Mayor Dennis Clough believes the time has come for Westlake to have its own commemorative street clock.
Clough, Finance Director Prashant Shah, Service Director Paul Quinn and Community Services Director Joyce Able Schroth traveled to Cincinnati July 18 to visit the offices of the Verdin Company, a manufacturer of bells and clock towers.
The mayor would like a permanent monument commemorating the community’s 200th birthday, such as a street clock, to be erected this year.
“I think it’s something worthwhile for celebrating our bicentennial,” Clough said in remarks at a City Council committee meeting Thursday.
During his travels, Clough said, he observed that other cities had installed their own commemorative street clocks. At mayors’ conferences attended by Clough, companies such as Verdin displayed their clocks to municipal leaders.
The mayor said City Hall, on Hilliard Boulevard, is his favored location for such a clock. Other possible locations, Clough said, are Clague Park, Westlake Recreation Center and the corner of Hilliard Boulevard and Dover Center Road.
Of the various models manufactured by Verdin, Clough said he personally favors the Heritage Limited Edition four-face street clock. Standing at a height of 17 feet 10 inches, the Heritage can be ordered with a built-in digital carillon, or bell instrument, that plays chimes on the hour and a variety of musical selections for special occasions.
Street clocks of the type Verdin manufactures have a starting price of $10,000 and can run to $50,000 or more, he said.
The street clock Clough would like the city to purchase costs about $35,000, he said.
Clough decided to pursue the street clock idea after the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council abandoned plans to erect a public art sculpture to commemorate the city’s bicentennial.
Marge Widmar, president of the arts group, said the organization originally proposed spending about $35,000
for such a project. The city had earmarked $100,000 for bicentennial activities and discussed contri-buting $12,500 of that to the
Clough said the $12,500 in city dollars earmarked for the bicentennial sculpture could now be used for the street clock. Money raised from a bicentennial ball planned for Nov. 12 at LaCentre Conference and Banquet Center, also previously earmarked for the sculpture, could now go toward the clock, the mayor said. Donations would also be sought to purchase the clock, he said.
The street clock could be erected before the end of Westlake’s bicentennial year, Clough noted. But in order to install a clock by Nov. 14, the anniversary of Dover Township’s incorporation, the order will have to be placed in September, the mayor said.
The Westlake-Westshore Arts Council has returned money that had been pledged for the bicentennial sculpture, Widmar said. While the organization does have some money in its coffers set aside for public art, Widmar said she does not see the organization contributing to the proposed street clock.
After working on the project for more than a year, the arts council decided earlier this month to discontinue its efforts. Thirty-five thousand dollars was not sufficient to attract the high-quality artist they sought, Widmar told West Life. The arts council also decided it did not have the staff necessary to raise the money for such a project, at least not this year, she added.
The arts council wanted to back a public art project the right way, Widmar said, not just put up a sculpture for the sake of doing something for the city’s bicentennial. Widmar added that she would have liked to see the organization continue to work on the public art project, even if it was not completed by the end of the year.
It’s unclear how the now-abandoned bicentennial public art project would have compared to the 16-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture at the corner of Hilliard Boulevard and Dover Center Road. Erected in 2005, the $30,000 sculpture was created by Westlake native Harold Balazs. The Westlake-Westshore Arts Council spent three years raising money for that project.
A formal call for artists for the bicentennial project was never issued, Widmar said, so it’s impossible to know what ideas would have emerged had the project proceeded.
“In all fairness, one could not have had something in mind ahead of time,” Widmar explained.