Elect Patrick J. Metzger To Ward 1 Lakewood City Council

One of the great things about Lakewood is that there are plenty of volunteer opportunities to jump into, get involved in the community mix and ways to try to make a positive impact on the way things happen in town. Another great thing is that there are so many people willing to be involved, give their time, be productive and try to accomplish good work. The will for Civic Involvement is simply one of Lakewood’s strongest suits. Much of what I’m tied to in Lakewood includes these same things – things that are satisfying to me personally and helpful to others. And so, I’d like to bring some focus to this spread of involvement by asking you elect me to the Lakewood City Council as a Ward 1 councilman.    

Some of this broad involvement comes in the form of having been a part of the Lakewood Soccer Association as a Trustee, coach and parent of players; other parts include having been involved in Boy Scouts of America especially with the Cubs in Lakewood; and – by some measures the most fulfilling roles, as an appointee to the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Lakewood Planning Commission (LPC). Along the way I was asked to give input to a Housing Advisory Committee as housing and foreclosures moved front and center in the community because of the financial turn in 2008.

Participation in City-led commissions provides for some very close one-on-one time with the public, and very tight involvement with fellow appointees brought together in some very long hours and drawn out consideration towards making the right decisions. Work on the CAC primarily involved hearing from block grant applicants who sought public monies to help improve homeless shelters, provide daycare services, and support services for people experiencing physical violence among the many needs that low- moderate income families experienced. The CAC then determined a formula to award dollars based on demonstrated need and an even allocation based on “greater needs.” This experience has reinforced with me the level of diverse and broad needs in the community. This is all the more reason why the City has to remain responsive and sensitive to individuals.     

The LPC generally hears requests from businesses and individuals seeking permission of the City and compliance with Zoning and Planning regulations when starting something new or making changes to their property. It is in this role that I am most glad to have had a voice in some of the more significant developments happening in Ward 1 such as McKinley Place, a $12 million dollar investment in 40 townhouses, or the many restaurants and establishments requesting outdoor dining approvals and even approvals from Lakewood Schools newest schools construction. It’s in this committee I’ve had front row seats to the rejuvenation of the City’s commercial complex the creativity of which is demonstrated by the sheer variety of businesses coming to town. I’ve learned a lot from my fellow Board Members and take great instruction from their collegiality. I have real, in-depth experience in what makes Lakewood tick, and know how we can maintain the forward motion that continuous reinvestment and churn brings to our community.

Professionally, I bring nearly 20 years of experience in community, economic and housing development to the table. Much of this experience is at the municipal level and all of it includes public involvement, working with elected officials and the tangle of bureaucracy to get work done. My education has come in the form of strong hands-on, personal experience, by earning a Master of Science, and following up with and ABD PhD in public administration and urban policy subject matter.

During the day I am the Director of a County Port Authority and work to help companies understand how bonds issuance and finance packages will better position them to bring productivity and jobs into the community while creating a framework to maintain their longevity. I know what the private sector wants in order to feel secure with the long term implications of putting down roots; likewise, I know the type of guarantees the public wants to make sure companies aren’t feeding at the public trough only to leave the community “high and dry.” A difficult balance to-be-sure.

Another part of my day is occupied as the Assistant Director of a County Land Bank where one of the tasks is to weed out and demolish blighted, vacant and abandoned housing. All told our program has identified and demolished upwards of 400 units dragging down the morale, value and safety of neighborhoods. Every blighted unit sucks the life and money out of the community and represents a very frustrating and intransigent problem for everyone. A somewhat broader role the land bank plays is to cull delinquent property tax payers with an aggressive approach to enforcement across-the-board. I’m proud to play a role on both levels and I think this type of work strengthens public will. I know the value that housing has to a City like Lakewood and I understand what it means to protect all of our investments from the degradation brought by poor housing stock.

The balance of the day is spent helping shuttle children to events, mow the lawn, maintain the house and try to spend time with my family - and of course run for City Council. On another note, I would like to say that all this business has a point by mentioning that my wife Melissa and I try to encourage our three grade-school children to be involved as well – either as students at Lakewood Catholic Academy, through commitments to sports in LSA, Lakewood Rec, Ballet at the Beck, band, either Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts or even making it to mass at St. Clement or St. James (depending on which part of the family is going at the time…). Our position is that it’s important to be involved, be active and maintain commitments. Civic involvement is after all one of those tides that lifts all boats.

There are some pressing things that deserve attention in Ward 1 especially concerning traffic control, efforts toward commercial development and crime in the neighborhoods. If you've seen kids playing in the yard, biked on or live next to crowded roads then you understand the need to curtail fast moving cars as one of Lakewood's key traffic issues. Of particular note is reducing traffic flow on the Clifton extension, slowing traffic through neighborhoods and addressing streetside parking - something addressed by recent parking plan updates. The west end of Lakewood needs to be brought more fully into the rejuvenation making its way westward. As this happens the western entry of town will attract a lot more business. As for crime, if you've ever had you car rummaged through in the middle of the night by thieves passing through your neighborhood then you understand how supporting the courts and safety forces goes a long way toward maintaining responsiveness and service.

If you'd like to speak some more about particular issues, or would like to get involved, please email me at patjmetzger @gmail.com.

Patrick Metzger

Patrick, his wife Melissa have lived in Lakewood since the late 90s; their three children have lived in Lakewood all their lives.

Read More on City Council
Volume 11, Issue 20, Posted 11:29 AM, 09.29.2015