Brook Park continues DriveOhio partnership discussions

By Beth Mlady - (TNS)

BROOK PARK, Ohio — City Council continues to contemplate whether Brook Park should become a DriveOhio testing site for self-driving vehicles.

DriveOhio executives Luke Stedke, who is managing director of communications and policy, and Patrick Smith, senior managing director of stakeholder affairs, spoke during the Dec. 1 council caucus.

They encouraged the city to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement so that companies wanting to conduct autonomous vehicle testing can do so in Brook Park.

In return, DriveOhio would publicize Brook Park to potential autonomous vehicle testers, as well as promote “the unique attributes of the municipality,” the agreement indicates.

The city has no financial obligation should it become a testing site.

“We are the one-stop shop for automated and connected vehicle technology,” Stedke explained about DriveOhio. “We believe these technologies will make travel more efficient and safer in our (transportation) system.”

Councilman Rick Salvatore asked about agreements DriveOhio has in place with other communities.

“I would not be hemmed in by what other communities have done,” Stedke stressed. “This is your opportunity to try to solve challenges that Brook Park faces.”

Salvatore also inquired about Brook Park’s liability in the event something goes wrong.

“This MOA isn’t committing to any kind of specific activity of any form or fashion,” Smith replied. “It’s really just to say you’re interested in talking … and in looking for an opportunity for the technology.”

Brook Park would receive no monetary compensation, but it could benefit in other ways, Stedke indicated.

“You are identifying yourself as innovators, and the companies of the 21st century that are investing millions of dollars in this industry want to work with innovators,” Stedke said.

“This city is going to be a city of innovators,” added Mayor Mike Gammella. “We’re going to change our image from blue collar to high tech. It’s the way of the future.”

Legislation authorizing Gammella to enter into the DriveOhio MOA is slated for a second public reading at council’s Dec. 8 meeting.

By Beth Mlady (TNS)

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