1996 - 2001

The History Of First Suburbs 

​​FreshWater Cleveland Series

​By definition, a First Suburb is a community that was built or mostly built, near or in many cases
adjacent to central cities, before 1960. In Northeast Ohio, suburban development began around 1900
and progressed slowly until halted by the Great Depression and World War II.



25th Anniversary Celebration!


2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium and to celebrate this milestone, join us as we look back at highlights of the last 25 years including successes, reflections from members and how the events of the region shaped the First Suburbs Consortium and its focus. Our first story will spotlight 1996-2001 with a special message from First Suburbs founder and former Cleveland Heights vice-mayor and councilman Ken Montlack. If you remember our early years and would like to add to this story, let us know. We would love to hear from you!

​​​​     ​                                       Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium



LOOKING BACK..... a message from First Suburbs Founder Ken Montlack


Serving on Cleveland Heights City Council in the late 80s and the 90s, it occurred to me that no matter how hard inner ring cities’ officials and staff worked on critical issues, our cities seemed to be falling behind. It also occurred to me that government policies at federal, state, and sometimes even the county levels, promoted disinvestment in, and outmigration from, the urban core.


Fortunately, several other elected officials in Cuyahoga County’s older built-out suburbs also identified with these challenges. We also recognized that by working together the first suburbs could improve governance and gain seats at the political/economic table alongside financially advantaged exurban areas and the more politically unified central City.


With enthusiastic support from our member-cities, the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium was formed as a Council of Government and then pursued “Inside Game/Outside Game” efforts. The “Inside Game” emphasized information-sharing dialogue and best practices actions. The “Outside Game”, giving the First Suburbs some advocacy muscle more consistent with our combined populations and other assets. You’ll hear more about how these “games” played out as the history of First Suburbs is explored more in future editions.


Now, the torch has passed to a new generation of First Suburbs’ elected officials and staff, and - - just like their predecessors - - they get it.


Ken Montlack

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FreshWater Cleveland's series First Suburbs: A Closer Look, focuses on the Northeast Ohio First Suburb Consortium communities surrounding Cleveland. This series will highlight various First Suburbs member communities focusing on unheralded people and innovative programs that are making a difference, through FreshWater Cleveland’s solutions-based journalism lens.  

Enjoy short interviews with First Suburbs founder Ken Montlack and former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis reflecting on 1996-2001.

The mission of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium is to initiate and support policies and
practices that protect, maintain and redevelopment mature communities and foster regional
cooperation and collaboration. 


Full membership meetings are held quarterly.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our full membership meetings will be held virtually as approved by Ohio Governor Dewine.  Contact Jennifer Kuzma for details at jkuzma@bedfordoh.gov.  

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Our Mission


Meetings