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The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from Jackson Township: Wandering at Willowdale

  • Life at Willowdale Lake seems to be lived at a more leisurely pace — fishing, cruising on a pontoon boat, sitting to watch the water ripples and walking the narrow roads that weave among the abundant stands of trees.

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  • Life at Willowdale Lake seems to be lived at a more leisurely pace — fishing, cruising on a pontoon boat, sitting to watch the water ripples and walking the narrow roads that weave among the abundant stands of trees.
    “Willowdale Lake Country Club,” identifies a sign on Willowdale Lake Ave. NW, at the point where it has made its way from state Route 241 to Sycamore Drive NW. “Private community. Members only. Est. 1924.”
    Indeed, the community has existed for enough decades that recent obituaries in The Repository have included words to the effect of “grew up at Willowdale Lake” or “longtime resident of Willowdale Lake.”
    In fact, a small green plaque near the Willowdale Lake clubhouse marks a young tree “In Memory of Nell Montgomery” and adds the assurance that the person honored is “forever in our hearts.”
    Set in a private community, Willowdale Lake clubhouse is frequently used by the public for weddings, business gatherings, birthday parties and graduation celebrations. Information on those uses can be obtained by calling 330-499-9016 or visiting www.willowdalelake.com. Willowdale Lake, after all, is not a secret community. Just a pleasant one.
    Behind the clubhouse, at the edge of the water, is a sandy beach volleyball court and a basketball court of a harder surface. At the front, in the parking lot, is a spot reserved for the community association’s president.
    “We have a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Everybody takes their turn,” said Debbie Costin, who has lived with her husband, Rich, at Willowdale for 22 years.
    Costin was walking with her daughters, Mikenna and Shannon, one afternoon early this week. Roads in the lake community are narrow, winding and hilly — a combination that keeps the speed limit to a pedestrian-friendly 15 mph.
    “Yield,” a sign on a road leading to the clubhouse said. “One lane bridge.”
    Unsurprisingly for an allotment built so long ago, streets surrounding Willowdale Lake are named for trees — Sycamore, Oak, Spruce, Cherry — and old-growth trees are plentiful enough to shadow the lake and its properties. On overcast days, the greens of the vegetation take on an almost somber tone — peaceful, but wanting something — that is brightened the moment the sun peeks through the clouds to reflect off the water.
    The water is not large and geometrically shaped. In the manner of many small bodies of water, Willowdale Lake seems a collection of small coves, enough to keep the people taking an afternoon ride on a pontoon boat roaming sort of aimlessly. They follow a shoreline that itself appears to want to wander — not willy-nilly, but rather in some natural pattern that it finds interesting.
    A visit to Willowdale Lake is one with a lot of curves involved. And many hills have to be descended. Everything seems to go down. Roads go down. Driveways descend. Steps decline at an angle to waterfront lands and docks.
    Page 2 of 2 - The sounds of tires continually turning on asphalt or small stones can be heard through an open car window, competing enough against the more peaceful sounds — birds chirping and leaves rustling. It makes a motorist want to stop and take in the low-volume noise of nature, the whispered voice of Willowdale Lake.