Land Protected for Cleveland’s Link to the Lake Trail

CLEVELAND, OHIO, 12/29/09: The only remaining intact corridor available for a new trail in downtown Cleveland has been protected, The Trust for Public Land, ParkWorks Inc., the City of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County announced today. This purchase includes over 1.3 miles of continuous property that will serve as the backbone of the future Link to the Lake Trail.

The future trail will connect Lake Erie at Wendy Park and Whiskey Island with the historic 110-mile Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which also provides access to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and further south to New Philadelphia.

The property, a former railroad corridor situated in the Flats District of downtown Cleveland, was purchased from a development company by the Ohio office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, and conveyed the land to ParkWorks, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission it is to enhance Cleveland.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to secure a future trail corridor that someday will connect millions of Ohioans to the lake, to parks, and to each other,” said Bill Carroll, Ohio state director for The Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful to the many partners including ParkWorks for their commitment in leading efforts to revitalize Cleveland through the development of public open space and greenways. It has been a great partnership.”

“The acquisition of this corridor was the result of an model partnership, said Ann Zoller, Executive Director, ParkWorks, Inc. “The deal simply could not have happened without TPL’s expertise and the leadership of both the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, each of whom recognizes the importance of securing access to our lakefront. ParkWorks is delighted to be part of such a significant project.”

3.23 acres of the property were purchased outright, and a trail easement was secured for the remaining 1.75 acres. The trail easement is an important legal tool for limiting development on the property, allowing only for recreational trail construction and associated facilities, including benches, bike racks, drinking fountains, and exhibits, conservation of native plants, and supporting storm water drainage.

“We are pleased to learn of The Trust for Public Land’s outright purchase of 3.23 acres of a former railroad corridor in the Flats,” said Bob Brown, director of city planning. “This investment can serve a key role in better connecting Clevelanders to our waterfronts.”

“This is transformational. Through the heart of Cleveland it secures a bike/walking path connecting the towpath to the lake,” said Dan Moore, Chairman of the Wendy Park Foundation. “In my opinion, it will be the most difficult section in connecting the towpath to the State-planned connector that will run to Cincinnati. Imagine, riding your bike from Whiskey Island in Cleveland all the way to the Ohio River in Cincinnati!”

TPL Project Manager Dave Vasarhelyi, a Parma native and strong advocate for inner city parks who led the effort to purchase the property, said, “an important benefit of this corridor acquisition will be that children growing up in the Cleveland neighborhoods of Ohio City and Tremont, including the Cleveland Municipal Housing Authority property at Lakeview Terrace, and the new residential development in downtown, like Stonebridge condominiums, will be able to walk to the lake at Wendy Park.”

The entire $1.2 million purchase price was funded through the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.

TPL’s Ohio office has been supported in its work to bring parks to people in Cleveland by the Cleveland, Gund, and Murphy Foundations as well as by many individual donors.

Since it was founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land has helped protect nearly 3 million acres of land in 47 states. In Ohio, TPL has protected more than 10,000 acres valued at more than $86 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its mission to preserve land for people.

ParkWorks is a leader in creating and executing strategies that help make the Cleveland region a more competitive and desirable place through the development and programming of green and public spaces. ParkWorks convenes civic partners around projects that enhance the economic strength and quality of life of the Cleveland community through park rehabilitation, downtown beautification and green space development, recreation opportunities, civic engagement and stewardship.