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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Towpath Trail Completion Closer to Reality After Key Land Acquisition

Posted By on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Thumbs up back at you, tandem bicyclists.
  • Thumbs up back at you, tandem bicyclists.

In the spring, we reported that the quest to bring the Towpath Trail to Cleveland’s lakefront had hit a number of potholes, most notably accusations of conflicts of interest and corruption among those with horses in the race.

At issue were two chunks of land — one owned by the well-heeled Wolstein family, the other by real estate developer John Ferchill — that are key to completion of the 101-mile trail. As Scene reported, the two properties were particularly volatile in value: When the Ohio Canal Corridor originally applied for grant money to purchase the property in 2009, it offered up inflated appraisals around $11 million. The state agreed to cough up the dough, only to pull it back when Scene’s article revealed the alleged conflicts of interest of Ohio Canal Corridor Director Tim Donovan. (Meet the celebrities behind the maneuvering at clevescene.com/towpath.)

Now it appears everything’s been cleared up: Last week, path planners at the Ohio Canal Corridor and the Trust for Public Land announced they had acquired the crucial land. The reported purchase price: $4.8 million, which frees up more than $6 million in state funds that can now be squandered in other areas.

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