Westlake's longtime planning director retires
Warren Buffett once said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” It’s unlikely Buffett was thinking of Bob Parry when praising that second “someone,” but the comparison is fitting, literally and figuratively. Current and future generations have Parry to thank not only for the abundance of trees lining Westlake’s streets and developments, but also the transformation of the city from a quiet farming community to a bustling destination for residents and businesses.
Bob Parry, who retired as Westlake’s director of planning and economic development on April 19, played a vital role in shaping the developing city over the course of 26 years at city hall. Hired in 1986, Parry helped to plot a course forward during the most dynamic period in Westlake’s history as the construction of Interstate 90 and a population boom that began in the 1980s shifted the city away from its agricultural roots.
Trained in city planning and experienced from 16 years on the county’s Regional Planning Commission, Parry was brought on by Mayor Dennis Clough to help control the rate and direction of Westlake’s growth.
“Bob has that vision, he had that big picture of what the city of Westlake should be,” said Mayor Clough, noting that Parry was not afraid to stand up to developers if he felt it necessary. In a time of rapid growth, “you have to be able to push back, you can’t accept everything that people want to bring into your community.”
The stability provided by the long tenures of Parry, Mayor Clough, Council Presidents Bob Peterson and Michael Killeen, and Planning Commission Chairmen Dick Lancashire and Dick Schultz aided the execution of long-range plans.
Their foresight and dedication will have a lasting impact on the city. During his final appearance before City Council on April 18, Parry presented a top 10 list of the most memorable projects completed during his tenure. Among them were zoning code updates which facilitated the development of the mostly vacant west side of the city, construction of new municipal facilities including the recreation center, creation of business incentives that led to the construction of $97 million in buildings and 1,400 new jobs and a tree preservation ordinance requiring developers to preserve or replace trees. Parry’s No. 1 planning accomplishment was attracting Crocker Park to the city.
“If there is ever a Mt. Rushmore for Westlake, Bob’s bearded face belongs up there, amongst others who shaped Westlake to the great community that it is today,” assistant planning director Will Krause said during an April 19 farewell reception attended by Parry’s colleagues and family.
In recognition for his many years of service, Parry was showered with praise and retirement gifts from the people with whom he worked. Mayor Clough presented him with a 24-hour Swiss watch for use while traveling overseas; Will Krause unrolled a Bicentennial-style banner with Parry’s name and photo; and a street in Crocker Park was renamed “Parry Lane.”
Sometimes straining against emotion, Parry expressed appreciation for his “right-hand man” Will Krause, the longevity and stability of his job, the respect and support of city council and fellow department directors and partnership with civic groups.
“I’ve enjoyed working here and I hate to leave,” Parry said, “but I think it’s time for me to leave while I can walk out.”
Onto the the shaded, tree-lined streets of Westlake.