Hey, Chagrin Falls folks! We know you have opinions and you are not afraid to voice them. Lord knows that’s true.
But for some reason you have been silent on one question of the day. Mute as the Sphinx. Silent as a sponge. It is this: Should we or should we not light the natural falls at night.
It was brought to attention of Chagrin Falls Village Council a few weeks ago by a gentleman from Chester Township who Zoom-delivered a petition signed by 200 people asking council to light it up, so to speak.
The petition passer said he enjoyed dining at 17 River Grille, the restaurant with a view of the falls, but the experience would be much better if the falls were to be lighted at night. Furthermore, the village was missing an opportunity to highlight its most scenic location and the natural wonder for which it was named.
Council agreed one of its committees would study the idea and consider the request and the gentleman from Chesterland promised to deliver his petitions to Village Hall.
That is when dead silence set in. The story of the gentleman from Chesterland and his request to light the falls ran in this newspaper and a committee of council met to discuss the idea.
There was little to nil public interest and the committee chair reported members might recommend lighting the falls on special occasions, but the taxpayers didn’t appear to have an opinion one way or another. And that was that.
As it turned out, those 200 names did not all belong to village residents so the petition was not viewed as a mandate.
Last week, the gentleman from Chesterland returned to council and was updated on all of the above. He promised a new petition signed entirely by village residents and repeated how glorious the falls would look if it were illuminated.
Not just for restaurant guests, either, but for those who watch the falls from the viewing platforms on either side of the river and the street level sidewalk above.
This time around, the restaurant’s owner weighed in, too, offering to help with lighting of the falls. It would have the added benefit of brightening his place, he said, and make the falls area a safer place for the kids he sees at night hanging out on the slippery moss-slicked precipice and in the river below.
Then the conversation ended abruptly when one council person mentioned the falls lighting subject was moot no matter what the talking points.
The Main Street Bridge directly above the falls is scheduled for a lengthy reconstruction project soon. The meaning of the statement was clear. Who wants to spotlight what will be an untidy construction area for quite a long time.
But hold on a minute. Why not illuminate it? The village might go a step further and lease several of those stationary coin operated binoculars for the duration; scatter them around the area so folks can get a closer look at the action and, we should add, the desecration. Explanation to follow.
There are thousands, maybe millions of photos, paintings, quilts, prints and all kinds of other art works that have been made to commemorate this view of the rushing water and the old bridge made of stones quarried nearby more than a century ago.
But now the state of Ohio has proposed the original boulders be covered by artificial materials that “replicate” stone.
If this proposal comes to pass, lighting the area would shed light on the crime in a literal sense.
And lighting the scene at night will allow extra time for photographers and painters to make their final pilgrimages to the rocks beneath the waterfall to snap one last picture and complete a final plein air impression of the beloved scene, before the old stone bridge is covered with materials not found in nature, which God never intended and many of us call “phony baloney.”