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Monday, August 24, 2015

Riverfront Update: The Lake Link Trail is Awesome

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:47 AM

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
The first phase of the 1.3 mile Lake Link Trail (aka The Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail) is officially open for use. Bigwigs from the Cleveland Foundation, the Metroparks and even the United States Dep. of the Interior (Including Secretary Sally Jewell) praised the multi-modal trail in a dedication ceremony two Thursdays back.

The completed portion runs from Hoopple’s and the Columbus Road Bridge to Scranton Road, and it instantly has become the Industrial River Valley’s most picturesque route for joggers and casual cyclists. Scene jogged the trail last Friday, and can confirm that the views are sublime. When complete, the trail will run all the way to Wendy Park.  

The Lake Link Trail, among other projects, were celebrated last week in a City Club panel discussion held off-site at Merwin’s Wharf, a stone’s throw from the new trail’s Ohio City mouth. (Full podcast available here).

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
The Metroparks’ Brian Zimmerman, the Port Authority’s William Friedman, Cumberland Development’s Dick Pace, and LAND Studio’s Ann Zoller took turns singing the praises of Cleveland’s waterfront development and highlighting their own organizational priorities within the city’s ongoing quest for activities and amenities on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

Zoller and Zimmerman both suggested that without the “spirit of collaboration” among stakeholders, (governmental, corporate and philanthropic), much of this “next-level” visioning and dialoguing would continue to stall.

Pace’s lakefront mecca, framed as a family-friendly, all-inclusive neighborhood, will include a school, a restaurant and residences. Pace argued that his project shouldn’t be viewed as competing with the likes of Flats East Bank or W. 25th. It’s meant for families, he said, to show them that they can and should raise kids downtown.

Friedman talked mostly about commercial shipping and his ongoing efforts to grow Northeast Ohio’s maritime trade, not to mention the glorious “theater of the harbor,” which everyone fiercely agreed should be leveraged and further publicized as a cool amenity / spectator sport.

WCPN’s Rick Jackson moderated, and for the most part allowed the gathered leaders to dote on their projects. The potential for development, to hear these folks tell it, is limited only by our can-do attitude. And while it’s certainly true that some of the early projects seem like successes — the Lake Link, for our money, smells like exactly the kind of thing the Metroparks ought to be doing — important issues related to safety, financing and scheduling weren’t discussed at length, if they were discussed at all. Pace said a mercurial “Phase One” of his lakefront resort might be completed in time for the RNC.

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
It was Ann Zoller who chimed in to say that these organizations need to start completing projects if they intend to prove that they’re actually happening, that the momentum is real.

Here, here!

And our ol’ chum Brian Zimmerman, not what you’d call a gifted extemporaneous speaker, uttered the phrase “next level” at least six hundred times in the course of the one-hour conversation. The much decried “Sky Lift,” Zimmerman said, was ripe for “that next level of conversation.” And when asked why the Cuyahoga River doesn’t feature duck boat tours like some other cities on the water, Zimmerman offered up the Metroparks’ Water Taxi as a comparison.

While certainly not as iconic as the duck boats, Zimmerman said, the Water Taxi will really contribute to the Metroparks’ “next level of education.”

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