In a hybrid event, Twinsburg Mayor Ted Yates addressed in-person attendees and virtual viewers about the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, how a difficult 2020 also came with positives and how the community plans to approach 2021 in Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City address on April 22.
The event is usually held in February, but Yates told the crowd gathered at Aaron & Moses Restaurant in Twinsburg that he wanted to address the community in an in-person capacity following a year full of canceled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Rock the Park, the Memorial Day parade, youth sports, summer camps, Truck or Treat and Twins Days. The city’s playgrounds and senior centers were closed.
“I usually start my state of the city with something comical or something interesting that happened in the life of a mayor; I usually get really interesting emails, different things that happen, but unfortunately, 2020 didn’t create any real crazy or funny situations,” he said. “We lived in a world for a period of time like everyone else did. ... It’s been a really challenging year.”
During 2020, Twinsburg, like many cities across the country, found itself facing staff reductions, budget cuts and general downsizing to combat the shrinking economies as people ventured out into their communities less and less. Yates said the hardest of that process was telling 46 city staff members they were out of a job, which was 20% of its full-time staff. He added most of them have been added back to the roster, but some positions were eliminated.
The city also received funds from the federal government to help cover COVID-related expenses, and that the city could receive funds from the American Rescue Plan Act but are unsure how much right now.
But, it wasn’t all bad, Yates said. 2020 also came with city growth, with the addition of new businesses, including Safran, Pepperl + Fuchs, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Saffron, and New Adventures Early Learning and Child Development Center, as well as the purchase of a new $800,000 fire truck and seven new hybrid Ford Explorers for the police department. The city is also now 90% occupied.
As for 2021, Yates said the community has a few things to be excited about – like the return of beloved Twinsburg events and programs like the Twinsburg Youth Summer Camp, the Twinsburg Parks & Recreation Safety Town, and the Twinsburg Waterpark. Several concerts have already been announced, including Rock the Park, all at limited capacity.
In closing, Yates encouraged community members to keep open lines of communication with community leaders.
“There is so much false information that is being spread throughout this community about a lot of different subjects so I just encourage the residents to take the time to spend some time with me or (their councilperson) and get the correct answers,” he said.