Grandview Heights often is seen as an urban Mayberry, a place where neighbors look out for each other and feel safe and secure.

Grandview Heights often is seen as an urban Mayberry, a place where neighbors look out for each other and feel safe and secure.

That idyll was shattered in 2013 by a shocking murder and other unsettling crimes.

But it also was a year that saw the city's finances continue to improve and the start of long-awaited upgrades to a pair of the community's parks.

Here's a look back at some of 2013's top stories in Grandview and Marble Cliff.

Rare homicide

In August, the city witnessed its first homicide since 2000. Grandview police officers found the body of Jennifer L. Cooke, 35, on Aug. 15 in the second-floor bedroom of her Woodhill Drive home.

Cooke had not been seen for several days, and police were dispatched to the residence to perform a well-being check. They discovered Cooke had been stabbed multiple times.

Investigators found evidence that a robbery may have occurred. Cooke's vehicle was found at a separate location from her home.

To honor Cooke's memory and celebrate her life, friends organized a music festival held Aug. 25 on the lawn of the Grandview library.

A dozen bands played at the festival, which also included a bake sale, silent auction and T-shirt sales to raise money for the Jennifer Cooke Memorial Fund.

Despite what Police Chief David Wood described as "many, many leads," no arrests have been made in the murder investigation.

Likewise, no one has been charged in connection with reports of at least 12 acts of public indecency that took place between June and October. Five reports were made within two hours Aug. 7.

Almost all of the acts occurred at night and involved a man exposing himself to female pedestrians.

The incidents were reported in numerous locations around Grandview and Marble Cliff.

On March 2, a couple walking their dog in the 1000 block of Edgehill Road discovered human remains that were positively identified as those of a 64-year-old man who was reported missing in May 2012 after walking away from Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

Preliminary autopsy results on Kenneth C. Whitfield of Pittsburgh were not conclusive, but it is believed Whitfield died of natural causes.

No foul play is suspected.

In December, dozens of guitars and other instruments and equipment belonging to local bands using a rehearsal space on Williams Avenue were stolen in an overnight burglary.

Police released photographs and the names of three suspects, one of whom was arrested within days of the burglary.

Financial optimism

At its first meeting of 2013, Grandview Heights City Council was presented with an ordinance to approve a little more than $2.1 million in capital improvement projects and equipment purchases. The measure was the tangible benefit of voters passing the city's levy the previous fall, as well as Grandview's successful sale of bonds and grant awards.

At council's annual planning and goal-setting retreat Jan. 26, Director of Finance Bob Dvoraczky reported the city's income-tax receipts for 2012 reached a level not seen since 2008, and prospects are even better for the new year.

"I think our businesses have recovered from the recession," Dvoraczky said. "They are still with us and doing better and there are also new businesses now with us."

Clinton Township officials decided in March to partner with Grandview instead of Upper Arlington to create a Joint Economic Development Zone. Under the agreement, the two sides will share income taxes from new and existing businesses within the township.

The city will collect income taxes from those businesses. The township will receive 80 percent of the taxes and the city 20 percent.

Grandview's higher income-tax rate was a deciding factor in the township's decision.

In November, township voters approved the agreement.

City Council and the city's police officers ratified a new three-year contract agreement in September. Police officers will receive a 3-percent pay increase in each of the next three years, beginning Christmas Day 2013. Officers will continue to pay 15 percent of their health and dental care insurance premiums, with the city continuing to pay 85 percent.

Council approved a $13.7-million budget for 2014 in December, representing about a 2.2-percent increase from 2013 in expenditures for base operations of the city.

The proposed capital improvements budget for 2014 was higher than normal because the city had put off a number of projects during leaner financial times.

Growing Yard

During the summer, City Council approved the final plat for the second phase of the Grandview Yard project. The second phase will include a Giant Eagle store on the north side of Third Avenue.

The final plat for the third phase also was approved, along with an ordinance accepting a right-of-way and land-exchange agreement between Capital Wholesale and Yard developer Nationwide Realty Investors and other legislation that will allow the business to remain operating at 873 Williams Ave.

The developer plans to construct a four-story building with three interconnected components. The ground floor will contain commercial space and apartments will be built on the upper floors.

NRI was scheduled to appear before the planning commission Wednesday, Dec. 18, to seek review and approval of a certificate of appropriateness for a Hofbrauhaus Brewery and Restaurant and office building in the Grandview Yard Southeast Development.

Earlier in the month, council approved the final plat for the southeast portion of the Yard.

Parks getting better

A long-desired project to improve Pierce Field finally got underway in 2013.

The major components of the project included construction of a new multipurpose building to replace the existing structures in the park, new and safer accessible play surfaces, new lighting in the ball diamond's outfield, sidewalks placed along Hilo Lane and new fencing.

A new Ox Roast pit also was built for the Bobcat Boosters, who will use improved kitchen facilities in the multipurpose building at next year's festival.

Plans also were made for improvements at Wyman Woods, including upgrades to the shelter house, a new accessible playground, a multiuse path, improvements to the parking lot and a solution to the flooding problem at the park.

The Wyman Woods project is expected to go to bid in 2014.

Comings and goings

Grandview Heights Public Library Director Mary Ludlum retired Aug. 31 after 32 years at the library, including 20 serving as assistant director and the last five as director.

Ryan McDonnell became the library's new director Sept. 1. He previously had served as director at the Marysville Public Library.

City Council will have three new members next year.

Incumbents P'Elizabeth Koelker, Susan Jagers and Council President Steve Reynolds all decided not to run for re-election in November.

The council race was uncontested, as incumbent Anthony Panzera and first-time candidates Greta Kearns, Stephen Papineau and Chris Smith were elected.

After more than 17 years of service, Marble Cliff Village Council President David Roark also chose not to run.

The Village Council race also was uncontested, with incumbents Matt Cincione, Jack Kukura and Linda Siefkas and former Grandview City Council member Dow Voelker winning election.

In March, Village Council approved a resolution honoring former Mayor Frank Monaco for his three decades of service by naming the fountain on the Cambridge Boulevard Island as the Frank G. Monaco Fountain.

"I was overwhelmed," Monaco said of the honor. "It was a really nice surprise. I certainly didn't expect it. I was never looking for anything -- I just wanted to serve our wonderful community."

Monaco was instrumental in getting the fountain built in the 1990s.

He said he was inspired by the tradition in Italy of having a fountain in the town square.

"It gives Marble Cliff a distinctive character," he said. "People know us now for our fountain."