By Regina Brett
The Plain Dealer
Randy Stang lived so close to the city park in Bay Village, he was used to finding stray Frisbees, golf balls, baseballs, even arrows and rockets in his yard.
He let it all slide.
Then he heard that a group planned to gather at City Hall four days ago for a public hearing about building a skateboard and biking park in Bradley Park.
Randy knew that creating a place for skaters, scooters, skateboarders and BMX bikes would increase the noise, traffic and crowds of teenagers, so he gathered up three pages of notes and carried them to Bay Village City Hall.
He listened as everyone was warned to be polite, since there were such strong emotions on both sides of the Bay Skate and Bike Park issue.
He watched as Lawrence Kuh, a middle-school teacher, talked about the need for the park, the six years of resistance, and how if it didn't go in Bradley Park, it would probably never happen.
Randy listened as one resident, then another and another, explained that a skate and bike park might be a nice idea, but not in my back yard, not in my neighborhood, not in my city. There was already too much noise.
Randy had heard enough noise. He stood, took out his notes, and spoke in a lively but gentle tone about what it was like to live so close to the park: "The loudest noise on any given summer day that you will experience is the parents cheering their students either playing baseball or soccer. The second-loudest noise you will hear is the parents telling the coach or the player how to play the game.
"The third-loudest noise would be the coach yelling out the names of the players and telling them what to do and where to move."
The noise didn't bother Randy. Neither did the lighting.
"New lighting on the basketball courts – pretty bright actually. It's on till 11 o'clock at night in the summer times. Kind of lights up my back yard. Not a bad thing, actually.
"Probably a good thing, 'cause – just a quick diversion here – I woke up two days ago to find my garage door open and my car door open and my glove box was rifled through. Good news is, I didn't find any bike tracks or skate board tracks in the snow; only found big foot prints. So, somebody was busy during the night, but it wasn't skateboarders and bikers."
As he went on, he grew almost breathless in his passion.
"I'm in favor of a skate and bike park in Bay Village in Bradley Park. I am wondering if the citizens against the park have no grandchildren, no children, or are not a child themselves."
He ended his five-minute speech telling them exactly where they could put that skate and bike park: "You want to put it just to the north of that baseball diamond there, probably about 50 feet from my yard."
Then he fell silent. Forever. As soon as he finished speaking, he collapsed.
A doctor and nurse tried CPR to revive him. They couldn't.
Randy Stang was 55. He leaves his wife, Jacqueline, and four children: Lindsay, Taylor, Logan and Branson.
And he leaves us all with a legacy, with new words to live by.
We hear people vow all the time, almost threaten, "Not in my back yard." Perhaps you've said it. I confess that I have.
Randy's message? I believe so much in my community, put it in my back yard.
When the people of Bay Village build The Stang Memorial Skate and Bike Park, I hope it sends out such a joyful noise that it reaches all the way to Randy.
The wake for Randy Stang will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. The funeral is at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Both will be at Dostal Funeral Home's Sunset Chapel, 6245 Columbia Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070.
Full Article, including an audio recording of Randy's speech.