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Lakefront parks deal moving fast thanks to state funding

David Beach  |  04/02/13 @ 3:00pm  |  Posted in Connecting to nature

People who dream of a great Cleveland lakefront cheered yesterday, as Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a state transportation bill containing $14 million for repairs to Cleveland Lakefront State Park (not included in the bill was more support for transit, but that’s another story).

No access<br />The Cleveland lakefront has been poorly maintained for many years, but now there is hope for better management.

The state funding will help take care of a big maintenance backlog. And that will remove a financial barrier that has made Cleveland Metroparks reluctant to take over management of the park, which has six segments stretching from Edgewater Park to Wildwood Park. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has managed the park since 1977, and it’s widely believed that the Metroparks can do a much better job.

In the coming weeks, there will a flurry of negotiations between the City of Cleveland, ODNR, and the Metroparks, as the parties try to agree on a process to transfer the park to new management. Thus we could be close to a deal that will greatly improve the lakefront experience for people in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio.

While this will be a milestone, there will still be a lot to do: expand public access to the lake (the existing parks are way too small), finish the West Shoreway project as originally promised to reconnect neighborhoods to the lake, improve continuous pedestrian/bike trails along the lakefront, finish the Towpath Trail all the way to the lake, provide better access to Whiskey Island, improve trails at the new Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, etc.

Update - April 22, 2013Cleveland City Council unanimously approved legislation to lease the city-owned lakefront parks to the Cleveland Metroparks for 99 years.

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