Status of Cooper’s Woods Remains in South Bass Island Limbo

Friends of Cooper’s Woods will meet on Monday, 13 November 2017, at 5pm.

Lake Erie Islands Conservancy has released the following informative letter.

Lake Erie Islands Conservancy

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The efforts to preserve Cooper’s Woods as a natural area is not going very well!  The DeRivera Park Trustees – the private trust that owns Cooper’s Woods –  was presented with a proposal to purchase the woods for $2,025,000.00.  The offer was turned down.

The DeRivera Park Trust wishes to build a dormitory/office/maintenance building on two acres of the property.  With over two million dollars, a pretty nice building could be constructed in a number of other areas.

Some members of the Trust have said that they want to hold the property to see what future generations want to do with the wooded area—clear cut the majestic trees, construct a baseball field where trilliums grow, build a dormitory/shop/maintenance building on the walking trails, or sell the property at a profit.

It is pretty clear what this generation wants — Keep Cooper’s Woods just the way it is!

It was hoped that with this offer to purchase the Woods from a conservation agency, the situation would be resolved:  Cooper’s Woods would be preserved and the DeRivera Park Trust would have their dormitory/ office/maintenance building.  It seemed like such a civilized way to resolve this long conflict.  And it appears that the basic conflict is that the vast majority of the people on the Island want to preserve Cooper’s Woods and the majority of members of the DeRivera Park Trust do not represent the people. They represent themselves.

There are three members of the trust:  Kelly Faris, Don Thwaite, and George Stoiber.   Kelly Faris wishes to protect Cooper’s Woods and Don and George want to do what they want to do and have no interest in what the people want.  The 4th paragraph of the 1886 Trust Deed seems to state differently.  The Trust land is “…for the sole benefit and enjoyment of the inhabitation of South Bass Island…”

There is something fundamentally wrong about not listening the people, especially since the tax payers on the Island will have invested about $400.000.00 of public money to pay off the debt on Cooper’s Woods.  The tax payers should have some involvement in the decision making process concerning the Woods.

In 1997, the Friends of Cooper’s Woods created a mission statement:  “to listen to and carry-out in a democratic manner, the will of the majority of residents and property owners of South Bass Island in an endeavor to ensure that pledges stated in the original Cooper’s Woods Town Hall Meeting [held by the DeRivera Park Trustees] on May 18, 1997, are fulfilled.”

Twenty years later, the mission is the same.  Cooper’s Woods is in jeopardy — again!

The Friends of Cooper’s Woods is being revived and is back!  They are dedicated to the preservation and protection of the 18.7 acres of Cooper’s Woods in a natural state — forever.  It is what the overwhelming number of people on South Bass Island want.

The only goal of the Friends is to protect and preserve Cooper’s Woods.  If the DeRivera Park Trustees refuse to listen to the wishes of a majority of the people of South Bass Island, then the process to save Cooper’s Woods may involve significant legal fees.

It is so simple, the DeRivera Park Trustees can sell the 18.7 acres to a conservation agency or place a conservation easement or deed restriction on those acres and the property would be preserved and protected in a natural state forever!