Parks Board Stresses Wakefield Mansion Property Must Be A Park

At a recent Vermilion Parks & Recreation Board meeting, Chairman Parker conveyed that the Mayor had sent a letter to Eric Plato, who had been the caretaker of the Wakefield Mansion property. His services were terminated at that point to save money as they get into more planning expenses.

In regards to the ‘Concerned Citizens’ group, he sent the board correspondence about questions of development restrictions on the Inland Seas Museum Property. Restrictions include:

  • Any existing or future improvements must be park improvements. They can’t be for residential or commercial uses, or as government offices.
  • Any fees associated with reserving park enclosures must be put back into the property and cannot be a revenue source for something else.
  • Additionally, when they finalize site plans, they must be submitted to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy for review and approval because of the conservation easements that are on the property.

Another concern he had was what happens to the allowable square footage of impervious surface if the mansion remains? He noted that the Wakefield House is 0.072 acres, and the museum addition is 0.127 acres, so roughly two tenths of an acre is in those two facilities.

“If they’re talking about adding a pavilion at some point, that roof would be impervious,” said Parker. “They’re also talking about cutting in from the west side of Main Street into the property and regrading it for the expansion of the parking. Impervious surfaces cannot exceed .6 acres on the whole property. This includes the current parking lot that’s at the top of the hill, sidewalk and stairs, any patios that would be put in, and new parking.”

Parker stated they would share this specific information with the ‘Concerned Citizens’ group as soon as they meet. Somebody from Western Reserve would attend as well.

Parker stressed that future improvements must be typical to a park.

“This whole area is a city park now since it was acquired,” said Parker. “Whatever is done there has to be typical to a park by the conservation. Again, it can’t be residential, commercial, or for uses of government offices.”

He explained how the subcommittee got to the concept they came to. They started out by looking at the survey and saying – refurbish what’s there and make it a public venue. Gradually, things got whittled down to what they could really do there with predictable revenue sources and the ability to raise money for all the capital stuff.

Another concern he noted is that if there were uses of that facility for offices and events, they already have a parking problem down there - at least in the summer months.

“Will they have more competition for the limited spaces they have; adding 15 – 20 spaces of that?” asked Parker.

These are some of the concerns he feels they should share with the ‘Concerned Citizens’. They can’t give up any square footage from their concept.

Board Member Warden asked if the proposed parking spaces on the east side of the property will be hard surfaced or permeable. Parker said permeable is considerably more expensive and the city will be doing the street part of this, so it’s out of their lane. He said the utilities will be renewed before the street is paved, and this would need to be addressed by the Administration and City Council.

“However, the concern remains – they need the square footage for parking,” said Parker. “How much they need if the museum addition is gone is one thing, but does this leave them enough?”

Parker explained that 5,662 square feet is needed for the added turnaround loop and new parking area. The museum north addition is 4,973 square feet, and the Pilot House is another 222 square feet, so they would be 700 feet short if the mansion remained.

Parker said that last month they approved the encumbrance of $60,000 for the beach restroom project, which was from the 2019 capital budget, and they have another $60,000 set aside in the 2020 capital he thought it would be a good time to encumber the money even though they don’t have to spend it yet. If Western Reserve knows the money is coming, it can count as a local match towards some of the grants they are trying to get.

The Parks Board voted to encumber $60,000 from the 2020 Capital Budget for the use of the new beach restrooms.