Riverfront Properties Added to Towpath Trail in Cleveland

Ohio Canal Corridor and The Trust for Public Land announced today the acquisition of two adjacent properties along the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland to expand the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Together, the properties total more than 11 acres and will include 2,800 linear feet of the Towpath Trail, which will ultimately terminate at the future Canal Basin Park. Canal Basin will be a new 20-acre public park at the site where the Ohio Canal historically entered the Cuyahoga River.

The Ohio Canal Corridor (OCC) has been working for more than two decades to develop the Ohio & Erie Canalway, a federally designated National Heritage Area, which includes Cuyahoga County’s and Cleveland’s 10-mile portion of the Towpath Trail. These two properties just south of Canal Basin Park, including a former marina, have long been identified as a priority for the Towpath project.

“This acquisition sends a clear message to any who doubt the future completion of the Towpath Trail in Cleveland,” said Tim Donovan, Ohio Canal Corridor director. “That message: It’s happening. And it’s happening now.”

“The impact will reach beyond the Towpath Trail by serving as a catalyst for a number of public and private developments percolating in the northern river valley,” Donovan added. “As described and defined by the recently completed Canal Basin District Plan, the Towpath will inspire a number of bike and pedestrian connectors linking Canal Basin Park and the trunk of the Towpath to Ohio City, Gateway, Warehouse District, and the lakefront, both east and west.”

The Ohio office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, has been in and out of option to purchase the properties several times since 2007. The two properties along Scranton Road had been originally targeted for riverside residential development, but the landowners recently agreed to new options with TPL. TPL has purchased both properties in a combination of fees and easements. Easements on both properties are being donated to OCC with the remaining acreage conveyed to OCC. The easements will allow unobstructed access to the Cuyahoga River.

“TPL is proud to have been part of this critical addition to the Towpath Trail,” said Bill Carroll, Ohio state director for TPL. “The Towpath Trail, Canal Basin Park, and the Link to the Lake will ensure access for Cleveland families and visitors to the Cuyahoga River, Lake Erie, and natural areas like the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We are grateful to Ohio Canal Corridor, the city of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County for their continued efforts to fully realize the inter-connected trails and parks that will support Cleveland’s future growth.”

These properties will serve as the junction where the Towpath Trail will connect with two other branch trails: the Link to the Lake Trail, which TPL purchased for trail development in December 2009, connecting to Wendy Park on Lake Erie; and the Walworth Run Trail which will follow Scranton Road south to Train Avenue, continue along Train Avenue and intersect with Michael Zone Recreation where it will head north along West 65 Street to the lakefront and Edgewater Park.

Funding for the $4.8 million purchases was secured from the Clean Ohio Fund and from Cuyahoga County’s state capitol grant. Both properties were purchased for $2.4 million, and each purchase included $1.55 million from Clean Ohio and $850,000 from the county.

The easements on the two properties total 2.31 acres and include options for recreational trail improvements, including construction of a trail and associated facilities including benches, wayside exhibits, bike racks, and drinking fountains. The easements will also allow for conservation activities including a restored natural streambank treatment, native plantings, wetland development, and appropriate stormwater retention and drainage.

These acquisitions set the stage for the recently awarded $3 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds. The grants were awarded this year to a partnership that includes Ohio Canal Corridor, City of Cleveland, Cleveland Metroparks, The Cuyahoga County Engineer’s Office, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, The Trust for Public Land, and the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan.

Ohio Canal Corridor is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the development of the Ohio & Erie Canalway. These projects include the Towpath Trail and its connector trails, America’s Byway and Canal Basin Park. Programs include RiverSweep, Cycle Canalway, Towpath Ten-Ten, Towpath Marathon, and Scrooge’s Nite Out. ohiocanal.org

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 12,000 acres valued at more than $101 million. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its mission to preserve land for people. TPL’s operating support for these purchases includes private donations and grants from the Cleveland Foundation, George Gund Foundation, John P. Murphy Foundation, and the Maltz Family Foundation.