Bob Parry, the recently-retired planning and economic development, took advantage of his last council meeting several weeks ago to highlight some of the most important developments since he took office in 1986. Parry retired on April 19.
In David Letterman style, he presented a “Top 10” list of changes the city has undergone while he was the director, from adding bike lanes to the construction of Crocker Park, the city’s Bicentennial and Westlake in Bloom.
Here’s how he ranks the Top 10 projects.
10: Westlake Bicentennial Project: “It was a very successful program and it involve Tralee,” Parry said of one of Westlake’s two sister-cities. The Bicentennial in 2011 included a great ball drop and various events throughout the year.
9. Westlake in Bloom. Westlake in Bloom started in 2002 and the city won the America in Bloom award its first year out. “The city has been involved in our own little Westlake in Bloom,” Parry said. “It’s done a lot for the city’s beautification. It’s really improved the city. This year’s winners will again be honored at LaCentre.
8. Design guidelines for Crocker Park. Added to zoning code. It’s improved design of building and kept out some of the more outrageous things people may come up with.” He cited the “toning down” of Taco Bell and McDonald's buildings to fit the guidelines.
7. Tree preservation ordinance. Started in 1989. “We heard a lot of complaint about tree clearing,” Parry said, noting that the city was rapidly expanding at the time. “People notice how wooded WL is because of this tree ordinance.” Since 1986, 17,000 new trees have been planted and numerous Oak trees have been saved.
6. Zoning code updates including cluster home updates. Adding cluster single family and sign regulations helped keep the city organized, Parry said.
5. Planning and development process. In 1963, first guide plan was submitted by city leaders and then updated in 1984. The city bike lane plan in 2012 was added. The original guide plans included three sites for malls. “That was changed drastically,” as two were removed and added to Crocker Park.
4. Public facilities and the Westlake Recreation Center. Parry said 25 years ago Village Hall was at the corner of Dover and Hilliard. “Every department was in there except law, that was in a little house behind us,” Parry said of 25 years ago. Since then, the city has added two fire stations, a police station, city hall, community services building and the Westlake Recreation Center.
3. Business incentives: Parry said the city was forced to create business incentives to deal with competition outside the city. That included Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) and obtaining a Job Creation Grant in 2008. The result has been more than 1,400 jobs created, 700 retained and resulted in new payroll of approximately $400 million (adjusted for 2011) from more than $97 million in new buildings.
2. Crocker Road extension that connected I-90 “The city had to really fight to get that in,” Parry said. “We had this missing link for Westlake and 480.”
And the number one accomplishment Westlake has seen in the past 25 years?
1. Crocker Park. Approved in 2000, the plan included 1.7 million square feet at the time. Could go up to 3 million when stages 3 and 4 are complete. “It will continue to be an economic engine for the city well into the future,” Parry said.