By Anna Skinner
In 1980, Lisabeth Armstrong’s family property was in the middle of nowhere. She and her husband Thomas moved to Thornewood Farms, which had belonged to Armstrong’s family since the 1950s. Through the years, it became easier to live in the country. Now, Armstrong is concerned about Westfield’s rampant development, which edges closer and closer to her beloved property.
“I like to be able to come home to the country and go to the stores or gas stations or whatever, but I like to be able to live in the setting we’ve been in since 1980,” she said. “There’s something very special about it. It’s nice to not have the things that go on with a lot of development, which is a lot of noise, the traffic and the whole environment changes with a lot of houses.”
Armstrong spent the summer renovating Thornewood Farms’ silo, a building that has been on the property for more than 60 years. With the help of Mike McClain of Spencer, Ind., she transformed it into a homey workspace with a waterfall and rustic décor. She and her family use the renovated silo for meditation, writing and artistic creations. The cut-out windows look across the 55 acres where her horses graze.
But lately, the threat of future development by Pulte Homes across the Wood Wind Golf Course has kept Armstrong from being able to fully enjoy her space in fear of what may soon surround it.
“We’ve been used to living in the country,” she said. “We can ride our bikes all around and have our horses. It’s been relatively peaceful and quiet. When the golf course was first put in, I remember calling my dad and saying, ‘You wouldn’t believe it, but there’s going to be a golf course across the street.’ He said, ‘Don’t be upset, it will only improve your land value.’ Little did we know, though, that eventually that was going to possibly be surrounded by homes. It changes the whole character of this area.”
Armstrong is the creator of the “Stop Rampant Development in Westfield” petition, which elicited more than 700 signatures against the proposal. The proposal has had multiple public hearings, and the Westfield City Council has not reached a decision on whether or not to allow the development.
“My goals are to preserve the countryside we have here, keep it in tack and make our voices heard so the (city) council doesn’t make all these decisions without listening to the people,” Armstrong said. “This is the largest development in the history of Westfield. It’s well over 700 acres of land and over 1,000 homes, 495 apartments, and this is an area that is supposed to be low density and rural according to the comprehensive plan.”
Armstrong has attended the public hearings along with other residents near the proposed development. It is uncertain when the city council will reach its decision. Pulte Homes returned with an updated proposal at the Nov. 21 plan commission meeting for another public hearing.
“I don’t mind there being houses, I’m not against development,” Armstrong said. “But they’re not listening to the people who already live here who have invested their lives and their property. They’re changing our landscape drastically.”
Meet Lisabeth Armstrong
Family: Husband, Thomas. Sons Michael, William and Henry.
Pets: Cats Walker and Annabelle, dogs Sophie, Jackson and Saba, horses Albert and Edward.
Silo history: Built in the 1940s, renovated in the 1970s, and renovated again in July to be a workspace for Armstrong and her family.
Hobbies: Writing, painting, cooking, photography.
Future of the property: Armstrong said she hopes to keep her property in the family. She wants to write a book about the silo’s history and its involvement on her property.