by Dan Holland
Broadview Heights city council members passed an ordinance to redistrict and redivide the city’s four wards. The action is required at the local level following certification of the U.S. census, which takes place every ten years, to balance out the population of the wards within specified parameters.
City Council President Robert Boldt undertook the process this year. The new designations will be in effect for the November 2023 elections.
“We just got the final [census] numbers in 2022,” Boldt explained. “So, just like the state of Ohio had to redistrict, we have to redistrict as well. We had to do it prior to the next election that is coming up. We send it down to the election board; they certify it, and then we move on it. So, all the new wards will be formed.”
According to Boldt, the biggest population changes in the city occurred in Wards 1 and 4 due to the construction of new housing developments. The state targets a 5% or less population differential between wards.
“We used the census, plus there are a few neighborhoods that went in on Town Center Drive and Harris Road, which we also used,” he said. “That’s why Ward 1 will have the lowest population number; we did that on purpose knowing that they have added houses there. Compared to the census, we’re at about 7% [in Ward 1], compared with the new houses going up in those two locations, which will bring it down to about 5%. If new houses also go in at Boston and Broadview roads, we’ll be under 5%. In recent years, almost all of the new development has been in Ward 1.”
One focus of the new divisions included an effort not to “split” streets between different wards.
“I tried using backyards to divide up the wards so that your neighbor across the street and you will be in the same ward,” explains Boldt. “I wasn’t able to do that across the board, but there are a few areas where streets that were previously split are no longer split. It’s not perfect, but we’re getting there.”
“Royalwood Road, for instance, is now all in Ward 3,” he continues. “Before, half was in Ward 3 and half in Ward 4. That can become a challenge in itself. If I tried to have it where none of the streets were split, that would have become an impossible task.”
In addition to having fewer split streets, Boldt also strived to maintain the wards within the city’s four designated quadrants: northeast, northwest, southwest and southeast. The goal, ultimately, would be for Broadview Road to serve as a division line through the entire city, he added. Under the new divisions, Ward 2 continues to extend west of Broadview Road.
“Ward 2 is one of the hardest wards for this process, because it has the most land, but the population is the lowest,” Boldt explained. “So, into the future, after the next census, I think there will be more properties filled in there. So, that ward will diminish in area but retain the same number of people. I tried to push it off the northwestern corner of the city back over toward Broadview Road.”
According to Boldt, approximately 11,000 city residents live west of Broadview Road, while 9,000 live to the east.
“As the population grows in Wards 1 and 2, that means Ward 3 will push toward the north and Ward 2 will recess to the east of Broadview Road,” said Boldt. “With those wards having the most area, I think those could be the highest areas of new development.”
“I did around 15-20 different iterations, and [City Engineer] Gary Yelenosky helped me a lot with it,” he added. “It looks almost the same; I was just able to push the lines a bit.” ∞