Resiliency | The City of Lakewood, Ohio


Planning to meet the challenges of the future

Update December 12, 2019

On Thursday, December 5 the Planning Commission unanimously approved the 2019 Community Vision updates recommended by the Resiliency Task Force.  The Community Vision was edited with recommendations from the Task Force, from input from citizens attending public meetings, with results from the survey and after extensive review by Planning Commission members.  The final Community Vision document can be viewed here.

After imprinting the Task Force’s lessons learned onto the Community Vision, the Task Force was left with a body of program and policy recommendations that were too specific to be included in a Master Plan. These program and policy recommendations have been summarized in the Action Guide. They are intended to guide budgeting and policymaking once the Task Force has completed its formal work and will serve as a blueprint for the Planning Department and Planning Commission moving forward. The actions in the Action Guide can be led by public, private and non-profit community leaders, as well as led by Lakewood citizens and stakeholders.

On Monday, December 16th, City Council will be presented with a resolution to concur with the Planning Commission’s approval of the update.

We would like to thank the Task Force and community for all their hard work and input.

Update November 22, 2019

On Tuesday November 19th, the Resiliency Task Force met at City Hall to consider public input received over the last three months on their proposed revisions to the City’s Master Plan. The presentation materials from that meeting are available HERE.

Since September, the Task Force has held two Public Engagement sessions, released two online surveys, and conducted outreach at a variety of events. The total result is over 500 instances of citizen engagement with this planning effort.

On Thursday December 5th, the Task Force will present their recommended changes to the Master Plan to the Planning Commission and ask them to vote to adopt these changes.

The most recent draft of the Task Force’s recommendations can be found HERE. In a side-by-side format showing the changes between the current Vision Master Plan drafted in 2012 and the proposed version.

The Task Force would like to invite all residents, especially those who have been following their work, to come to the Planning Commission meeting at 7:00 PM on Thursday December 5th in the City Hall Auditorium to ask questions, provide comments or support this effort. If you are unable to attend, you can always submit written comments to Task Force staff liaison Comments will be provided to the Commissioners before the meeting and will become part of the City’s record for the project.


Update November 12, 2019

The Resiliency Task Force will present their recommendations for updating the City’s Community Vision Master Plan at the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday December 10th. You can view the Task Force’s current draft proposal here.

We welcome your comments and questions about these updates. Please direct them to the Task Force’s staff liaison Alex Harnocz at

On the evening of Tuesday, November 19th the Task Force will meet to refine these recommendations into a final draft. As always, Task Force meetings are open to the public. This work session will be held in the City Hall Auditorium from 6:30 to 8:30PM on Tuesday the 19th.

For a more comprehensive update on the Task Force’s work over the past two months, please view the Update to Planning Commission  given November 7th or the video recording of the meeting.


Update October 24, 2019

The Resiliency Task Force met on October 22nd in conjunction with the Human Services Department’s screening of the film Resilience: the Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. Sarah Hendrickson of the Trauma Recovery Center at MetroHealth hosted the film and discussion which centered on the downstream effects of childhood trauma and a public health approach to mitigating those effects. The Resiliency Task Force has studied the social determinants of health as part of their work, and so this was a natural partnership.

After the film and discussion, the Task Force conducted a live polling activity to capture public input about residents challenges, priorities, and concerns for the City. This input will help the Task Force to fine tune its recommendations to the Planning Commission for an update of Lakewood’s Master Plan, the Community Vision. Along with the live polling activity, the Task Force also posted their proposed changes to the Vision statements contained within the Master Plan. Citizens indicated their preference for either the current version of the Vision statement or the Task Force’s proposed language by dot voting. Comments and questions were collected from participants with sticky notes.

If you were not able to attend this meeting, you can give you own responses to the live poll questions HERE

The Resiliency Task Force’s next meeting will be Tuesday November 19th. The Task Force will be editing and refining their recommendations based on this polling and other outreach efforts in preparation for a presentation to the Planning Commission on Tuesday December 5th.

Update October 14, 2019

The Resiliency Task Force hosted a Public Engagement Workshop at the Women’s Club Pavilion in Lakewood Park on September 10th. Participants were given an update on the Task Force’s Work so far, participated in an interactive polling exercise, and then a World Café-style exploration of the Community Vision master plan topics.

Meeting participants visited tables staffed by Task Force members and topic experts to discuss the City’s current progress, proposed changes to the Vision, and the best indicators to track progress going forward.

The Meeting Summary can be found here.

Update August 22, 2019

The Resiliency Task Force met on Tuesday August 20th. The Task Force spent the first half of the meeting planning for the September 10th Public Meeting. The purpose of the Public Meeting is to gather additional public input to inform the Task Force’s proposed updates to the Community Vision Master Plan. This meeting will include a short presentation by the Task Force on their work so far, a guided discussion with subject matter experts, and a live polling activity.

The Task Force also discussed the results of their public engagement survey. The Survey gathered 287 responses both online and via paper distribution. A printable PDF version of all survey responses is available HERE.

Finally, the Task Force continued to discuss the changes that they will propose to the Community Vision to update the document and incorporate Resiliency into the City’s long-range planning and land use decisions.

Update July 15, 2019

How do you deal with shocks and stresses in your life? The Resiliency Task Force has posted an online survey to find out how living in Lakewood affects your well-being. This information will be used to inform the Task Force’s work of providing long-term planning guidance for the City. The survey contains five questions and is anonymous (unless you choose to join the Task Force’s contact list). Thank you for your time and input!

Update March 20, 2019

The Resiliency Task Force met on Tuesday March 19th. Topics for the month were Climate Protection and Economic Development.

Mike Foley, Director of Sustainability for Cuyahoga County made a short presentation on the County’s efforts to cut carbon emissions and plan for the health and infrastructure impacts of Climate Change.  One interesting development that Mike shared with the group was the County’s Climate Change Vulnerability Map, which analyzes census block groups for their sensitivity to the effects of Climate change based on a range of physical and social factors. That tool can be found at

City Staff provided a brief update on the City’s Economic Development efforts, especially related to commercial vacancies and the housing market as a driver of Lakewood’s economy.

The Task Force then set to work on the template documents for Economic Development and Climate Protection. When their comments have been combined and edited, those template documents will be posted in the sidebar under “Resources.”


Update June 26, 2018

The Resiliency Task Force met for its second monthly session on Tuesday, June 19th.

The meeting began with a short discussion regarding the finalization of a Purpose Statement that will guide the work of the Task Force. Building on last month’s conversations and email communication in the interim, the Task Force has made significant progress toward the formal adoption of a Purpose Statement. That said, some Task Force members voiced their concerns that the Purpose Statement needs to be more “evergreen” in nature, suggesting that language should be added clarifying that the purpose is to establish a process and a framework that future citizens, city staff and leaders of Lakewood will be able to use to address challenges that may be unforeseen or unexpected. More work will be dedicated to the Purpose Statement in the coming weeks in the hopes that a final version can be agreed upon at the July session.

The agenda then shifted to a continuation of the Task Force’s previous conversation on Energy. After a short period of small group discussions, the larger group reconvened to exchange ideas regarding Lakewood’s priorities on Energy as well as the potential challenges and/or obstacles that may hinder the city’s progress on this issue. The Task Force was supportive of a more reliable, more efficient and cleaner method of energy generation and distribution for the city moving forward. However, significant impediments to this goal exist, including the following:

  • Upfront costs for renewable infrastructure conversion at the city and residential level
  • Current lack of political and financial support from state and federal government
  • Potential public utility resistance

The Energy conversation concluded with a discussion on strategies that the City of Lakewood can pursue to continue to progress on this issue:

  • Public education on ways to increase energy efficiency at home
  • Collaboration with likeminded municipalities in the region to advocate for more clean energy
  • Study potential for microgrid technology in Lakewood

The meeting continued with a discussion on the theme of the evening: Connectivity. Viewing Connectivity through the objective categories related to both transportation (a complete and accessible street network for all modes and users) and to a digital network (a quality and accessible digital network), the Task Force repeated the small group exercise from earlier in the evening. The Task Force then gathered together to discuss the City’s priorities and potential challenges regarding Connectivity. The group agreed that Lakewood already has a strong culture of walking, bicycling, and using public transit, and that the goal should be to build upon this foundation in the years to come. The following challenges were then offered for discussion: 

  • RTA funding issues and service cuts
  • Current lack of political and financial support for transit from state and federal government
  • Cultural status quo bias toward driving alone

The Task Force then concluded this portion of the meeting by discussing the following strategies that the City can utilize to address Connectivity:

  • Additional bicycle infrastructure (protected if possible) to increase safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike
  • Continued exploration regarding the potential for Lakewood to bring back the circulator to increase use of transit for local trips
  • Establishing stronger transit connections to strategic locations (lakefront, W. 117 – Madison Rapid Station, grocery stores, etc.)

The digital network element of Connectivity (equal access to quality, secure and high-speed internet) was not addressed during this session’s conversation and will be added to a future agenda.

Next month’s meeting is set for July 17th from 6:30 to 8:30PM in the East Conference Room at City Hall and will focus on Health & Wellbeing. All Task Force Meetings are open to the public and a public workshop is being planned in the coming weeks.


Update May 18, 2018

The Resiliency Task Force met for its monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 15th. City staff began the meeting by welcoming the Task Force members to the first official Task Force working session.

After a brief recap of the April meeting and an outline of the evening’s agenda, the group spent the first portion of the meeting discussing the adoption of a Purpose Statement to guide the efforts of the Task Force moving forward. ReThink Advisors led this exercise by encouraging the Task Force to consider why this group was convened and why, more specifically, each member of the Task Force felt it was important to participate. Using the City’s definition of Resiliency as a starting point, Task Force members proceeded to offer various motivating factors that led them to volunteer for this effort. The reasons were diverse in nature and included quality of life for the citizens of Lakewood, leaving a better world for future generations, answering a call to get involved, being proactive in planning and development and many others. The Task Force will continue to work with City staff and ReThink Advisors to craft a comprehensive and meaningful Purpose Statement to be further discussed at the group’s June meeting.

The next agenda item focused on two potential meeting schedules that the Task Force would follow for the duration of its work – one in which quarterly public workshops were added in addition to the group’s regularly scheduled meetings and one in which these workshops were held instead of the regular Task Force meeting for that month. After a brief discussion, two points of view gained traction among many members. The first being that the quarterly public workshops were going to be very important events at which critical feedback would be collected. As such, sufficient time would be required to both process what occurs as well as to potentially alter the course of the Task Force henceforth. The second point of view was that it may be difficult to thoroughly cover each of the topics on the Task Force’s agenda in a compressed time frame. Given both of these factors, the consensus of the group seemed to favor adding the quarterly public workshop to the existing meeting schedule. This matter will be finalized by the time of the June meeting.

The meeting continued with two presentations centered on the theme of this session: Energy. Ali Ahmed, Founder of Green Strategies, LLC, gave an update on his research on the potential of microgrid technology in the City of Cleveland and how such a strategy would add resiliency to the operations of businesses, institutions and residences throughout the proposed district. City staff then presented on its plan to pursue an LED streetlight conversion. After a discussion of the benefits (reduced energy consumption and costs, enhanced public safety and perception of public safety) and the potential drawbacks including aesthetic concerns about the brightness of LED lighting and their effect on the character of the street at night.

The Task Force concluded the meeting with a brief exercise designed to identify priorities, desired effects and meaningful measurements that the City of Lakewood should maintain as it considers Energy moving forward. The output of this effort will act as a baseline from which the Task Force will operate as its work continues. Next month’s meeting is set for June 19th from 6:30 to 8:30PM in the East Conference Room at City Hall and will focus on Connectivity. All Task Force Meetings are open to the public and a public workshop is being planned for July.

Click here to view the entire presentation.

– Michael Fodor, Task Force Member

Update May 11, 2018

The Resiliency Task Force will meet on Tuesday, May 15th at 6:30 in the East Conference Room at City Hall. This month is Energy month and the group will spend time identifying ways to measure the City’s progress around the topic of energy. They will discuss projects and policies that the City could undertake to improve energy efficiency and resiliency.

Task Force member David Turner of First Energy will give an update on the City’s effort to convert street lights to LED. Ali Ahmed of Green Strategies will present to the group about his firm’s efforts to establish a microgrid system in Cleveland and how this technology may benefit Lakewood in the future.

Task Force meetings are open to the public, and we welcome citizens who are interested in these topics to join us.

Update April 23, 2018

The Resiliency Task Force met for a kickoff meeting on Tuesday, April 17th. The Task Force members were greeted by Mayor Summers, who impressed upon them the impact of past Task Forces including the Active Living Task Force and Tree Task Force. The mayor emphasized that those groups gathered with great passion and purpose and have made a lasting impact on the operations of the City. The members of the Resiliency Task Force bring that same level of passion and expertise to this long-range planning effort. The presentation slides from that meeting are available here.

City staff brought the Task Force members up to speed on how this effort began, and the purpose of the Task Force. As a group, the Task Force will be expected to develop meaningful measurements to track the City’s goals, to daylight and promote projects and policies that advance resiliency, and to bring the concerns and ideas of their neighbors to the table.

ReThink Advisors provided background information on their approach to systems-thinking. ReThink is a consulting firm specializing in planning and strategy. They have been trained in the EcoDistricts Protocol, which will help to organize the work of the Task Force. EcoDistricts is a planning and verification tool which measures the resiliency of districts or neighborhoods much like the LEED standard does for buildings. Although the City does not intend at this time to seek EcoDistricts certification, the approach has value on its own as one of the most comprehensive to long-range planning tools. It focuses on three imperatives: Equity, Resilience, and Climate Protection all of which are key to Lakewood’s future.

Finally, Task Force members convened in small groups to brainstorm potential projects and interventions that they would like to discuss over the coming months. Next month’s meeting was set for May 15th from 6:30 to 8:30PM in the East Conference Room at City Hall. Next month’s meeting will focus on Energy. All Task Force Meetings are open to the public. Additionally, broader public workshop is being planned for July.


Update March 20, 2018

At the City Council Meeting on Monday March 19th, City Council Members made their appointments to the Resiliency Task Force. These members will round out thirteen-member task force along with the Mayor’s appointments noted in a previous post. Short biographies of the Task Force members are posted below.

We thank these citizens for their willingness to serve Lakewood in this planning effort.  The Task Force’s first meeting will be in early April. A date and location is currently being finalized. Updates will be posted here.

Beverly Burtzlaff

Beverly Burtzlaff currently serves as an Air Quality Planner for NOACA, our region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization where she is responsible for the development of long-term air quality strategy and the Gohio commute-planning tool. Beverly has extensive experience in both local and federal government, having served as a legislative aide to several US Senators and Representatives. A former Board member of the Greater Cleveland RTA, Beverly will bring deep experience in local transportation issues as well. Councilman Litten (Ward 3) appointed Beverly to the Task Force.

Maya Camhi

Maya Camhi is a medical researcher at Athersys, where she formed a Green Initiatives Committee to advance sustainability initiatives within the company. A graduate of UC-Riverside and Case Western Reserve University’s Medical School, Maya brings a strong interest in energy aggregation, waste management, and food systems to the group. Councilman Rader (at large) appointed Maya to the Task Force.

Savannah Dugan

Savannah Dugan is a Project Manager at Vocon architects where she is focused on interior design. She is a LEED Accredited Professional with extensive design experience on corporate, government, and educational projects. Savannah is a life-long resident of Lakewood and graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art.  Savannah will bring her expertise in concept development, space planning, material specification, and marketing strategy to the Task Force. Councilwoman George (at large) appointed Savannah to the Task Force.

Kevin Hudson

Kevin Hudson is a Project Manager for the Levin Group, a commercial and residential developer based in Cleveland where he manages the development of both market-rate and affordable residential projects. He is well-versed in the need to coordinate with city planners, community development officers, elected officials, and social service agencies to meet community goals. A graduate of Cleveland State University, Kevin plans to bring his experience to the Task Force in order to keep Lakewood equitable, sustainable, and profitable. Councilman Anderson (Ward 1) appointed Kevin to the Task Force.

John Mitterholzer

John Mitterholzer is the Senior Program Officer of the George Gund Foundation where he manages a grant budget of over $2.8 million, primarily related to environmental projects. He is a long-time Lakewood resident and has previously served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. As a former Main Street director in Nashua, New Hampshire, John is familiar with the challenges faced by property owners and business operators in a medium-sized town. Councilman Bullock (at large) appointed John to the Task Force.

Isaac Robb

Isaac Robb serves as the Manager of Urban Projects with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy where he manages real estate transactions that promote green space in urban areas. Before joining WRLC, he worked in the urban planning field in Seattle and in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Isaac is a graduate of Cornell University’s Master of City & Regional Planning program and is an active volunteer with Lakewood Alive. Councilman O’Leary (Ward 2) appointed Isaac to the Task Force. 

Uriel Ybarra

Uriel Ybarra brings more than a decade of experience building relationships, serving communities, and leading on issues through his various roles in the public sector. Uriel was named a National Urban Fellow in 2017. He previously served in the government relations office at the Washington Education Association and as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Seattle.  He brings exceptional analytical and problem-solving skills and the ability to work effectively within legislative, executive, and stakeholder communities to the group. Councilman O’Malley (Ward 4) appointed Uriel to the Task Force.


Update February 26, 2018

On Tuesday, February 20th, a resolution was introduced to City Council to officially create the Resiliency Task Force. After some earlier discussion, Council elected to expand the size of the Task Force to thirteen members. Each Councilperson will make an individual appointment to the Task Force, and the Mayor received the authority to make six appointments.

To that end, Mayor Summers announced his six appointments to the Task Force at the same meeting. Those six appointments are:

Ali Ahmed

Mr. Ahmed is a regional expert in energy and sustainability. He is the founder of Green Strategies LLC, where he assists corporations and large organizations with their energy and infrastructure planning. As the former Global Energy Leader for Cisco Systems, his programs reduced energy consumption and costs across the company’s global footprint. He is currently leading a group studying microgrid technology in partnership with the City of Cleveland and Cleveland State University.

Michael Fodor

Mr. Fodor is a veteran of the financial industry, who returned to Northeast Ohio to pursue a second career in urban planning.  A graduate of DePual University’s Sustainable Urban Development program, Michael is an enthusiastic and engaged member of the planning community. He is particularly interested in the unique opportunity that cities have to be proactive in planning and development to ensure a more sustainable, resilient and equitable future.

Kate Anderson Foley

Ms. Anderson Foley served as the Director of Student Services for Lakewood City Schools from 2006-2011, where she was focused primarily on implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. Kate then served in high-level positions with the Chicago Public Schools and Illinois State Board of Education where she continued to advance special education and innovation in one of the nation’s largest school districts. Her experience in systems thinking and running large organizations is exceptional.

Nicholas LaPointe

Mr. LaPointe is the Director of Planning & Capital Development for the Port of Cleveland. He has extensive experience in the planning and construction of infrastructure projects. As a registered Professional Engineer, Nick is very experienced in the construction and design of large projects. At the Port, Nick is responsible for fitting infrastructure projects into the capital budget. This experience will be valuable as the Task Force evaluates proposals both on their impact and their return on investment.

David Turner

Mr. Turner serves as External Affairs Officer for First Energy. In this role, he assists communities and key stakeholders in understanding the role energy and energy related services plays in our local economy and provides tools for residents and customers to use that create value and increase quality of life in our region. David will provide the group with an important connection to a regional partner along with his expertise in infrastructure systems.

Nicholas Zingale 

Mr. Zingale is a professor in Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. Nick’s research is focused on public policy, organizational theory, and leadership. Nick is currently part of a collaborative effort between CSU and Case Western Reserve University which is focused on the Internet of things and its impact on cities. This team is currently preparing a grant application to the National Science Foundation to fund a pilot program to measure road conditions using ground penetrating radar mounted on city vehicles. In addition to his deep knowledge of public policy, Nick will provide the task force with insights from the academic community and the state of current research of resiliency topics.


Update December 7, 2017

On December 7th, the Planning Staff and the Mayor made a presentation to the Planning Commission to kickoff the resiliency initiative. An annotated version of that presentation can be found here and the video recording of the presentation can be found here.

Resiliency planning will build upon the foundation of the Community Vision to allow Lakewood to endure, adapt, and thrive in a future no matter what kinds of chronic stresses or acute shocks it experiences.

A Resiliency Task Force will be formed to continue the research and planning summarized in this presentation. This citizen-led panel will fill in gaps in existing City plans, find alignment between existing plans, collect public input, and develop strategies and priorities to make Lakewood the most resilient city in Ohio.

This presentation also introduced ReThink Advisors. ReThink is a group of consultants with deep experience in this field who will assist the Resiliency Task Force in their research and recommendations.

Applications will be taken for seats on the Task Force through the month of December (please see instructions in the sidebar). Evaluation of applications and appointments by City Council and the Mayor are anticipated in January.

What is Resiliency?

Resiliency is the ability of a system to absorb internal and external shocks – environmental, social and economic shocks. Purposeful planning with a focus on resiliency will address the local effects of climate change, globalization, population growth, overconsumption, housing insecurity, rising healthcare costs, and much more. See the photo stream at the bottom of this page for examples of how Lakewood and other communities are becoming more resilient.

Mayor Mike Summers stated “What we know now is that this thinking should be included in the city’s Community Vision. Adding this focus to the Vision will stretch our abilities to better anticipate how we can ensure Lakewood’s vibrancy for decades to come.”

The Community Vision master plan was crafted in 2012 with direct and focused engagement with the community. The City has leveraged the Vision with great success over the last 5 years. The City has begun to benchmark the Vision, along with the city’s other planning efforts against some national planning templates, and believe there are opportunities that can make the Vision even more effective. Specifically, the city has recognized opportunities for the community to think more strategically about the topic of resiliency.

Building the Task Force

The City is developing a diverse panel of citizens who are experts in their field to analyze and create a resiliency strategy. Topics considered under the umbrella of resiliency include: Energy, Food Systems, Smart Cities, Water, Waste, Smart Building, Inclusive Design and many others. To see a list of all identified topics and how they fit with existing Community Vision goals, click here. The ideal task force member will have training and professional experience in one of the considered topics, a demonstrated ability for big-picture systems thinking, and a vision for more purposeful urban design.

Task Force members will work with City staff and expert consultants to establish goals, tactics, programs, and priorities that will guide the City’s long-term planning. Ultimately, this group will deliver a report to Planning Commission and City Council that will become a part of the Community Vision.

Nine Task Force members will be appointed by City Council (5) and the Mayor (4). To apply for a seat on the Task Force, contact City Planner Alex Harnocz at Please submit a professional resume along with a brief cover letter describing your interest in resiliency planning and any training or professional experience that would enhance your contribution to the Task Force.

Resiliency Is…