Making Mountains Out Of Rose Hills: Part II

I feel it is necessary to address possible misinterpretations from my last contribution to this paper. Based on my attendance at a recent Bay Village City Council meeting, I wanted to provide a logical evaluation of the Bay Village Historical Society’s (BVHS) position as it adheres to the Cahoon Will.

I asserted that since the function of the Will was to expressly declare property rights and avoid contention via court proceedings, a lawsuit would contradict the Will. If the Cahoon Will is central to your complaint, then your argument should probably operate within the confines of the document.

My ultimate goal was for the Society to reconsider their “approach.” Threatening legal action was an attempt to coerce the decision and a subsequent suit will squander taxpayer dollars. I felt this presented a perspective that has been ignored until now, but that individuals who are not members of the BVHS or the Bay Skate and Bike Park Foundation would find relevant.

The Society basically showed up to the meeting saying, “Let’s talk … but if you disagree with us, we are suing you.” I have no problem with the Society objecting to the location, I understand the feeling of intrusion they have; but their stubbornness will cause more harm than good to the community financially and by distracting from more important issues.

Think about what would happen if everyone did this. Keep in mind that unfinished skate park design plans were sent to the Planning Commission for a reason. 

In the April 6 issue of the Observer, V.L. McLeod challenged me to explain why objections to previous locations by other groups were okay while the BVHS’ is not. As far as I know, the objections Mr. McLeod mentions were not ultimatums the way the BVHS has given, but instead were acknowledged in discussion, sans litigation.

To be clear, the project was sent to the Planning Commission to work out the kinks; if this cannot be done, it will not be finalized. If V.L. Mcleod is correct, although other locations were not as far along, this has happened before.

In the April 6 issue of the Observer, Professor Wendy Wagner said I have “seemingly limitless faith” in city government. This isn’t the most brutal of criticisms; however it was a hasty assumption. If I had limitless faith in city government, I would not be a 21-year-old attending public meetings…I would stay home.

She also stated that I have taken the city’s argument “at face value” and concluded that they should be immune from challenge. I hope by now it is clear that I felt it was necessary to share my disapproval of the BVHS’ poor negotiating skills and irresponsible strategy, not their ability to challenge.

Perhaps my advising readers to read Wagner’s letter was too subtle an implication that the site or the decision was not beyond criticism. Moreover, few people know this but it is worthwhile to mention that several days before the meeting I contacted a Councilman to suggest a location that, to my knowledge, has yet to be considered.

I am skeptical that legal expense is synonymous with a willingness to go to court. Wouldn’t "legal expense" comprise all advice a city might need and not just legal defense? Nonetheless, if the $600,000 is entirely related to the city “pulling out the stops to defend itself” on various matters, I think increasing the expense with another lawsuit is a tough sell to the average taxpayer who may not share the opinion of the BVHS that a park will diminish the historic character of the area. I forgot, a taxpayer has no say in this circumstance. Is it fair for residents to finance the opinion of what has become a divisive interest group?

Finally, opposing litigation does not equate to limitless faith in City Hall. Once court proceedings begin, the individual resident is deprived the ability to contribute their input and thus to help directly shape what is going on in their community. How does boiling this issue down to “Bay Village Historical Society v. City of Bay Village” possibly speak for everyone?

Kevin DeFrank lives in Bay Village.

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Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 5:46 PM, 04.15.2010