By Kevin Kelley
Besides Mayor Dennis Clough, in office since 1986, probably no one has had more of an impact on the city’s development over the past quarter century than Bob Parry.
Parry, the city’s director of planning and economic development, retired April 26 after 26 years in the position.
“If there ever was a Mount Rushmore of Westlake, Bob’s bearded face belongs up there with others that shaped Westlake into the great city it is today,” said Will Krause, the city’s assistant director of planning and economic development and Parry’s right-hand man for the past 24 years.
Two decades ago, the high point of shopping in the city was a needlepoint shop at Williamsburg Square, Krause said during an April 19 reception in recognition of Parry’s retirement.
“I’ve never met anyone that was more dedicated to their job, was more willing to go the extra mile in the pursuit of excellence,” Krause said of Parry. “And I think the quality of development in Westlake these past 26 years is a testament to that dedication.”
Clough credited Parry with managing the city’s growth in a controlled fashion while also maintaining a vision of the community’s future.
“He had that big picture of what the city of Westlake should be,” the mayor said.
Parry was not afraid, when necessary, to push back against developers’ proposed projects if they were not good fits for Westlake, Clough said.
“Westlake has benefited greatly because of t he expertise that Bob has shown and brought to the city of Westlake,” the mayor said.
A native of Connecticut, Parry grew up in Cleveland Heights. He attended the Ohio State University, earning a degree in visual design and a minor in architecture in 1968. Two years later, he received a master’s degree in city and regional planning, also from OSU.
After serving as a consultant, Parry became deputy director for the Cuyahoga County Planning Commissions. Clough persuaded him to work for Westlake in 1987.
Parry credited the stability and continuity of government in Westlake with the ability to execute consistent planning goals. During his 26 years as planning director, the city has had only two council presidents, two chairmen of the Planning Commission, and one mayor, Parry noted.
Among the trends Parry has witnessed in Westlake has been the drop-off in new single-family home subdivisions as land in the city filled up. More townhouses and cluster homes, which requires less land and appeal to empty-nesters, have grown in popularity, he said.
Crocker Park, Parry said, is an example of the new urbanism seen in city planning, in which new developments have town centers and a higher population density. Such developments, which are seen as an answer to suburban sprawl, have been a trend across the country. “Westlake is really at the forefront of that,” Parry said.
In retirement, Parry plans to pursue photography, water color painting and travel with his wife, Laura. He said he may do some part-time consulting.
At the April 19 reception, Crocker Park tenant coordinator Richard Levitz presented Parry with a “Parry Lane” street sign in the style of the development’s street signs. The plan, Crocker Park officials said, is to actually name a future pedestrian alley Parry Lane.
“I’ll be really proud if that happens because I put a lot of time in Crocker Park,” Parry said.
Bob Parry’s Top 10 Planning and Development Accomplishments in Westlake
At the April 18 City Council meeting, his last before retiring, Bob Parry presented a top 10 list of planning accomplishments the city achieved during his 26 years as planning director.
1. Crocker Park
2. Crocker Road Extension
3. business tax incentives
4. construction of municipal facilities, such as the Westlake Recreation Center and City Hall
5. planning and development guide plans
6. zoning code updates
7. tree preservation ordinance, 1989
8. establishment of design guidelines for Crocker Park and elsewhere
9. Westlake in Bloom gardening competition
10. Westlake bicentennial, 2011