By any measure, 2018 was a pretty good year for the city of Riverview.
New businesses opened their doors, new construction was completed and the recreation department’s expanded offerings – like the bigger, better Summerfest and the reimagined Christmas Tree Lighting, were met with enthusiasm by residents.
“Overall it was a good year,” said City Manager Doug Drysdale. “There were a lot of good things that happened.”
Among them, Drysdale said, was the completion of the redevelopment of the shopping area at the corner of Fort Street and Pennsylvania. That work took longer than some expected because some ground clean up was necessary, as well as extensive underground work. Starbucks is now open there and Drysdale said the developer has assured the city that he is negotiating with occupants for the remainder of the complex.
Elsewhere along Fort, small new business keep cropping up. Business like Serendipity Cakes, Phaze Nutrition and Sassy Eyes Eyewear. Drysdale said the Italian restaurant Tiramisu plans to finally open its doors soon.
Perhaps the most visible things the city did in 2018 were the improved items offered by the recreation department. In addition to the Summerfest improvements, the city also moved the Christmas Tree Lighting from city hall to Young Patriots Park.
Young Patriots Park – the city’s biggest and best-known park – itself underwent a transformation. The park got new playground equipment and became home to more programs such as Movies in the Park and Concerts on the Park.
Memorial Park on the city’s east side also got a little love as the former old wading pool was transformed into a state-of-the-art, ADA-approved splash pad. Drysdale said residents in that area expressed delight with the new water feature.
One of the improvements made by the recreation department can’t be seen, but its affects will be noticed this summer. After years of patching together the pumping station at the Riverview Highlands Golf Course and hoping for the best, last year it was replaced.
The improved pumping capacity will mean better, more even watering on the course this coming season. Drysdale said you could begin to see the change near the end of last summer, but with the new pumps going a for a full season, he said the improvements will be dramatic.
The course also got golf cart upgrades and all the bunkers are being rebuilt and new sand is being added.
While most of the news out of the city was good and positive, there were some darker moments. The city had a couple of instances of time card fraud and it cost them several fire and police department employees. It was not a shining moment for Riverview, but when the matter came to light, it was quickly dealt with.
There has also been some concern about the way the city runs its fire department. Currently the city has a full-time department staffed with part-timers. Drysdale said the city will be looking into the possibility of hiring some full time firefighters in the future. The city has already split the police chief and fire chief duties and hired Ron Lammers to head the fire department
The city is also keeping a close eye to see that residents are protected during the demolition and removal of the building, debris and material at the old McLouth Steel site.
And always on the city’s mind is the fate of the Land Preserve. There are no planned proposals in the immediate future, Drysdale said. But the city will have to deal with a proposed expansion at some point.
But that’s in the future. For now, 2018 worked out well and Drysdale and the city are looking forward to a bright 2019.