Lakewood Year In Review 2020

So much has happened this year, it’s baffling. The following flashbacks (and a few updates) are just a sampling.

New government. Mayor George and council members Neff and Shachner were only sworn in at the beginning of January, and Kepple only appointed 10 months ago. What a first year on the job.

Big fire in Rocky River. The huge fire just across the river, on Feb. 23, destroyed in-progress condos. An explosion even flung debris across the freeway. The site is currently leveled and empty; investigation has not determined a cause.

Coin shortage. People remember the shutdown, in late winter, but a lot happened within that period. Example: coins were in such short supply at one point, that one Lakewood bank could give change for about three dollars, max.

“One Lakewood Place” is canceled. In early April the developer and the City decided not to move forward with the proposed development on the former Lakewood Hospital site, cleared and remediated at city expense, after all. The city has since negotiated a settlement, in the interest of permitting discussions with a new developer unencumbered.

The 2020 Primary. A mess. By the time a month of pandemic-shutdown overtime postal voting concluded in mid-April, hardly anyone really noticed. For what it’s worth Joe Biden won a landslide first-place finish in Lakewood, perhaps not surprising given that opponents had dropped out by the time Ohio finished voting. The school levy passed, too.

Black Lives Matter actions. A BLM march and Lakewood Park event were, it’s fair to say, driven by solidarity with nationwide protests after George Floyd was killed. Local electeds nonetheless concurred with the assertion that racism is a public health crisis, and have responded with e.g. scrutiny of police procedures, and appointment of a diverse antiracism task force.

Diner out, Superscript In. COVID-19 has not spared Lakewood households or businesses. Government, institutions and residents have so far kept a lot running, or at least limping toward an “other side.” On Detroit, John’s Diner closed up and won’t reopen, but Cilantro will move in; on Madison, comic store Superscript opened in July and is still going.

Pyke Park. The unofficial “St. Charles Green” north of downtown is an official city park, as of August, named for Lakewood suffragist Bernice Pyke. The park remains mostly an unadorned green space, in response to resident wishes. But the Public Works Department removed various grungy debris from the ground, in addition to installing benches and a sign.

Census 2020. A pandemic disrupted a lot of plans for Census, along with everything else. Self-response became more important than ever, and the official ending was confused and vague. Nonetheless Lakewood surpassed Ohio’s average—and our own 2010 showing—with a 73.1% self-response rate.

Future VP pop-in visit. Senator Kamala Harris was in Lakewood on Oct. 24. The casual, unannounced appearance on Detroit Ave was oddly fitting with Lakewood’s 2020 campaign season (see below).

Accessible Halloween. Many events canceled because of the pandemic, while others have adapted, some in ways worth thinking about in future. Some households’ experiments with “contactless” trick-or-treating, for example, may have made 2020 the most accessible Halloween ever for those with physical challenges, in this city of front porch steps.

A year off from electioneering. America’s general election was anxiety inducing, obscenely expensive, and turnout record-setting. But within Lakewood it was an oddly quiet autumn. Various factors, the pandemic chief among them, made 2020 a strange respite after several years when ballot measures and fierce local elections kept phones and doorbells ringing every year, even or odd.

We are (still) in this together. Stay safe everyone.

Lakewood resident Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.

Matt Kuhns

Lakewood resident Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.

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Volume 16, Issue 24, Posted 12:20 PM, 12.16.2020