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Issue Date: June 2009

Rating the Suburbs - Willoughby Hills

Mel Schaefer, 82
former mayor
Look out my back window and you will see why I chose to move here. I love this piece of property; it’s open space and scenic beauty.

Willoughby Hills evolved from a city of orchards. I remember making a trip to Columbus when President Gerald Ford was there, and I took him a basket of apples because it was so characteristic of our community. That’s not the case anymore.

We have actually become more of a community now because we have a city center that draws people together. When one child in a family is playing baseball, another child goes to the library. It’s good if people cross paths in their own community.

Our city motto, which I coined, is: “Where the City Meets the Country.” You have the urban, western part of town, and then it becomes more rural to the east.

I’ll tell you a little story. When the Catholic Church moved here, the priest asked me where to locate the parsonage. I said that he should buy a place on SOM Center Road, because then he couldn’t be accused of favoring one half of the town over the other.

That’s one
of my problems: I wish we had a school, but because of our sparse population, I can’t even talk about it. It’s not going to happen.

Our city hall maintains an attitude of, “We are here for you.” You can get through and talk to people. You don’t get pigeonholed. The new mayor just instituted a program called WHISPER to help older people remain in their homes. The idea is that volunteers in the community help people make minor repairs and do whatever needs to be done so that people can remain in their homes longer.

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