By Mayor Gary W. Starr — As a longtime resident of Middleburg Heights – and having served as its mayor since 1981 – I’ve had the pleasure of living and working in one of Northeast Ohio’s most livable suburbs. So I have a genuine appreciation of everything that suburban living has to offer.
From my perspective, to live in the suburbs is to enjoy the best of both worlds: the “openness” and relative quiet of a suburban setting, with the ability to easily visit the city and enjoy its many cultural offerings. And believe me, there’s no better place to unwind than in the tranquility of your own backyard after returning home from a day enjoying a city’s museums, sporting events, theatres or restaurants.
That’s not to say the ’burbs don’t have plenty to offer in those areas. You can find plenty of unique dining experiences, boutiques, galleries and entertainment in communities outside the city center. Plenty of free parking too.
For the everyday shopping chores and errands, you can’t beat the convenience of the suburbs. Nothing is more than five or ten minutes away: groceries, clothing, hardware stores, doctors, dentists. Most store hours accommodate folks who have to do their shopping after work
There may be fewer people per square mile in the suburbs, but there’s a great sense of community. I’ve observed that folks who buy suburban homes tend to stay there, establishing long-time bonds with their neighbors, and creating streets “where everybody knows everybody,” right down to the type of flowers they plant in their front yards, where their kids go to school, and if and where they go to church. In my experience, many of the people I know as neighbors share a similar work ethic and values.
That closeness is one reason why crime in suburbs is typically low too. Neighbors watch out for each other and are quick to act if they notice something amiss. Parents can be comfortable letting their kids play outside or go to a friend’s house without constant worry. Back yards tend to be large enough for kids to play without having to go to a park.
The openness of the suburbs allows for plenty of green space in yards and parks alike. And boy, does that green space come alive in the spring, followed by summertime lawnmower symphonies and the smell of fresh-cut grass. We may complain about having to rake the fall leaves that cover our yards, but it’s a small price to pay for all the space we enjoy. Come wintertime, our kids enjoy having that space for sledding, snow forts and snowmen too.
Children who grow up in the suburbs typically enjoy good quality schools and a safe learning environment. Parents of students are often active in PTA, boosters and other groups, working alongside other parents and neighbors while taking an active role in their kids’ education.
In the end, suburban life lets you live in a home in a neighborhood that’s relatively free of stressors and insecurities. More birdsongs, fewer sirens.
From my view, I am happy in the suburbs. I think Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” said it best: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.”