July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Medina County fastest-growing in Cleveland metro area

Since the start of the decade, Medina County grew faster in population than the other four counties — Cuyahoga, Lorain, Geauga and Lake — in the Cleveland metro area, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.

The new report, released Thursday, estimated 174,0915 people lived in Medina County as of July 1, 2013 — 2,583 more than counted in the April 1, 2010, census.

Medina’s 1.5 percent growth rate was more than double the 0.6 percent-growth rate of Geauga County, the next fastest growing county in the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Lorain County was next, posting a 0.5 percent increase.

Cuyhoga County saw its population slide over the three years to 1,263,154 — a decline of 16,955 or 1.3 percent.

Lake County’s population decreased by 181 — a negligible 0.1 percent.

Medina County also grew faster than three other neighboring counties.

Wayne County grew by about 0.5 percent while Summit County’s increase was a statistically negligible 0.01 percent — essentially unchanged.

Ashland County declined by 0.3 percent.

Robert Henwood, director of the Medina County Department of Planning Services, was surprised Medina grew so much faster than other counties in the Cleveland metro area.

“For Medina to be growing at that rate is astonishing,” he said.

Medina County’s 1.5 percent-growth rate ranked ninth among Ohio’s 88 counties.

But the county grew much faster in the previous two decades.

From 2000 and 2010, the county’s population increased by more than 14 percent — ranking it the sixth fastest-growing county in the state.

From 1990 to 2000, Medina County’s population jumped by 23.5 percent.

That compares with a projected increase this decade of only about 5 percent, if the growth rate of the past two years continues until 2020.

The new report found slower growth and shrinking populations across Ohio. Nearly three-quarters of the state’s counties posted population declines.

The greatest growth was in central Ohio.

Delaware County, bordering Columbus’ Franklin County, ranked first in population growth with a 6.2 percent increase since 2010.

Franklin County ranked second, growing by 4.2 percent, or nearly 50,000 residents.

Two other of Franklin’s neighboring counties — Union and Fairfield — also ranked among the top seven fastest-growing.

Jefferson County shrank the most, losing about 2.5 percent of its population.

Henwood cautioned that Medina County’s continued growth requires an investment in infrastructure — roads, sewers and water lines — that will have to be maintained.

“We need to be cognizant of the long-term legacy costs of growth,” he said. “We need to ensure there are adequate sources of funding to maintain all this.”

Henwood pointed out that many older communities in Cuyahoga County “are seeing a decline in population, shrinking revenue and exorbitant infrastructure replacement costs.

“We should look to those inner-ring suburbs and learn from their mistakes.”

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.