Richmond Heights is looking to expand into health and wellness

Seniors enjoy lunch at the Richmond Heights Community Center. (Frank Mecham – The News-Herald.)

Richmond Heights is expanding in 2023.

The old Richmond Heights Town Square Mall was demolished to make way for Belle Oaks Marketplace construction, which begins in the new year. In addition, Flexjet completed its new world headquarters and operations center at Cuyahoga County Airport, located on the outskirts of Richmond Heights, earlier this year.

These are all signs of what Richmond Heights Mayor Kim Thomas says is the culmination of an attempt to revitalize the city into a vibrant community.

“When we look at Belle Oaks, we’ve already started demodulating the old mall and preparing the site for the first phase of the constitution,” Thomas said. “Construction is on the long-awaited Meijer store, and this project is the first step in revitalizing Richmond Heights’ retail spaces.”

Selected Flexjets stand on the tarmac during the unveiling of the updated Flexjets headquarters. (Frank Mecham – The News-Herald.)
The schedule of private jets can be seen at Flexjets headquarters. (Frank Mecham – The News-Herald.)

Thomas says expanding Flexjet’s hub and adding more employees is helping the city, too. The new headquarters has increased the number of employees on site from 400 to over 600 and is expected to expand further.

“This for Richmond Heights means growth, revenue growth for us,” added Thomas.

In addition to private business, Thomas says that with the help of ARPA funds, Parks and Recreation aims to look at how the city’s parks will develop in the future.

“We were able to come together and put together a strategic plan for our parks,” she said. “Right now, our pool is in total disarray, so the consultant will come up with a strategic plan for not only our pool, but all three parks in Richmond Heights.”

As we enter the new year, the city will focus on trash, or rather the lack of it. Richmond Heights didn’t have a recycling program before, but starting in 2024, it will. Thomas said she had heard that new residents were surprised after moving to town to find that there was no recycling program in place, and she wanted to change that.

Recycling bins now hit residents’ doors every day. Waste Management is partnering with the city to distribute the new recycling bins and should be finished by the end of 2023.

Thomas says the launch of the long-awaited program is one step in trying to prevent trash from entering the landfill, and says programs like this will also help keep city streets clean.

“Richmond Heights a few years ago started the recycling program,” she said. “However, this was not successful. Now we have the opportunity to do it right by really educating our residents about the need and importance of recycling.

“The more we recycle, I always tell residents, the more waste we reduce by sending to landfill, conserves natural energy,” she added. “But I think for us, we wanted to make sure we got it right this time, and to get it right, we had to start this education campaign.”

“We started six months before our recycling program started, just to make sure residents were educated and to make sure there was no cross-contamination.”

Thomas says the recycling program is part of Richmond Heights’ focus on health and wellness. Thomas says the city will open a health and wellness center in 2024 to increase access to preventive care before emergencies.

Seniors enjoy lunch at the Richmond Heights Community Center. (Frank Mecham – The News-Herald.)

Thomas says these programs are always helpful and she wants to increase them, but part of the problem is funding.

“We’re a small suburban community of less than 11,000 people, so the other challenge is that we’re constantly looking for funding opportunities,” she said. “Most municipalities are, but we’re always looking for county, state, federal funding for resources to support our economic development initiatives.”

Thomas said that as the new year begins, he hopes Richmond Heights will find more ways to access that funding.

She also looks forward to working with new City Council members Asu Mook Robinson and Brian Silver. The two newcomers will replace longtime council members Frank Lentine, who was unseated in the November election, and Mark Alexander, who is not seeking re-election.

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