FAIRLAWN: City officials say President Barack Obama’s visit to Fairlawn last week went smoothly, but it was a costly honor.
“We’ve never had a sitting president spend the night before,” said Mayor Bill Roth. “They have only passed through.”
The mayor said this visit required special security at the Hilton on West Market Street.
There were additional police, 18 members of the Metro SWAT team, which includes officers from various surrounding communities as well as the highway patrol and Summit County Sheriff’s Office, positioned around the hotel. Roth said an EMS unit was also kept on site during the entire visit.
“That’s pretty normal for a high-ranking official,” Roth said. “It might get a little crazy between now and November since Ohio is a swing state.”
Service Department workers set up 4,800 feet of so-called snow fence and West Market Street was blocked off from 3200 West Market to Ghent Road.
“I read where they have two military units parked in front of the White House with a police cruiser in between, so we tried to replicate that barricade, but we used dump trucks with the cruiser,” said Deputy Service Director Ernie Staten. “We also serviced the presidential tour bus. We washed it and flushed it out, then parked it back at the Hilton’s parking lot.”
Staten said he had no idea yet of the cost of the visit. He knows workers racked up 30 hours on overtime.
Roth, a Republican, said he wants to keep a close eye on the final cost so the city can anticipate future visits this election season.
“There may be a lot of candidates coming through, so we are going to start tracking the costs and send a bill to each candidate, I don’t care what party they are from,” Roth said. “We may never be reimbursed, but we’re going to try.”
According to Fairlawn officials, other presidents who have visited the city in the past included Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.