Beechwood, The Book
The Growth Continues
With an upbeat team at City Hall Mayor Gorden has several issues ahead of him. The construction of a new fire station for the north end of the city is a long awaited necessity. Currently, the department’s administrative staff is using the basement of the old church building. The firemen are cramped on the second floor of the current station and have no meeting rooms for training. The city has gone from operating as a volunteer fire department to being one of the busiest in the county. In 1958 the fire department responded to 77 total calls. In 1996 the department responded to 3055 calls. A study is currently underway to determine were a new station should be built.
One key issue will be the rezoning of land on Green Rd. between Ranch Rd. and the Green Road Synagogue. Three organizations have acquired the land and would like to build a religious campus. The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland wants to build a high school for girls. Young Israel of Beachwood and Chabad House of Cleveland each want to build a synagogue. A bathhouse, known as a Mikva, is also planned for the 12-acre site. This land is currently zoned for residential use and presently has four homes on it
At one time these three homes were well-maintained and respectable homes. In 1930 Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Barber built their home at 2463 Green Rd. Mr Barber was the architect of the eight-room Beechwood schoolhouse built on Fairmount Blvd. The Barbers had two children, Virginia and Marian. Marian remembers that there were over 100 apple trees on her property.
Photo taken approx. 1938 shows land on Green Rd. where a consortium of Jewish organizations would like to build a Judaic Campus.
A home one located (demolished in 1998) to the south at 2475 Green Rd. belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Roy Hartley. The Hartley family operated two greenhouses and a flower shop at this location until the mid 1970’s. This house had a fire in the late 1980’s and was torn down in 1996.
Paul and Helen Pfeiffer built their home at 2479 Green Rd. in 1939. They raised two children, Ford and James. Helen died in 1950. In 1953 Paul married Mrs. Barber, a widow, who lived two doors north of him. James remembers that when his parents were building their home there was an old dilapidated farmhouse in front of the house that they were building. Between the two structures was a hand pump for well water. After completing the new house his father had the old house torn down and then built a beautiful sitting area around the pump. In the rear of the farm was a round hay barn that his father had converted into a clubhouse for his boys. The religious group that now occupies this house is currently using that building. James also remembers attending the first grade in South Euclid at the Victory Schoolhouse on Mayfield Rd. and the second grade at Canterbury School in University Heights. He then attended Beachwood Schools in the third grade. He completed his studies at University School.
Mr. Pfeiffer converted this round hay barn into a clubhouse for his young sons in 1938. Today a religious group now occupies the home as a Synagogue or "Shul" and the clubhouse is used as a ritual bath.
The beautiful home Mr. and Mrs. Pfeiffer built in 1938 at 2479 Green Rd.
On March 27, 1997 the Zoning and Planning Commission met to cast their vote on rezoning the land. The room was packed with over 400 residents. After a lengthy presentation by the group’s attorney, Sheldon Berns, the commission listened to the recommendation of City Planner Mr Smerigan and unanimously voted against the rezoning. Smerigan’s recommendation was based on the fact that only 50% of Beachwood’s land is zoned residential. He felt that any further non-residential construction on the peripheral main streets of the city would start a devaluation process of the residential areas. Many of Beachwood’s residents are opposed to rezoning. After several months, Beachwood City Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of rezoning. Si Wachsberger was the only councilman not to vote for the rezoning.
While this multi-tenant Judaic campus is waiting to build on this site, other Jewish organizations are exploring building new facilities or adding on to their present building. The Cleveland Hebrew Schools on Fairmount Blvd. has done some preliminary studies to analyze the expansion of their complex. This well respected facility is running out of room and is landlocked. At the same time the Kehillay Yaakov-Warrensville Center Road Synagogue has purchased several homes on Richmond Rd. between Maidstone Ln. and Twickenham Dr. They have already sold their building on Warrensville Ctr. Rd. in South Euclid. While they have not come to the city with any plans yet they have made it clear that it’s their intention to build a new house of worship in Beachwood. One of the homes that they now own includes an old red barn that once belonged to the Wasckos in the 1930’s.
While the Green Rd. issue has kept the current Law Director, Margaret Cannon, busy the voters of Beachwood were given an opportunity to cast a vote as to whether or not the campus should be built in Mid 1998. Several of the opponents of the campus collected enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot. The outcome was a no vote. However the matter was not closed. The three religious organizations split their project up into three separate plans, and resubmitted them individually. Their ability to do this ultimately went to the City's Board of Zonings Appeals, which resolved the matter by saying that the three plans were not the same the original project and rezoned the land individually. This matter has been a major issue for the people of Beachwood and unfortunately has demonstrated the inability of the administration to process this matter without high cost of lawyer and community spirit.
While the Green Rd issue will keep current Law Director Margaret Cannon busy for years to come, there are many other tax-generating projects in the works for Beachwood. They are:
An additional project for Beachwood would be a new park and a recreation center. Councilman Fred Goodman has a vision for Beachwood’s future. Understanding the value of corporate development, Goodman, who chairs the Recreation Committee, also understands the need for more green space. If all goes well the land between the eastbound and westbound Shaker Blvd. roadways will become a park with walking trails and bike paths. An additional piece of land that the city would like to acquire for a mini-park would be the parcel on Richmond Rd. just west of the JCC. There is
an agreement between the city and the JCC that the city has the first right to buy this land and control its usage. Keep in mind that all this land is deed restricted for residential use. This agreement went by the wayside in late 1996 when the JCC offered it to The Montefiore Organization for a new concept in senior housing. When Montefiore approached the city relative to developing the land, they were surprised to find out that the JCC and the city had this agreement. Subsequently, Montefiore found a location on Richmond Rd just north of Cedar Rd. in Lyndhurst to locate their facility.
The Bottom Line - Going by the Numbers
While graphs and charts tell part of the story, here are a few facts one must consider when looking at how an edge city such as Beachwood developed into a financial haven for landowners. In 1944 there were 450 people living in the City of Beachwood. By 1948 that number had grown to 800. By the 1960 census that number had grown to over 5000 people allowing the community to move from being a village to a city. In 1997 Beachwood’s residential population is now 12,000 with approximately 70,000 additional people working and shopping in the city during the day. Of the 12,000 residents close to 45% are senior citizens.
History of Income (Receipts) to the City of Beachwood excludes any special state road or infrastructure funds
As of the end of 1996 Beachwood had a cash balance in the bank of $31,842,203. This is excess cash that was created because expenses did not exceed income. For a corporation this is called profits. For a municipality these dollars are surplus or extra cash which could be used for special projects, such as rebuilding the roads in Commerce Park or building a new fire station. This excess cash started in 1982 with $1,486,000. While the excess cash should be put into a special capital improvement fund, this is not necessarily done every year; therefore, the city’s balance sheet shows excess money in its general fund until it is moved. Some municipalities do not have this luxury and are forced to sell bonds to raise funds and this is one of the reasons Beachwood’s taxes are so low.
The major portion of the city income is generated from the income tax of those people working in the city. That is the reason why Beachwood’s government is so pro-active in keeping the office parks filled with happy tenants. The majority of the property tax collected goes to Beachwood’s Schools. That is why it is important to both the city and to the schools that the value of the business community’s property and the residential property remain as high as possible. Today’s rate for tax funds due the school system is $67.80 on each thousand dollars of tax valuation. That is one of the lowest in the county. However, our schools spend more dollars per student than any other school system in the state. This is due to the high values of property in Beachwood. According to their 1996 Annual Report Beachwood Schools has $16,175,106.00 to spend from taxes generated for their 1485 students. Shaker’s rate is $139.00; University Heights’ is $111.00. An interesting contrast would be Cleveland’s at $61.00. A good example of residential property values is Timberlane Rd. In 1950 a lot sold for $500.00. In 1994 that same lot was sold for $60,000.00 and that price did not include the cost of the road or sewer improvements.
Expenditures (What is spent to run the City)
Why Beachwood is "the place to be".
While Beachwood’s demand for new homes continues the community has seen an increasing amount of rehabilitation and "blow ups" of older ranch style homes. As some of the homes in this area go on the market, they are being bought, gutted and "blown up" into overly large homes. When this process was first started about 6-7 years ago, there was little regard to the abnormality of the homes’ architectural appearance. However, the Architectural Review Board that reviews all building permits has raised issue with some plans that are beyond a respectable appearance relative to the houses ability to blend into the rest of the neighborhood
One of the most desirable parts of Beachwood, because it provides just about every aspect of a "neighborhood" that one could want, is the north side. It has that special feeling that many baby boomers grew up with. It is about the closest area you will find that resembles the neighborhood that Wally and Beaver grew up in. Probably the best example of this is East Groveland Rd. Where else could one find over 20 children playing in groups every day during the spring, summer and fall? It is not uncommon to see Mort Goldman pitching balls to ten or fifteen children or Sari Leimsieder teaching the younger children how to play duck-duck-goose. Neighborhoods such as this one provide a great place for children to grow and make lifelong friendships. This could be one of the reasons why so many of Beachwood’s alumni return to raise their families. According to Donna Cohen, founding President of the Beachwood Alumni Association and a second generation Beachwood resident, Beachwood has a higher than normal return rate for second generation and now third generation Beachwood children. Another example of this is the Mintz Family. Both Mark and Nancy Mintz grew up in Beachwood and chose to return to Beachwood to raise their three children. Mark and Nancy are both very active members of the community. Mark is currently a member of the City Council.
At the south end of Beachwood, streets such as Bryden Rd without sidewalk provide the flavor of being out in the country. For those looking to build a new 5000 sq. ft. home or larger, newer streets like Woodside Rd. and Willow Ln. provide the last few lots left in this great community.
Resource list of Community Programs
Beachwood Drama and Recreation
As Beachwood’s popularity as a community of choice has grown, so has its Recreation Department’s offerings. When the City Hall was first built, the Recreation Department was located where the Building Department is now. Because of the need for more space the part-time staff was moved to the basement of the Church across the parking lot. This antiquated yet quaint space would be their home until 1987 when they relocated to the new Community Center. Several years earlier, in 1982, Beth Rosenblum was appointed Recreation Director replacing Jim Cowan. Rosenblum had just a few months earlier been hired as the Director of the Pool.
In the early 1980’s under Rosenblum’s direction from then Mayor Friedman, the "Rec" Department took on a variety of new programs, including those designed especially for the growing senior population. By 1986 it was realized that a second full-time administrator was needed and Pete Conces was hired. Today Conces takes care of all of the youth activities while Rosenblum directs the ever-expanding senior programs.
One of Beachwood’s premier recreation activities was created with the re-development of the drama program. Drama had been a part of Beachwood’s schools since the 1930’s. Under the direction of the Recreation Department and with the co-operation of the school system (use of the stage) the Recreation Department set out to develop one of the finest programs in northeastern Ohio. First known as the "Spotlight Youth Theater," this program allowed students to attend after school drama classes and be involved in the production of several performances annually.
(L to R) Top Row: Sara Krivanka, Melissa Currivan, Lower Row: Meredith Solomon, Talia Sukol, Tammy Scholl, Raleigh Lipsky, Dara Sobisch. performing in The Beachwood Community Youth Theater production of Peter Pan. Dec., 1996
Under the direction of Jill Koslen since 1983, the drama program was renamed the "Beachwood Community Theater", which allows those not living in Beachwood to participate. In 1991 adults were added. This inter-generational program allows younger drama students the opportunity to learn from more experienced
amateurs. It also allows several members of one family to participate in the same activity. These productions might consist of amateur and novice actors; however, the productions under Jill’s direction are equal to the best of those performed on Off-Broadway. One of the group’s most recent pieces of work was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat production. Because of the program’s popularity and their ownership of the stage, along with an interest in the arts by the current School Superintendent Dr. Paul Williams, several aspects of the drama program were moved to the school system in the summer of 1997.
While drama may be one of Beachwood’s finest programs, baseball has to be one of the most popular with over 500 participants every summer. In the summer months games are played four nights a week at Bryden, Fairmount, and Hilltop Schools’ fields. In 1989 the Beachwood League was named in memory of Leo Weiss. While Leo was a Beachwood Councilman he was heavily involved in baseball in much the same way as Manny Baden. While not under the direction of the City’s Recreation Department, Beachwood also has an adult baseball program that has been in existence for many years and continues to grow.
While baseball continues to be a leading program, soccer has become one of the fastest growing sports, especially for younger children. Under the direction of Assistant Recreation Director Peter Conces three divisions for this co-ed sport have evolved, from kindergarten to sixth grade. Soccer has become so popular that one can find several games going on at the same time at both the Manny Baden Field at Fairmount School and the Middle School Field on a typical Sunday afternoon.
While many other activities have been added, the Beachwood pool is still the place to be on a hot summer's day. One of the "Rec." Department's many programs includes swimming lessons for all ages. Lifeguards Ari Weil and Elizabeth Sheridan(1995) spend time having fun with a group of children in preparation for canoe races.
You can contact the Beachwood Recreation Department at 216-292-1970. The drama program currently falls under the Board of Education. Their number is 216-464-2600.
The Arts Council
This organization started in 1968 as a fundraising arm of the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA). For many years the PTA held an annual art show in the high school gym. Si Wachsberger, a longtime activist and current Councilman, remembers the three-day event as a community effort. Parents worked hard planning the event and evaluating the artists, while students set up the displays and climbed up the ladder to hang banners and lights. Friday night included a Black tie event and Saturday night included a jazz band.
Members of the Arts Council L to R, Mrs. Harvey Friedman, Mrs. Albert Gordon, Mrs. Jack Kleinman and Mrs. Isaac Hart reviewing artwork just prior to the opening of an event.
Each year the Arts Council would donate a work of art to the school system. In 1973 the group made a special donation of $2000 for a landscaping architect to develop a plan for the high school and an additional $1000 for plants and shrubs. Keep in mind that in the 1970’s money was still very tight for the schools and they needed all the dollars they could get just to develop the young system.
In 1979 the Arts Council was looking for a permanent home to display art and provide the community four to six traveling exhibits a year. Mayor Zeiger had offered the Arts Council the use of the recently vacated Village Hall at Fairmount Blvd. and Richmond Rd. for one dollar a year if they wanted it and would be able to maintain it. With that opportunity, Shirley and Si Wachsberger traveled to Columbus, Ohio and convinced the Ohio Arts Council to help fund the remodeling of Beachwood’s old and original Village Hall as the permanent home for the Arts Council. The group raised over $40,000 to renovate the building. Over the years the Arts Council has continued to display a variety of traveling exhibits and provides art shows for students not only
from Beachwood but also from surrounding communities. In 1992, the group assisted the city with funding for the outdoor sculpture that fronts Richmond Rd known as "Family Suite." Steven Cannetto, who is located in Columbus, Ohio, crafted this seven-foot stainless steel sculpture.
You can contact the Arts Council through the Beachwood City Hall. Their address is 2700 Richmond Rd., Beachwood, Ohio, 44122. Their phone number is 216-464-1070.
The Beachwood Boosters
One of the oldest civic organizations in Beachwood is the Beachwood Boosters. This group was started in 1958 by parents of high school students. Their goal was to raise money for football uniforms, sports equipment and band equipment. With the construction of a new high school, funds were needed for all of these auxiliary programs. The group’s first president was Les Cowan. This group continues to be a strong fundraiser for the high school. Now however, the Boosters raise money for every sport at the high school. Boosters foster and promote community and school interest, spirit, and friendship among Beachwood residents.
You can contact the group through the Board of Education at 216-464-2600.
The Beachwood High School Alumni Association
One of Beachwood’s newest organizations is the Beachwood Alumni Association. It was founded in 1993. Its charter president was Donna Cohen, who graduated from Beachwood in 1966. The Beachwood Alumni Association exists to support and foster communication among and between alumni and the Beachwood City Schools. To that end, the organization promotes a network of alumni for the purpose of identifying and responding to the needs of alumni and present students. Many activities are planned throughout the year to bring alumni together, such as alumni basketball night, alumni pool day and, of course, class reunions. The Alumni Association provides scholarships to high school seniors and is compiling an archive of yearbooks and other momentoes. Brick "pavers" are being placed in the ground near the south gym to form a plaza to commemorate students and friends of the Beachwood schools. This is an ongoing fundraising project being shared with Community PTA and the Boosters.
You can contact the group through the Board of Education at 216-464-2600.
The Beachwood Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber was formed in July of 1991 by a group of spirited business people and Mayor Harvey Friedman. The first President of the group was one of those spirited Beachwood businessmen and Manager of Beachwood Place Mall, Paul Schiffer. Seed money totaling $55,000.00 was raised within the business community to get the Chamber started. One of the lead architects in its early development was Beachwood’s Law Director Louis Orkin. The group took off quickly under the leadership of Schiffer and Ron White, its first and current Executive Director. The Chamber’s current programs include sponsoring networking events such as luncheons, breakfasts and an annual meeting. The group also provides fundraisers such as an annual Arts Show, a Golf Outing and Business Show. The Chamber provides its 400 plus members with a variety of opportunities to save on health care costs and Worker’s Compensation.
The chamber is located at 24500 Chagrin Blvd., Beachwood, Ohio, 44122. You can contact the Chamber at 216-831-0003.
Friends of the Beachwood Library
This group was formed to help raise the dollars necessary to support a variety of auxiliary projects for the library. After many years of discussion with the Cuyahoga County Library System, the School Board and the Library Board entered into an agreement that allowed for the creation of the Beachwood Library. In June of 1979 the voters passed a $2.4 million 22-year bond issue. This allowed the architectural firm of Dalton, Van Dijk, Johnson & Partners to design the building and make this long awaited project happen. Prior to Beachwood having its own library, one would have to travel to Shaker Heights, South Euclid or Orange to find a book. For several years the High School Library was open in the evening for their students’ use. With the help of the "Friends of" group, several key pieces of art have been placed in the library including the David E. Davis "Bridge of Knowledge" hich is a row of five eighteen foot high stainless steel tetrahedra that span 60 feet across the front of the building. In 1987 with the help of the "Friends of" group the library added a special archive collection on the Holocaust. This collection is permanently housed at the library and includes artifacts and books. In late 1996, the library announced plans to renovate the building and it was completed in the spring of 1999.
You can contact the group through the library. Their address is 25501 Shaker Blvd., Beachwood, Ohio, 44122. Their phone number is 216-831-6868.
The Beachwood 100
Beachwood also has The Beachwood 100. It was started in 1968 by its trustees that included: Larry Small, Dr. Seymour Ullman, Irv Berger, Nancy Small, Larry Cohen, Leon Miller, Sol Ronder, Don Kravitz and Emory Kritzler. This organization raises its funds solely from membership dues, which are designated to assist Beachwood Policemen and Firemen with an outright grant or loan to help them through medical or catastrophic emergencies. The Beachwood 100 has also donated funds for the Police Department’s workout room located within the department. On September 6, 1990 the group was honored by being mentioned in the Congressional Record by Congressman Edward F. Feighan.
You can contact the Beachwood 100 through the Beachwood City Hall. Their address is 2700 Richmond Rd., Beachwood, Ohio, 44122. Their phone number is 216-464-1070.