Westlake looks to 'pave paradise and put up a parking lot'

Last March I was shocked and saddened over the trees cut down at Clague Park south of the pool. When I saw this destruction of trees, I recalled that Sophronia Clague loved her trees.

As William Robishaw wrote in his book, "You've Come A Long Way Westlake": "One of Sophronia's wishes, expressed in her formal granting of the land to the Village, was that the trees in the "woodlot" should never feel the stroke of an ax. When Hilliard Road was extended through Westlake, Sophronia was nearly heartbroken when the southern edge of the virgin forest was removed to make room for the new roadway. This stipulation by Sophronia explains why a large part of the park bordering the western Hilliard Road entrance remains as natural growth."

The City of Westlake cut down 3/4-acre from the "wood lot" for Clague Park Pool expansion. The expansion could have gone toward the north of the present pool into open grassland. Apparently someone wanted the new building to face the corner of Clague and Hilliard Roads for all to see, instead of preserving trees on city property. And no one at City Hall thought about checking for a deed? This would have never happened in neighboring Bay Village's Cahoon Park!

Now the City is planning on putting in four new baseball diamonds behind Clague Museum and Playhouse. They are planning on taking out a dozen or more trees, on the north side of museum, so they can greatly expand the parking lot on both sides of the museum. They will be taking out 31 trees total according to their latest plans.

This is the area where the Westlake Historical Society has their Antique and Craft Show every year. The antiques dealers always send in their contracts early to get their shaded spots for the show, which is the main fundraiser for the Westlake Historical Society. Dealers will not set up in the hot sun, especially on a hot parking lot in July, as no one will be shopping – it's just too hot for most people.

I personally find it very disrespectful that the City would accept this land in the 1920s as the township's first park and then take out so many trees against the Clagues' wishes. I also am bewildered that fellow board members of the Historical Society, who knew about these changes, didn't do more to protect the wishes of the Clagues; both with the pool renovations and now this huge parking lot on both sides of the Clague Museum.

I believe there are other options instead of cutting down even more trees. Please contact Bob Kelly (bkelly@cityofwestlake.org), Jim Bedell (jbedell@cityofwestlake.org) and Mayor Clough (dclough@cityofwestlake.org) and express your views or comments and other possible options for this parking lot. There is a large grassy area across the street near the monument, which could stay a grassy area, and be used for overflow parking.

It's too late for the trees next to the pool, but perhaps with your help, we can save the trees next to the Clague Museum. Before you email, take a look behind the Westlake Rec Center, to see the huge cleared wooded lot for the new senior center. A great loss of natural green space and animal habitat, for a building that could have been built in another location, and not put our senior citizens at risk trying to pull out onto Center Ridge or Hilliard.

Jan Schmitt

I am on the board for the Westlake Historical Society and hold fundraisers for the Society. I love nature and hiking in the woods with my dogs. 

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:49 AM, 04.02.2019