From The Mayor's Desk

A collection of writings about small town democracy by Roy Reehil, Mayor of the Village of Cleveland, New York.

Memorial Day 1995

Memorial Day weekend has just past as of this writing, and though we had a drenching on Sunday, we were blessed with a beautiful morning on Monday to sneak in our Memorial Day parade and services. Thanks to everyone who participated and those who came out to watch, especially the dedicated members of the Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It is those special people to whom we dedicate the day. May we never forget their valor, nor the sacrifice of their friends and comrades who did not return with them from battle.

At the podium Monday it was easy for me to envision the same Memorial Day scene overlooking the lake one hundred years ago. In 1895 the incorporated village of Cleveland was thirty eight years old, the same age that I am now, and things were booming. There were glass factories, hotels, a great fishery, a logging industry, a tannery, lawyers, doctors, a general store, and the Erie canal. That year on Memorial Day they were remembering the sacrifices of Civil war veterans and fallen comrades on both sides. They were thankful for the peace that they enjoyed, and were working hard at many enterprises as they approached the 20th century. They were building a future for their families, here on the north shore of Oneida lake.

Now, we too are approaching a new century, and in these times of dazzling technology, cellular telephones and satellite dishes, what we share with our predecessors are the simple things: our beautiful lake and fishery, acres of state and private woodlands, our clean air and good water, and our wish to build a future for our families. But building a future is difficult. We share that with our grandfathers too. It was hard then, and it's hard now. Things were simpler, the laws, the technology, but it was still a struggle. Unfortunately, the turn of the century didn't bring good news for many residents of Cleveland. New technologies and modes of transportation put our glass works and tannery out of business. When industry left, so did its supporting cast of characters, the lawyers, doctors, servants and storekeepers. The turn of the century was a sad crossroads for Cleveland as its population left to work elsewhere.

We now stand at another crossroads in the history of Cleveland. At a junction where one arrow points towards dissolution of the village and another points towards cooperation and progress, or to put it another way, one sign says “give up” and one says “plan, work & grow”. As the regional population grows and tourists seek out our resources to enjoy—shouldn't it be US—the residents of Cleveland that determine what our shoreline looks like, what shops and business will be built and what parks and resources will be developed. This summer we'll see loads of traffic pass through Cleveland, but how much of it stops to spend a few dollars here? Our village incorporation gives us the right to decide together how we will grow. With proper planning and village participation, perhaps we can take advantage of a growing regional population and profit from it—while keeping all of the good things, and the relative peace and quiet that we enjoy now.

Don't you have an impression of what Cleveland should look like in three… five… or ten years? Right now, you have a chance to share that idea with the rest of the  village residents, and together we can make a plan for the future of Cleveland, and perhaps set a great example for the rest of the North Shore.

The start of the 20th century brought tough times for Cleveland. With your help and participation leading up to the 21st century, we can bring a new level of prosperity and quality to Cleveland.

Roy Reehil, Mayor of Cleveland, NY

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Last revised: February 01, 2012.