Common values between the Lakewood of today and the Lakewood of 1954 (the city’s founding year) was a theme running through Mayor Steve Croft’s State of the City Address, given today at a luncheon attended by over 200 residents and civic leaders at The Centre at Sycamore Plaza. Croft was joined by Captain Merrill Ladenheim, commander of the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station, who provided an update on public safety initiatives.
Croft ran through a short history of Lakewood, including the original 1954 residents’ top priority concern for having parks and recreational opportunities for the tens of thousands of children in the new community; having a safe and secure city; having a healthy business community with shopping opportunities and an economic base for the city; and having local quality control on service to residents.
Those concerns, said Croft, still top the list of what today’s residents care about and what Lakewood city government focuses on delivering.
Croft announced that in 2014, Lakewood city government would make improvements at three parks (Bolivar, Palms and the West San Gabriel River Parkway Nature Trail). For public safety, Lakewood would continue to make investments such as in the recent ASAP license plate camera system and support one of the largest Neighborhood Watch programs in the region.
The city will continue to encourage business growth, said Croft, with the prompt, professional turnaround of permitting and development requests. Construction permits in Lakewood increased in 2013, a sign of continued economic recovery. Croft announced that in 2014, Forever 21 would invest $1.8 million to completely renovate their large, 84,000 square-foot store at Lakewood Center mall.
High-quality service to residents remains a top Lakewood value, Croft said. To help, in 2014 the city will re-design its webpage to provide more online forms for residents; a cleaner, more modern look; and a better search engine.
Croft concluded his remarks by saying that Lakewood has a special connection through time with America’s veterans. He noted that when Lakewood was built in the early 1950s, many of the first homebuyers were young World War II and Korean War veterans, attracted to the community because of its affordable homes, many of which came with no-down-payment VA loans.
“Those GIs and their families built a community here,” said Croft. “Appreciation for military veterans runs deep in Lakewood, just as the gifts from military veterans to Lakewood run deep, even today. When our city holds its 60th Anniversary Open House in March, I’m very pleased that one of the galleries of historic photos that we will display will be of Lakewood military personnel and veterans from across generations. That gallery is there to remind us of the sacrifices our military personnel have made and of the tremendous debt and appreciation that we owe them.”
Croft announced that tickets were now on sale for the 60th Anniversary Open House, to be held on March 21. For details and to purchase tickets, go to www.lakewoodcity.org/60th or call Nanette Davis at city hall at 562-866-9771, extension 3123.
State of the City television coverage
Lakewood’s State of the City is once again brought to life in an entertaining and informative way by the city’s award-winning CityTV team. Coverage includes the remarks by Mayor Steve Croft and Lakewood Station’s Captain Merrill Ladenheim. It also features an “Annual Report” that employs some non-traditional storytelling to tell the story of the city’s accomplishments in 2013 and the challenges and opportunities coming in 2014.
The program uses a “photo-booth time machine” that weaves visions of Lakewood’s past in with a present-day look at the city’s economic and public safety climate. It reviews milestones in public works, facilities and parks. It also introduces Lakewood’s upcoming 60th Anniversary festivities.
Re-broadcasts of the annual report video and the addresses by Croft and Ladenheim will run on CityTV Channel 31 from February 9 to March 1 (on Sundays and Thursdays at 12:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.). CityTV can be seen on channel 31 on Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS and on the city’s website at www.lakewoodcity.org/citytv.