Todd Field Amphitheater and Chagrin River Trail plans get public notice in Willoughby – News-Herald


A recent public engagement meeting was held to discuss the design of the Todd Field Amphitheater and Chagrin River Trail projects.

About 50 people attended the meeting in a tent along the banks of the Chagrin River at Todd Field, located at 38264 Glenn Ave. During the meeting, Tom Thielman, Economic Development Manager for Willoughby, provided attendees with an overview of the project and how it got to this point, outlining the history of the idea of ​​having a river trail system. and Willoughby Mayor Robert Fiala’s goal to build an outdoor amphitheater for the performing arts.

“This project is transformative and will be an important part of Willoughby’s artistic and cultural climate going forward,” Thielman said. “Right now, we don’t have a truly top-notch outdoor performing arts center around that can be used by all of the major arts institutions in our community. It will be nice to host a small jazz festival, the Lakeland Civic Band for a concert or see dance performances that the Fine Arts (Association) puts on every year. It is also important to design a facility that is flexible and can be a venue for artist gatherings or fairs, speaking engagements and small theater productions.

A recent public engagement meeting was held to discuss the design of the Todd Field Amphitheater and Chagrin River Trail projects. (Submitted)

Roy Smith, Chairman of the Board of the Willoughby Fine Arts Association, spoke briefly about the collaboration they have established with the town to help plan the future amphitheater and what arts and culture bring to the community . Additionally, Larry Goodman, Principal of Andrews Osborne Academy, provided information on their involvement in the project and how a river trail and performing arts center complements their goals as a university and community institution. The AOA is currently working to expand opportunities for summer programs in the performing arts and sciences, Thielman said.

Also present at the meeting was Tom Rogers, of The Smith Group, the consultant hired by Willoughby to reinvent the functionality of Todd Field. Rogers engaged attendees in an interactive workshop to examine aspects of the amphitheater such as its location in the park, types of amenities, and the character of its design. Various examples of amphitheaters of similar size were shown, allowing the public to vote on which they thought would be most visually appealing.

“Visual SEO is a tool used to gauge a community’s style preferences,” Thielman noted. “Would a more modern installation be preferred over a traditional installation or would a wood-dominated design be more appealing?” Additionally, the components that would connect to a park trail were examined and how downtown Willoughby should fit into the trail network. Should the trail be loose gravel or fully paved? Is access to water important or are kayaking or fishing areas important to residents? These are the kinds of questions that have been asked. »

After the data was collected from the public engagement meeting, a debriefing session was held with key City Hall staff to discuss possible design considerations arising from the meeting. Additionally, a second public engagement effort will be done in the form of an online survey, which will be developed from the same questions posed during the in-person meeting, and will be posted online in the coming weeks.

“That way the city and their consultant can verify some of the things they’ve learned and it will give anyone who wants a chance to participate in this important design process,” Thielman said.

Once the results of the audience engagement surveys are complete, a preliminary report will be created showing design ideas that will all incorporate unique qualities, Thielman said. Of these, it is highly likely that the city will choose three possible designs for further development and adjustment.

“There is a lot to consider when choosing, from the location of the floodway and how it will affect structures, to the current location of utilities, to the topography of the site, to the current location or future of the baseball field, to parking, to traffic access points, how amenities connect and bring better connectivity to downtown Willoughby, to the overall aesthetic,” Thielman said.

These projects could not see the light of day without the Willoughby City Council’s direct support and capital contribution to the process, and the successful securing of capital grants from Ohio, Thielman said.

“We thank the Council and our local state legislators for their past, current and future support of this ambitious and complex project,” Thielman said. “I have to give a lot of credit to the expertise of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Chagrin River Watershed Partnership for guiding us and helping Willoughby with much of the heavy lifting and providing us with a clear vision of the future that is both environmentally friendly. It will provide new recreational and artistic facilities for our citizens.


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