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Mayors visiting OKC talk about what their cities are doing

Staff Writer Bryan Painter talked to some of the mayors attending the 78th Annual Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. Here's what they had to say.

Oklahoman Published: June 13, 2010

Staff Writer Bryan Painter talked to some of the mayors attending the 78th Annual Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. Here's what they had to say.

Norwalk, Conn.

The old farm has a new purpose.

About 15 years ago, a mayor in Norwalk, Conn., purchased a 9-acre farm with three houses. The farm hadn't been in operation since the 1930s. Nothing happened for a while, but now the old place has new life, said Mayor Richard A. Moccia, who is going into his fifth year as mayor of the city of about 85,000 people.

A committee turned the old farm into a community garden.

They also sold two of the houses with the restriction that the new owners had to maintain their historic look.

"And we're using the funds from the sale of that house to restore the main farmhouse, which will become a caretaker's house and a community meeting room,” Moccia said. "So we have 300 garden plots that neighbors use now.”

Homeless people also use it to grow food.

Norwalk, which is about one hour from New York City, has three major corporations. So there are about 20,000 people commuting into New York City each day and about 20,000 who commute to Norwalk to work.

"I've been fortunate my city hasn't been hit as hard as some of the other cities in the Northeast,” he said.

But it has been hit. Two years ago the city had $14.5 million in lost revenues from taxes, fees and so on. Officials estimate the loss will be $6 million this year.

And although he may not discover a way to turn the city's economy around at this year's conference, Moccia is fairly certain he will come away with measures that can benefit Norwalk.

Las Cruces, N.M.

Some cities have a single identity.

Kenneth D. Miyagishima, mayor of Las Cruces, N.M., proudly claims three.

"We have a lot of retirees, we have three strong military bases in the vicinity of 50 miles and we have New Mexico State University,” he said. "So we're a college town, a retiree town and military town.”

The multiple identities can lead to multiple strengths. For example, Las Cruces is consistently ranked as one of the best cities in which to retire.

"Since we have so many retirees,” Miyagishima said, "we have a lot of good hospitals there. That actually attracts a lot of retirees. We have facilities in Las Cruces that even our largest city, Albuquerque, doesn't have.

"It's really beneficial. For a lot of people when they retire, health care is a big concern to them. So we try to cater to a lot of our doctors and our nurses.”

But the strong can always get stronger.

"One of the things that we could focus on better is recycling,” he said. "Unfortunately it's not mandatory.”

Westlake, Ohio

Dennis Clough, mayor of Westlake, Ohio for the last 25 years, is anxious for the new U.S. Census to come out.


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