 21st century.
Lack of City Council transparency
The Bedford City Council has on several occasions failed to disclose information, lied about information or told half truths about information that citizens have asked about or that they have presented in open council. This is an insult to all of the citizens of Bedford.
The current city council has also failed to keep up with modern methods of information distribution, such as not posting Meeting Minutes to the internet in a timely fashion or publishing video copies of City Council meetings. In this day and age, with the ease of the technology to do so, this is inexcusable.
Semi traffic on Broadway
Bedford’s Downtown area, which is part of Ward 5, was recently named one of the 15 Most Beautiful Downtowns in America by Architectural Digest. And our beautiful Downtown is being marred by hundreds of semi-trucks that drive through there on Broadway. These trucks damage roads, create a massive noise pollution problem and leave behind dirty residue.
It is time these large trucks found other routes to the highway. Allowing them to drive though the Downtown area only costs money and drive visitors away.
Absence of racial diversity in the government
It is an elephant in the room that Bedford has a racial diversity problem within its government. For a city that is nearly 50% African American and with one of the the largest Sikh populations in the Northeast Ohio area, we have an alarmingly white City Hall, government staff, police and fire department. Heather has spoken to people within the workings of Bedford’s government and she does truly believe that this was not an intentional decision on the city’s part but rather a lack of racially diverse applicants is the issue. And she will admit that she has seen some small headway on this issue. But she also believes that simply saying “No people of color apply for these jobs” is a poor excuse for this issue.
Bedford needs to do a better job of reaching out to all of its residents and encouraging them to apply for positions within the city. She would like to work on making the city better at integrating and welcoming everyone into all aspects of the city.
The city’s aging infrastructure and buildings
Bedford is a city rich in history. But with history comes age. And with age comes deterioration. Deterioration in a city’s infrastructure must be actively addressed.
The City of Bedford has done a pretty good job of addressing aging infrastructure issues, but they could do better. Too often, the City Council gets caught up in focusing on little details rather than on issues that really matter. For example, the state of our city welcome signs can take up as much time in a city council meeting as the fact that our city’s water lines are leaking like sieves and costing the city significant amounts of money. Heather would like to see more priority put on infrastructure issues that are more urgent.
Is there an issue or concern that you feel Heather needs to know about? Click here to send Heather an email to tell her about it.