My name is Lance Cpl. Aaron Rice. I was a member of MAP-7 (“Blood Brothers,” June 2006). I have read a lot of articles about what my friends went through after I left, but none as good as yours. Thank you for writing such an honest portrayal of my friends’ experiences in Iraq.
Rating “Rating the Suburbs”
I’m certain you receive comments every year about the criteria you use for “Rating the Suburbs.” I don’t envy your task. Certainly your “big three” of education, safety and median housing price [increase] are important. Yet, as a native and lifelong resident of the area, I’m struck by the absence of a few other key areas:
• Community stability: Generally speaking, Greater Clevelanders like to stay put. Since a sense of community is a typical trait people seek, you could quantify housing turnover relative to a suburb’s housing base or request the number of inbound and outbound vehicle registrations for each suburb from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
• Safety: It seems there’s a consistent theme — the presence or absence of a concentration of shopping and restaurants. Where there are many amenities, there are more people — and where there are more people, it’s almost inevitable and a statistical certainty that there will be more crime. In weighting your rankings so heavily toward safety, you may be inadvertently penalizing suburbs that offer many amenities — and possibly also mischaracterizing the level of safety in their residential areas.
• Proximity to amenities (especially shopping, restaurants and the airport): The popularity of suburbs such as Cleveland Heights, Lakewood and Mentor are due in part to their unmatched clusters of restaurants and shopping. Perhaps you could create a system that rewards (or subtracts) points from suburbs based on their distance from, say, the airport as well as at least one major mall or shopping area, which tend to attract clusters of other stores and restaurants.
• Weather: Everyone here knows communities along the lake have more pleasant summers than those farther south. And they especially know which suburbs are victims of “lake effect” snow and which are blithely untouched. If you take as a given that a majority of Greater Clevelanders want less snow than more, perhaps you could assign more points for fewer inches of snow and deduct points for more inches of snow.
• Diversity: If 15 percent of a city’s residents are well-educated professionals of Asian descent who live in $500,000 homes, is this an accurate reflection of diversity? I wonder whether a different approach to quantifying diversity might be through an analysis of a suburb’s housing — with a weighting that favors suburbs with housing sales across a wide range of price points.
Schools, safety and home values are all important criteria. But when it comes down to daily living in our hectic lives, nothing beats making a quick hop to the store or restaurant, in decent weather, and feeling like you know people when you’re there.
James C. Sulecki
Ode to Oakwood
I read your excerpt on Oakwood Village (“Rating the Suburbs,” June 2006) and it sounded critical to me.
How sad that your magazine has missed the point about this county’s best-kept secret. You didn’t mention Oakwood Village has been ranked as one of the nation’s most walkable cities, thanks to the footpath that completely surrounds the village and invites residents to step out and feel safe to walk in a place close to home.
Nor did you mention the old-fashioned summer concerts that the village hosts in the Sam’s Club parking lot, which invite everyone to come enjoy the “oldies” or spend a night with “Elvis.” You also failed to mention what a senior-friendly community Oakwood Village is, thanks to Mayor Gary Gottschalk. He is the hero of every senior who fears growing old with nothing to do but sit and idle away the hours. Oakwood Village provides affordable road trips both near and far. Some cost as little as $5 with meals included.
Oakwood is reminiscent of those small towns where everybody knows your name and everyone enjoys lazy summer days together. I think Cleveland Magazine would do the Cleveland/Akron area a service by visiting with Mayor Gary Gottschalk and spending an afternoon seeing the town through different eyes. My mother, Marian, retired to Oakwood and I am very glad she did. She has more friends and is more active than she would have been sitting on her porch in some other suburb with no one knowing she existed. I don’t have to worry about her.
If you take the time to attend one of the many concerts this summer, I believe you will find that some things in life still are free … namely, old-fashioned neighborliness.
Editor’s Note: Based on reader responses, it’s clear Oakwood Village residents think we blew it by failing to mention the community’s walking trail in our Rating the Suburbs coverage. So, we asked editorial intern Tori Woods to lace up her shoes and hit the pavement:
As I stroll down the winding paved ribbon of the Oakwood Fitness Trail Network, the path curves by a commercial area, across the yard of a nursing home, and through the community’s residential areas. It is a pleasant trek, sunny in spots and dappled-shady from the many overhead trees in others. Gently sloping, it’s part of the bustle of this ’burb without being tangled in the traffic. The project, a $2.2 million undertaking, is unique in Northeast Ohio. Leading around and through the village for about five miles, it serves as a sidewalk and a fitness trail. It’s a two-for-one special. As I passed folks walking and biking, I found myself wishing my community had one, too. Call it classic fitness trail envy.
Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Beautiful
The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology would like to commend the members of your staff for their tremendous efforts on the “Gorgeous Guide” cover story in the April issue. It was wonderful to read about the fantastic experiences of your staff during their visits to the salons that were featured. It is inspiring to hear of such extraordinary customer service and it confirms why Ohio is a leader in the cosmetology industry. Again, our sincere appreciation goes out to you for all of your hard work.
Kevin L. Miller
Ohio State Board of Cosmetology