North Canton has installed street signs for the newly named Aiden Way, an alley that connects Portage Street NW with Willaman Avenue NW.
NORTH CANTON Jessica Stroia has put her son's name on the map.
Earlier this month, North Canton installed street signs for the newly named Aiden Way, an alley that connects Portage Street NW with Willaman Avenue NW.
"If you live in Chicago, if you live in New York, even if you live in Columbus, there's absolutely no way you can go to your council and get a street named after your son or daughter," Stroia said. "But in a place like North Canton, where somehow everybody knows everybody, you have the ability to make it your hometown and define it as a place you can live forever."
Jessica and Matthew Stroia purchased their Portage Street NW last April. It quickly became clear that the family had a predicament.
Any time a delivery was made to their home, the driver would show up in the neighbor's driveway or park blocking traffic on the busy road.
The family parks behind the house, in a shared parking area accessible by the alley. Their back door is really their front door. But explaining that to visitors was difficult and the unmarked alley, which is accessible to five homes, was nearly impossible to see in bad weather, Jessica Stroia said.
"It was a huge safety issue," she said.
A lengthy refrigerator delivery was the last straw. The Stroias came up with an idea: Ask the city if the unmarked alley had a name and, if it didn't, ask to have it named after their 5-year-old son.
Stroia spoke at a North Canton City Council meeting in May and laid out her concerns.
Council responded with two pieces of legislation.
This was something we were able to fix and we did.
Mayor David J. Held
In October, council passed an ordinance amending the city's criteria for naming streets and alleys. It added a clause that allowed roads to be named or renamed if doing so would minimize confusion or improve the safety or efficiency of traffic flow.
"We're a service-friendly community. We want to make it as easy as possible for people who live, work and visit our city," said Mayor David J. Held.
North Canton is working to make the city easier to navigate and putting a greater emphasis on street signs and other identifiers, he added.
In this case, the Stroias alerted the city to a problem that officials didn't even know existed, Held said. "When she brought it it to our attention, this was something we were able to fix and we did."
A month later, council passed a second ordinance combining alley numbers 55 and 22 — which are not marked on city maps — under one name: Aiden Way.
Piece of history
"We wanted to name it Aiden Way because it's a piece of history. It's a piece of North Canton that our son will have," Stroia said.
The Stroias are lifelong North Canton residents who graduated from Hoover High.
It's a small town and you have the ability to do amazing things.
Aiden might decide to leave the city someday, she said. "But he has the ability to always have a place to come back that is his own. It's his little piece of history."
It was also a chance to give their son a unique gift, an experience that can't be taken away, Stroia said. "It's one of those cool moments in your life where you look back and say 'Wow, that really happened.'"
The sign has given Aiden some bragging rights with the neighborhood kids and he took the legal notice of the ordinance to class for show and tell. He's excited to look out the window and see his name, Stroia said.
The city installed the sign on St. Patrick's Day. The family planned to celebrate with a pizza delivery — so the driver could park on Aiden Way, instead of the neighbor's driveway — but they picked it up instead. Stroia didn't want to ask a delivery driver to brave the snow.
By naming the alley, City Council "made a 5-year-old's day, if not a lifetime," Stroia said.
After that first meeting, Stroia has become engaged in city government. She was voted onto the 15-member Charter Review Commission and has become a familiar face at City Council meetings.
"It's a small town and you have the ability to do amazing things, you just have to be willing to be patient with it and take the correct steps," she said.
Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @jholbrookREP