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New urban trail: 1.9 miles breaks ground in Tremont

The decades-long Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail extension project — an undertaking that connects 100 miles of paths from New Philadelphia to Cleveland’s lakefront — is one step closer to completion with the launch of the project’s stage three.

Stage three, which spans an urban stretch of 1.9 miles between the northern entrance to Steelyard Commons and Literary Avenue in Tremont, will not only serve as a greenspace buffer between the residential areas of Tremont and industrial areas of the valley below, but also offer paths and access to the rest of the Towpath Trail.
 
Additionally, the $18.5 million project will add 30 acres of park space.
 
“This section here is the one that will really be transformational,” says Canalway Partners executive director Tim Donovan. “This will heal the wounds of 100 years of industrial [damage].”
 
Canalway Partners and its athletic and environmental cleanup events like the Towpath Trilogy Race, Cycle Canalway and RiverSweep, in its 28th year, have been just some of the grassroots events used to raise awareness and funds for the Towpath Trail extension.

Further reading: Ten takeaways from the Stage Three announcement

Towpath Trail stage three


Donovan recalls the RiverSweep effort between 2007 and 2010 as a “tire brigade” that was dedicated to cleaning up tires dumped along the proposed trail site. “The motto of RiverSweep is ‘Clean up today where tomorrow we’ll play,’” he says. “We cleaned up 2,000 tires off the hillside that now hosts the Towpath Trail. We’ve fulfilled our promise to those people who participated in RiverSweep.”
 
While stage three construction got underway in February, Canalway Partners, along with officials from Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland., will host a groundbreaking at Clark Field this Saturday morning, April 22, at 9 a.m.
 
The Stage Three portion of the trail will have four connection points: at Holmden Avenue; the W. 11th connector over I-490; Tremont Pointe Apartments; and Jefferson Road. There will be three scenic overlooks at Literary Avenue with views of the downtown skyline; CMHA property off of W. 7th Street that offers views of the steelyard and railyards; and the bridge at the top of W. 11th Street and Clark Avenue with “tremendous views of the industrial valley,” says Donovan.
 
A new driveway and parking lot will connect to Clark Field from Clark Avenue. The two current entrances to the park will be blocked off and serve as connector trails.

Additional information: Stage Three concept images
 


“Tremont is the true winner,” says Donovan. “We will have six connecting points, and we expect heavy use.”
 
Other plans include a new picnic area and interpretive wayside exhibits depicting the neighborhood’s industrial history along the lighted trails. The 1.9 miles also includes three wetlands and new bioswales.
 
Funding for the anticipated project came from more than 10 sources, but Canalway Partners is credited with being the main fundraiser and is also responsible for the strategic plan. The trail is owned by the city, while Cuyahoga County is managing the project and the Cleveland Metroparks oversees the day-to-day maintenance and security.
 
While this phase of the project is expected to take more than a year to complete. Donovan expects it to wrap up in fall of 2018. He says this phase marks a critical move forward in the completion of the Towpath Trail.
 
“There are still a few [people] around, doubting it will ever get done,” Donovan says. “But this is an element in time. It’s historic.”
 
The groundbreaking celebration beings at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Clark Field, located off of W. 7th Street. Volunteers are invited to bring their own shovels. Reservations aren’t necessary, but you can email Ken Schneider at Canalway Partners to let him know you plan to dig in.
 
Donovan says the fact that the groundbreaking occurs on Earth Day is an appropriate coincidence. He adds that he  is working with Earth Day Coalition officials to give some groundbreaking attendees discount coupons to EarthFest, which will also be this Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

Further reading: 100 miles of the Towpath Trail — one step at a time and The Metroparks top 10 discoveries

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

 

April opening slated for first of 306 units at Gordon Square's Edison

Since 2015, residents in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood have been eying the transformation of 10 acres of land between W. 58th and W. 65th Streets — from the demolition of 300,000 square feet of vacant factories, to the land remediation to, finally, the phoenix that has risen: The Edison at Gordon Square at 6060 Father Caruso Drive.
 
Officials with developer NRP Group say the project is moving ahead at full steam and they are pre-leasing the luxury apartments and townhouses, with the first tenants moving in on April 21. NRP broke ground in the fall of 2015.

The first building is almost complete, with a second building due for completion in May and a third in July.
 
“We’re actually a bit ahead of schedule,” says NRP senior marketing manager Nancy Arnold. “The whole community should be delivered to us by the end of September. Leasing has been going extremely well. We’re about 26 percent pre-leased. Hopefully we’ll keep the momentum going.”
 
The complex consists of multiple buildings that house 306 units, including 180 one-bedroom apartments, 102 two-bedroom apartments, six mezzanine unites and 18 townhomes. All units include either garage or surface parking. One-bedroom apartments start at $980 a month and one and two bedroom units go up to $1,770, while townhome rents range from $2,575 up to $3,975 for a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhouse.
 
“I don’t think we’ve had too many people who have an issue with the price,” says Arnold. “Once they see everything they’re getting, they see value in the price.”
 
Each unit comes complete with stainless steel appliances, vinyl plank flooring, granite or quartz countertops and wood cabinets in either a dark stain or painted a blue-grey.
 
Other amenities include a heated, resort-style pool with fountains and cabanas. “It will feel like you’re in a five-star resort, not in Cleveland,” Arnold says.
 
The courtyard around the pool has fire pits, grills, a ping pong table and two outdoor televisions. In the fitness room, residents can take virtual Pilates, yoga or spinning classes with an on-demand video fitness system.
 
There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center, dry cleaning service, package concierge and a conference room equipped with Wi-Fi and a laptop.
 
“The fourth floor is open to rent for a minor fee,” says Arnold. “There’s a balcony with views of the lake and the downtown skyline, a fireplace and a kitchenette with a dining room table for up to 10. For those people who want to have a higher-end dinner party, that’s where they want to go.”
 
There is also a first floor event room with a kitchenette for smaller, less formal gatherings.
 
The advantages of living at the Edison extend beyond the complex itself. A bike trail connects the grounds to Edgewater Beach. The activities in and around Gordon Square are just a short walk away, not to mention the location’s proximity to Ohio City and Tremont.
 
“Truly, what we are doing is going to complete the community,” says Edison community manager Brittney Perez, adding that the Edison is geared toward young professionals and those attracted to an urban lifestyle. “People who use Edgewater, who walk up to the shops, are the people gravitating toward the [Gordon Square] community.”
 
The Edison should add to the growing allure of the neighborhood. “People are just starting to realize Gordon Square, and everything they’re doing to build up its name” says Arnold.
 
“We’re not trying to be an apartment community that takes over the neighborhood,” Arnold promises. “We don’t want to be the neighborhood, we want to be a part of the neighborhood.” She says they’ve already introduced themselves to other members of the Gordon Square community.
 
“We’ve been working with the merchants,” Arnold says. "We’re really working hard to build those relationships.”
 
Models are now open for tours. A two-bedroom model was designed by Cleveland designer Susie Frazier and a one-bedroom model designed by Akron-based David Hawkins. “We wanted to do a model that really represented the neighborhood and Cleveland,” says Arnold.
 
Edison management opened the leasing trailer on the grounds this week, and both Arnold and Perez invite potential tenants to stop by or contact them for more information or a tour.

Rickoff students to combine plants, community and the arts in new garden project

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s Office of Sustainability has named 2017 the Year of Vibrant Green Space, and the students at Andrew J. Rickoff School, are working with  Kulture Kids, the nonprofit organization that integrates the arts into traditional education approaches, to make sure the 30- by 85-foot area behind their school on E. 147 St. in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood is as vibrant as can be with a community garden and labyrinth.
 
For the past seven years the Kulture Kids group has worked with students at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District elementary school, using original arts-integrated programs based on STEM concepts to teach them about everything from science to transportation through the arts.
 
This year, Rickoff students will learn about the difference between living and nonliving things, plant lifecycles, the environment, and scientific processes while creating a school and community garden.
 
“Our mission is to integrate the arts into the academic curriculum,” explains Kulture Kids founding artistic director Robin Pease. “With the Year of Vibrant Green Space, I was thinking about what we were going to do, and we found this large green space.” The lesson then became clear.
 
“I thought of the science of plants native to Ohio,” she says. “We thought, there’s so much you can learn from a garden – responsibility, the life cycle.”
 
The three-year project will include flowers and vegetables, many grown from seed by the students in their classrooms. Plants will include sunflowers, bulbs, raspberries, carrots, lettuces, beets, tomatoes, beans, an herb spiral and milkweed to attract monarch butterflies.
 
Pease says they plan to share the garden’s bounty with the surrounding Mount Pleasant community. “Whatever food we grow, we hope to share with the neighborhood,” she says. “And flowers are pretty and smell good.”
 
Kulture Kids is relying on donations for many of the seeds, bulbs and plant material. DistinctCle is donating herb seeds to grow, as is The Ohio State University Extension Services, and organizers plan to take advantage of the Cleveland Public Library’s free heirloom seeds library. Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability have also provided in-kind support.
 
The design also includes an earthworm hatchery to promote healthy soil.
 
The centerpiece of the garden will a labyrinth-like paved trail. “This isn’t really a maze, there’s no trick to it,” Pease says of the labyrinth’s design. “It’s a path and you follow it to the center. I guess it’s a path to nowhere, but it’s a path for meditation, for thought and reflection.”
 
In fact, Pease sees the labyrinth as a potential alternative to detention at the school. “Kids get in trouble and get detention,” she explains. “We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if kids could instead go walk through the garden and meditate and think – to take a moment, to think, to take a breath.”
 
But before the path can be built, Kulture Kids needs both volunteer and materials support. The group is actively searching for someone to donate the paver stones and boulders as well as landscapers willing to work on the garden and path. The group can arrange for transporting larger stone donations, according to Kristan Rothman, Kulture Kids’ operations director
 
Pease points out that, as a 501(C) (3) nonprofit, their funds are limited, but donations are also tax-exempt. “We definitely need a lot of help to do this project,” she says. “We’re looking for a landscaper who will help guide us and we’re looking for donations from the community to make this happen.”
 
Kulture Kids has already received an $18,812 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture for physical aspects of the $53,000 project, says Rothman, as well as a $7,364 grant from the Ohio Arts Council and a $15,500 grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation for Kulture Kids’ in-classroom residency work.
 
The search for volunteers has turned into its own lesson to the Rickoff students. “We talked to the kids about 'what is a community',” explains Pease. “One kid said, ‘It’s me, but it’s also the principal and the janitor. It’s the gas station down the street.’ They saw that a community is all of us. We have to work together.”
 
To further the community presence, organizers are applying for a Toni Morrison bench. If approved, the $3,500 commemorative bench will become part of the Bench by the Road project, which represents significant periods and places in African American history.
 
Pease explains that the Mount Pleasant neighborhood has a rich history, with African American farmers settling in the community in 1893. In fact, Rickoff School is the site of an historical marker honoring Carl Stokes and Jim Brown that was spearheaded by Cleveland city councilman Zack Reed.

"We're hoping the garden will continue the settlement of Mount Pleasant,” says Pease.
 
The Rickoff Community Garden residency began in October with visual artist Wendy Mahon helping the students with the creation of herbariums. This month the students will begin working with a composer on an original song. Pease will then work with students in late February and early March to plant their seeds in the classroom, while dancer Desmond Davis will work with students to choreograph an original dance in March and early April.
 
The garden will officially launch on May 13, with a formal name and logo designed by the students.

Cavs' three-pointers grow into trees, partnerships

The Cleveland Cavaliers made 433 three-pointers at their home games during the regular season last year, which ended with an NBA Championship.

While those points were planted in the hoop, they're soon to bloom green courtesy of the Trees for Threes program, which is a partnership program between the Cavs, PwC, Holden Arboretum, Davey Tree and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC).
 
Last Wednesday, Oct. 19, 60 of what will eventually total 433 trees were planted around the Great Lakes Science Center.  The group of volunteers included Cavs legend Campy Russell as well as other representatives of the Cavs, partner organizations and students and teachers from Cleveland Metropolitan School District MC2 STEM High School.


 
“It was a beautiful fall day,” says Emily Bacha, Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s director of communications and marketing. “We had over 100 corporate volunteers and 100 students there. Not only were there beautiful, robust trees planted, it will create a beautiful canopy in downtown.”
 
Davey Tree donated the trees, which consist of eight different varieties – ranging from Japanese tree lilacs and kousa dogwoods to maples, white oaks and elms.
 
Now in its second year, the Trees for Threes program helps restore Cleveland’s dwindling tree canopy.


 
“The City of Cleveland’s tree canopy stands at just 19 percent – only one quarter of the tree canopy we could see across our neighborhoods,” explains Bacha. “From intercepting rainwater to removing air pollution to providing essential wildlife habitat, trees are a critical part of our infrastructure.”
 
Bacha adds that trees also improve public health and reduce stress. “Cleveland can once again thrive as the Forest City, but it will take a true community effort to reforest our neighborhoods,” she says. The addition of the 433 trees will have a economic benefit of $1.56 million benefit over the next 40 years.
 
WRLC urban forestry and natural resources manager Colby Sattler and Holden Arboretum’s community forester Char Clink worked with the MC2 STEM students earlier this year regarding the importance of trees for a healthy ecosystem – educating them about storm water absorption, tree canopies and the oxygen they produce.
 
“It’s really exciting to bring this to the high school level and train future botanists and arborists,” says Bacha, who adds that Campy Russell took the time to interact with the students, even coaching some of them. “It was really great to see him interacting.”
 
On Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m., an additional 273 saplings will be distributed to guests who attend the screening of the film Tiny Giants at the Great Lakes Science Center’s new state-of-the-art digital theater. 

Next spring, 100 more trees will be distributed through WRLC’s Reforest Our City grant program. Fourteen organizations – many of them community development corporations – benefit from the program.

New Perkins Wildlife Center is a fitting home for native rescue animals, joy for visitors

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s (CMNH) Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center and Woods Garden, presented by KeyBank is a refuge for the region’s native animals and plant life, as well as the many visitors who are expected to come through.
 
Construction began on the center in June 2015, after KeyBank made a $2 million sponsorship donation to the project. The center opened on Labor Day weekend. It replaces the old Perkins Wildlife Center, which was located on the west side the museum's campus. The new two-acre center overlooks Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
 
“It’s an interpretive landscape,” says Harvey Webster, CMNH director of wildlife resources. “We want to bring people together with plants and animals that are native now to the region or were once native. What we’re trying to do is create a dynamic, immersive educational experience.”
 
The center has a meandering, elevated walk way – portions of which are made from repurposed black locust wood salvaged from the trees on the site that were damaged by lightning or dying. It winds throughout the interactive center, past everything from songbirds, sand cranes and owls to fox, bobcats, raccoons and coyotes. Even the otters, Lucy and Linus, splash and play among turtles, fish and frogs in a tank with a 50-foot acrylic wall that allows visitors to watch them under water.


 
“It’s a zoo of native wildlife and native plants in the museum,” says Webster. “It’s a dramatic landing, two-and-a-half stories high". The elevated walkway snakes west, bordering the property, soaring over MLK Boulevard and the Doan Brook Watershed. ”It’s an interesting topography to be appreciated,” he adds.
 
There are 48 species totaling more than 100 individual animals living in Perkins. Trees include beech, maple and oaks. The center will also receive American chestnut saplings, a species that has been almost demolished in this region, from the American Chestnut Foundation. The shrub swamps and wetland garden areas feature plant species native to Ohio as well.
 
There are 11 species of mammals, including bobcats, foxes, coyotes, river otters, porcupines and groundhogs. There are 24 species of birds, including songbirds, eagles, falcons, owls and other birds of prey; five species of reptiles; five species of amphibians; and five species of frogs.
 
While the species each have their own unique habitats for visitors to observe, the humans can also serve as observation subjects for many of the animals. The Bobcats, coyotes, red and grey foxes, porcupines and raccoons all have their own elevated runs along the path – over the visitors’ heads, so they can watch the people passing and indulge their own curiosity.
 
Orion the bald eagleAlong the path are “parallel play areas,” where visitors can mimic activities the animals do. For instance, visitors are challenged to “hop like a bobcat,” where a 10-foot span is marked on the path to indicate the distance a bobcat can go in just one leap. In another area, visitors are encourage to “perch like a crow” on posts of varying heights.
 
“You can emulate the animal and hopefully the animal will emulate you,” says Webster. “It’s another way to create a relationship between you and the animals.”
 
Songbirds fly through the tree canopy in an aviary, while a bald eagle named Orion and a golden eagle named Midas perch next to each other for comparison. Midas flew into high tension wires while in the wild and is blind in one eye.
 
In fact, all of the animals in the Perkins Wildlife Center come from either rescue or rehabilitation centers. Niles and Daphne, a pair of sandhill cranes, were found picking bugs out of radiator grills at a highway truck stop. "The sandhill cranes are a conservation success story,” says Webster.
 
Three of the coyotes – Tex, Red and Ember – came to Perkins after their mother was hit by a car on a Texas highway. A son of a veterinarian stopped and delivered the pups on the side of the road. A fourth coyote, Charcoal, lives separately. She was saved from a wildfire.
 
Both of the great horned owls, Tamarack and Mama have permanent eye injuries. Tamarack was hit by a car and Mama was affected by West Nile Virus in 2002, leaving her with an inability to judge distances correctly.

One of the great horned owls on display at the center
 
Linus the otter was caught in a Louisiana trap seven years ago. Both Linus and Lucy are estimated to be about 18 years old, with a life expectancy of 25.
 
Many of the animals have preschool play toys, such as picnic tables and slides, donated by Streetsboro-based toy manufacturer Step 2. The big plastic toys help provide enrichment activities to the animals. Some species have blankets and clothing in their living areas that carry other animals’ scents, which also stimulates them.


 
The Perkins Wildlife Center is part of phase one of the museum’s Centennial transformation project, which will be completed for its 100-year anniversary in 2020. The multiyear project is designed to create powerful and engaging experiences that will capitalize on the resources of the museum.
 
The entire exhibit was designed by New York-based Thinc Design, while Osborn Engineering, AECOM, general contractor Panzica/Gilbane and Project Management Consultants also worked on the project.
 
Approximately 135 people worked on the construction team. Eight museum employees tend to the center on a daily basis.
 
Tickets to the Perkins Wildlife Center are free with museum admission.

Big dreams start to become reality for three miles of elevated urban trail

Plans for the Red Line Greenway (RLG), a three-mile elevated linear park spanning Cleveland’s west side and downtown, originated as a pie-in-the-sky dream more than 40 years ago by Rotary Club of Cleveland member Stan Adams and two other founders. Adams pursed the vision until his 92nd birthday in 2012.
 
Now thanks to the tireless efforts of a hard-working team led by Lennie Stover, founder and project coordinator of the Red Line Greenway project and Rotary member, the project is gaining momentum and is shaping up to rival, or better, the likes of  New York City’s High Line, Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail and other regional rail-trail projects.
 
"Nationwide, we’re in middle of a trail building boom and we're behind most major U.S. cities in trail development,” says Stover, “but we’re quickly gaining."
 
When the project takes off in earnest in 2019, the Red Line Greenway will be a multi-purpose path along the RTA red line, stretching from Zone Recreation Center at W. 55rd Street and Lorain Avenue, across the Cuyahoga River Viaduct in the Flats into downtown at the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse at Superior Avenue and Huron Road.

"I feel like I have a masters’ degree in trails," says Stover. "Trails are now seen as the arts and cultural architectural infrastructure for getting places.”
 
The trail covers 60 acres and 95 feet of the Cuyahoga River while connecting eight Cleveland neighborhoods to within two blocks of Public Square.

“Trails don’t discriminate, they don’t care if you wear shoes or not,” says Stover, pointing out that the RLG will serve some 57,000 locals, 20,000 of whom are under age 19. “People think trails and they think walking, running and biking, but there’s also meandering, wandering and just seeing who’s out.”
 
With the July 26 announcement of the Cleveland Metroparks’ $7.95 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for creating and improving bike and pedestrian trails along Cleveland’s waterfront, the Metroparks has committed $4 million to the RLG and the project took a few more steps toward its $6.1 million goal.
 
Other collaborative partners in the project include RTA, LAND studio, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Cleveland Leadership Center, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and countless volunteers.
 
It’s a good problem to have – too many volunteers,” quips Stover. “We had 500 volunteers last year, 400 were first-time visitors. This year we’ve have 700, with 500 being first-timers.”
 
The RLG has hosted more than a dozen corporate and community groups, and volunteers over the past year for Beautification Days.
 
Those volunteers have cleaned up trash and debris along the property, including 100 tons of steel – collected mostly by hand, Stover says – that netted the group $55,000 in scrap sales.
 
Those volunteers have ensured the RLG’s progress. “What we have right now is very close to a world-class trail, but we have higher expectations,” says Stover. “We’re on the cutting edge.”
 
Other organizations have helped out with goods and services. Petitti Garden Center donated 1,100 hydrangeas that were planted along the RLG. Forest City Tree Protection has consistently provided pruning and tree protection services, while MTD Products donated a riding mower.
 
But the RLG still needs more help. “I need [more] loyal people, marketing people, fundraising people,” says Stover, adding that finding people who know how to operate equipment is yet another challenge.
 
Nonetheless, the team never stops looking toward the future. Phases one and two should be done in a year to 18 months after construction starts, says Stover, while phase three will depend on an engineering study and additional funding.
 
In the meantime, the team has been busy building a new sandstone entrance to the RLG and clearing a view at the top of Franklin Avenue between Ohio City and Duck Island, where organizers plan to hold a fundraiser next May 20.

“We have a great location and we’re persistent as hell,” says Stover.
 

RNC is just the beginning for larger conventions, tourism in CLE

The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee held a series of free events over this past weekend as one big thank you party for the volunteers and residents who made the RNC a success two weeks ago.

From the Cleveland Orchestra making its return to the newly-renovated Public Square on Friday night, fireworks and family-oriented activities to a party on Saturday afternoon and free admission all weekend to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Indians’ three-game home series (sweep!) against Oakland, the committee wanted to celebrate the city and its residents’ efforts, says Destination Cleveland’s senior communication manager Jennifer Kramer.
 
“With an event of this magnitude, it’s all attributed to the people,” Kramer says of the volunteers, business people and residents who contributed to the RNC’s success. “And for the people who weren’t able to come down or stayed away, this was time to take pride in the city and see what we were able to do.”
 
More than 3,000 volunteers worked 8,400 shifts during the week of the RNC, as hotel and airport greeters and wayfinders at pedestrian-heavy intersections. They made guest feel welcome, pointed them in the right direction and even saw them off at the airport after the RNC.
 
But while the RNC is probably the largest convention Cleveland will ever host, officials are hoping that it is just the springboard the city needs to launch the convention and tourism industry.
 
"This is not the end," says Kramer. "It is the beginning of many, many more things to come.”
 
Kramer says tourism in the area has been on the rise – increasing four to five percent each year over the last five years – and those numbers are expected to continue upward. “The narrative is changing,” she says. “It’s interesting to see people’s perceptions change.”

RNC Thank You Party in Public Square
 
In fact, feedback was all positive from the 750 guests who came through the Visitors Center, and staff fielded phone calls from potential future visitors who had seen Cleveland highlighted in the convention coverage. “It was great to hear other people say how great the city is,” says Kramer.
 
Convention business is expected to pick up after a successful RNC as well. “In 2013 we were just coming into the convention world,” says Kramer. “We’ve been able to make sure heads turn, not just from the business perspective but in the leisure perspective too.”
 
Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall’s vice president of marketing and communications also sees the RNC as just a launching point for the city’s convention and tourism business.
 
“People close to the RNC said it wasn’t about one week, it was about the long-term,” Mesek explains. “It was about getting people to feel it, experience the city.”
 
Mesek says high profile events like the RNC, as well as the 2016 Transplant Games, the Gay Games in 2014 and the National Senior Games in 2013, have all been opportunities to show off Cleveland’s assets.
 
“It’s about showing them what we have and they walk away [as Cleveland] ambassadors,” Mesek says.
 
The Rock Hall typically gets an average of 2,500 guests a day in July, says Mesek, adding that number jumped to an average of 4,000 people a day during the RNC.
 
Part of the increase was due to the free admission, sponsored by AT&T, to draw both visitors and locals to the museum.
 
“We wanted to make it easy for anyone in town for the RNC – media, delegates, protestors – and who didn’t have a lot of time but just wanted to explore it,” he says. “We wanted to make it easy for locals too, although not a lot of locals took advantage of it. But some did.”
 
July, says Mesek, was all about changing perceptions. “So many people outside of Cleveland either have an old perception or a neutral perception of the city,” he says. “We just have to get them here. We’re confident that after visiting the museum they’re walk away with a positive perception.”
 
Mesek adds that an increase in tourism to the area means more jobs. “It brings in out of town dollars,” he points out. “They sleep in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and visit our museums. And that creates jobs.” 

Hundreds volunteer, build new Fairfax Playspace

When the first intergenerational housing development in Ohio was built in 2014, Griot Village’s 40 units became a safe place in the Fairfax neighborhood for adults aged 55 and older to raise the minor children of whom they had custody.
 
Griot Village has been a success. However, there was one thing missing from the complex: A place for play.
 
To that end, last week, 249 volunteers from Morgan Stanley, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC), Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), KaBOOM!, and community members from area construction companies, universities and churches joined forces to build a playground at Griot Village.
 
“It was awesome,” says Denise VanLeer, executive director of FRDC. “We always wanted to add a play space and garden area.”
 
The volunteers spent time ahead of the build cutting wood and getting everything ready, says VanLeer. Representatives from Whiting-Turner, Lake Erie Electric, Donley’s Construction and Ozanne Construction prepped the lot by removing tree stumps and old fencing and grading and leveling the lot.
 
The volunteers gathered early Wednesday morning to begin construction on "Playspace," a structure that was designed by the kids in Griot Village.
 
“We had a design day in May,” explains VanLeer. “They drew pictures of what they wanted to see there. Of course, they wanted a lot of stuff we couldn’t put in, but they were so excited.”
 
In addition to the brightly-colored equipment in purple, yellow and lime green, the group also installed picnic tables, planters, soccer goals and a rolling, oversized Connect Four game. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank donated vegetable plants for the garden.
 
The whole project, which is wheelchair accessible, was constructed on four housing lots that were specifically reserved for a play area. “We just knew we wanted to transform these lots,” says VanLeer.
 
The Cleveland Clinic, the Food Bank and FRDC made sure everyone was fed during the process.
 
While the structure had to sit for three days to let the concrete base set, the kids were able to get a preview throughout the planning, prep work and construction. “They were so excited, they could peek in through the fence,” says VanLeer.  
 
The crew was so enthusiastic about the work they were doing that they finished the playground an hour early. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held a few minutes before 2 p.m.
 
“It was such an awesome experience,” says VanLeer. “We got there in the morning and you have this vacant lot and you’re done by 1:30.

Morgan Stanley was the national sponsor for the project, while the Cleveland Clinic was the local supporter.

New Public Square recalls Cleveland's historic vision with fresh modern feel

As the refurbished statues of Moses Cleaveland and 1901 mayor Tom Johnson overlook Public Square, one would think that the pair would be impressed with the modern transformation of the plaza that originally served as a common pasture for livestock and later a grid for moving from point A to point B within downtown’s epicenter.
 
Almost complete, the fences that have been hiding Public Square since renovations began in March 2015 will soon come down and a new six-acre green space will be unveiled before the Republican National Convention begins July 18.
 
But the revitalization was not solely for the sake of the convention, says Nora Romanoff, senior project director for LAND studio and part of the Group Plan Commission charged with transforming the heart of Cleveland’s downtown.
 
“We didn’t just do it for the RNC,” says Romanoff. “We did it for Cleveland.”
 
The plan for a new Public Square has been years in the making. LAND studio initiated a conversation about it back in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2010 that officials started to move forward on the $37 million project.
 
The view from the north-east corner of Public Square in 2011
The view from the north-east corner of Public Square today
 
“At the time, the Square was not pedestrian friendly and it was hardly a destination,” recalls Romanoff. “It wasn't until 2010, when investment in the city and the region started to ramp up, that the current process really started to move.”
 
Mayor Frank Jackson convened the Group Plan Commission in 2010 for the prime objective of improving the city’s public spaces and leveraging those investments. “When the RNC was announced, the project was well positioned to really ramp up,” says Romanoff.
 
The Group Plan hired New York-based landscape architect and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to create a new Public Square that respects both the vision of the Group Plan of 1903 while creating a modern-day public space that focuses on people. The result is a pedestrian-friendly sprawling city center that caters to just about every lifestyle. Since 2015, Veronica Rivera, project manager and an associate with JCFO, has been living downtown just steps from the site to oversee the project’s transformation.
 
“The goal of [the project] was to re-invigorate the historic center of Cleveland - a center point that held so much untapped potential,” Rivera explains. “To achieve this, we set out to connect what used to be four separate under-used quadrants into a unified whole to truly capitalize on the space available.”

Aerial view of Public Square, courtesy of LAND Studio
 
Rivera describes the Square’s three new components.
 
--The perimeter gardens run along the outside of the square and features 30 species of grasses and perennials and more than 12 types of shrubs and flowering trees such as dogwood and Eastern redbud. “In the future it will only get better,” Rivera says, referring to the fact that the new plantings will mature, grow and bloom. “There’s always something to see, always different colors.”
 
--Geometry figured into the ribbon promenade, designated the Key Bank Promenade on account of the KeyBank Foundation’s $4 million grant – the largest gift in its history. “Circulation and desired diagonal connections where major drivers of the geometry,” Rivera says. “Generating the ribbon promenade served as a strong framework for the design of the square.”
 
The promenade is made up of granite cobblestones in an infinite arcing pattern that winds throughout the square, lined by a curving and escalating wall. “The walls in Public Square are sculptural features that are used to articulate the otherwise flat six-acre park,” explains Rivera. “The walls form numerous elements such as  lounge chairs, overlooks and planting beds, and are designed to make your eye move along the promenade – slowly unveiling the different areas of the park.”
 
--The third component makes up the civic spaces, which include the event lawn, or the Gund Foundation Green, named for that foundation’s $5 million grant, with an overlook hill and a concert hill. The civic plaza, or the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Plaza, named after the $8 million grantor, is home to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and has a café that will serve beer and wine.
 
Adjacent to the café tables is a water feature with a one-quarter-inch deep mirror pool that reflects the city skyline. “At the north edge is a jet crescent with 117 arcing jets that dance and invite visitors to interact with the feature,” says Rivera. “Each jet is individually lit, which creates a great visual center point in the plaza every evening.”
 
The event lawn civic space The design and its components give each area a unique feel. “My favorite aspect is our play with topography and the geometry of planters, seating and walls as a manner to achieve a balance between grand civic spaces, and intimate gardens and paths,” says Rivera.
 
Other grants that financed the renovation include $2.5 million from the Mandel Foundation and $3 million from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).
 
Part of the plan involved a $7 million investment in a green infrastructure system that will process up to three million gallons of storm water a year that is collected in a 50,000-gallon chamber under the square.
 
“The water collection is treated and pumped from the tank to a series of pipes that water the plantings,” explains Romanoff. “In the wintertime that captured water is pushed to the sandy soils below grade.”
 
Previously, Public Square was located above a tangle of ducts and wiring for more than 20 utility companies. About $13 million was spent merging and relocating those works. “It looked like a bowl of spaghetti,” recalls Romanoff. “We did the utility work primarily because there was an opportunity with the demolition of the old Square to access and upgrade utilities below. This meant improved infrastructure in the duct banks below with better constructed and better located manholes for future access.”
 
Accommodating the utilities and the water treatment systems together was fascinating to Rivera. “I think the overlap between systems is most interesting to me,” she says. “We have such large infrastructure below – massive utilities, as well as complex water harvesting systems – yet we managed to integrate all of these components into the design. It was an interesting juxtaposition of systems to coordinate and detail.

The refurbished statue of 1901 mayor Tom Johnson now sits on the north center section of the square
 
Portions of Ontario Street are now part of the plaza, and the section of Superior Avenue that used to intersect the square has been reduced from 77 to 48 feet wide and will only be accessible to busses and bicyclists. Drivers will have to navigate around the square to continue east or west on Superior.
 
Donley’s Construction is the general contractor on the project, although Romanoff says the company hired multiple subcontractors.
 
While officials have not yet released the official opening date of Public Square, Romanoff promises a nice rollout of events in the near future. Additionally, the Cleveland Orchestra will return to the Square on Friday, July 29.
 
As Rivera wraps up her year-long stay in Cleveland, she says she is pleased with the completed plaza and looks forward to people putting it to good use. “My hope is for them to embrace it, make it theirs – that they fall in love with it and see the great work that so many Cleveland hands put into building this park for them,” she says.
 
“I can’t wait to come back and be completely surprised when people are using it in ways I could not have foreseen,” she adds. “That would be the best of all. I hope people use it, for their day-to-day [lives] – not only when events occur, but on their lunch breaks, to walk the dog in the evening, or bring the children to play. I want to be surprised.”
 
Romanof expressed pride in the team that brought the project to fruition and is amazed by the spectacular support the city has shown for the project.
 
“This project is a labor of love on every level,” she says. “It was a huge, civic movement that acknowledged that Cleveland deserves a very special place. While I was involved from the beginning, I am still stunned by the beauty of the Square each time I am there. I cannot wait for others to feel the same thing."

Roof at CIA's Gund Building set to transform into urban "meadow"

In just a few weeks, the roof of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s (CIA) George Gund Building will be in full bloom will rows of sedum covering 3,364 square feet, or half, of the 6,800-square-foot rooftop.
 
The roof was originally designed to be a green roof system, explains CIA director of facilities and safety Joe Ferritto, but the system was cut from the budget during the 2015 completion of the building. The garden got the green light this year after a successful $19,000 fundraising campaign.
 
The garden was designed by Cleveland-based Rooftop Green, which has a patented system for planting directly on a roof. “They gave us a proposal for a basic green system and tray system,” says Ferritto. “The trays are produced out of recycled water bottles to create a cellular material that is very dense and absorbs water.”
 
The trays, which each measure about 24 inches by 18 inches, are filled with dirt and sedum seeds and then covered with a poly netting material.  
 
Five members of the maintenance team spent three days last week hauling 38 palettes – with each palette holding 40 trays of sedum -- up to the roof via the service elevator. Half of the sedum, planted toward the back of the garden, will grow to be about 14 inches tall, while the front of the garden will have 8-inch tall plants.
 
“The guys thought it was pretty interesting when we put this up,” says Ferritto. “We had a carpenter, a painter, a HVAC guy and an electrician all hauling that stuff up there. It was kind of an all-hands-on-deck experience.”
 
Ferritto is keeping the garden off limits until the sedum has bloomed in about a month. When he does open it, the roof will be accessible only to students and faculty and by appointment. In the meantime, the garden can be admired through the window wall on the building’s third floor and CIA students in the adjacent biomedical arts department have a spectacular view.
 
“Once it hits 60 degrees we should see some seed pollination, then it’s a four to five week growth time. It looks very white right now," he says, adding that the trays will soon fill with color, mostly green. "It will look like a meadow.”
 
The whole rooftop garden system provides additional points toward achieving LEED certification for the building. “I’ve heard claims that it can increase the life of a roof by 50 to 100 percent, but studies are still being done on that,” he says. “There’s increased insulation the green roof provides, and [there is] reduced UV that [can] beat up the roof system.”
 
Now that the landscaping in complete, Ferritto has his eye on the other half of the roof. He says plans for hardscaping for the remaining 3,400 square feet include pavers, furniture and a canopy. “Once we get the hardscaping piece done, there have been discussions on hosting events or making studio space there,” he says. 

The Cleveland Institute of Art is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.

Hemlock Trail set to make all the right connections

A multi-purpose trail planned for the City of Independence will serve as a connecting point with the Towpath Trail while also catalyzing the region economically, planners say.

Construction of Hemlock Trail is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017 following a $500,000 grant the project received from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Clean Ohio Trails fund. The money will cover a portion of the venture while Independence officials make plans to raise the remaining $1.1 million, says city engineer Donald Ramm.

Partner group West Creek Conservancy, which helped with the grant effort, has been approaching trail advocates for single donations. Meanwhile, the city will call on local foundations to garner additional dollars, says Ramm.

Urgency is the watchword moving forward, as the ODNR grant must be used within 18 months of signing. Engineering for the $3.4 million path began last year and should be completed by the end of 2016. Construction bidding will commence early next year, with work starting in spring 2017. If all goes as planned, the trail will open to the public in 2018.

When complete, the 1.7-mile Hemlock Trail will begin at the intersection of Brecksville Road and Selig Drive, ending  at the Towpath Trail connection on Canal Road in Valley View.  That linkage is significant for a population base that currently has no easy means of accessing the iconic 85-mile track, Ramm says.

"We're excited about it," he says. "Hemlock Trail will be a major link for our residents to get from the center of town to Towpath Trail."

The 10-foot-wide path, designed to cross through private, industrial and national park properties, will have room for both bikers and joggers. Four or five bridges will be built along the trail's snake-like course, along with space for up to 15 parking spots.

Giving Independence residents a new place to walk, run and bike can have a positive impact on local economic development as well, believe supporters. Officials view Hemlock Trail as one piece of an amenities package that can attract people from outside the region and bolster a downtown redevelopment plan now in the preliminary planning stage.

"As a community asset, the path is going to be significant to the city," says Ramm. 

New bike lanes to amp up Slavic Village connectivity

Road work is a common enough sight in Cleveland, but a large-scale re-paving project on Warner Road in Slavic Village can also be part of an overarching effort to make the neighborhood a safe, attractive and welcoming place to live, maintain those on the ground.

Work on the Warner Road Rehabilitation Project began early last week. Approximately one mile of the residential street will be re-surfaced and re-striped. Other improvements include ADA-compliant ramps and new pavement markings. Construction cost for the nearly year-long project is slated at $2.4 million.  

In the short term, one lane of traffic southbound will be maintained between Grand Division and Broadway Avenues. Northbound traffic will be detoured east along Grand Division Avenue then north along Turney Road.

It's when the project is finished in December 2016 that things get exciting, says Chris Alvarado, executive director of Slavic Village Development, a nonprofit community development corporation serving the North and South Broadway neighborhoods. Six-foot-wide bike lanes will replace diagonal parking spots on both sides of the street, stretching from the entrance of the Mill Creek Falls reservation to Grand Division Avenue on the border of Garfield Heights.

The new bike lanes will create a safe pedestrian passageway, as existing parking spaces are often used as though traffic areas by drivers, says Alvarado. Additionally, installation of much-needed biking options is taking place as strategic efforts, like Mill Creek Trail, aim to connect Cleveland via bike and walking paths.

To that end, Slavic Village is currently working with the City of Cleveland on linking its forthcoming bike lanes to the end of the Morgana Run Trail, a two-mile bicycling and walking path extending from E. 49th Street to Jones Road near Broadway Avenue.

Eventually, the Warner Road bike trail can be a single link in a five-mile biking and pedestrian access chain that runs all the way downtown, notes Alvarado. It can also serve as an amenity that helps draw new residents to the community.

"We pride ourselves on being an active neighborhood where walking, biking and exercise is part of who we are," Alvarado says.

Ultimately, the refurbished road can be part of a brighter future for a community trying to rebound, adds the development group official.

"It's a way to bring in new neighbors and make [Slavic Village] attractive for the people who live here," says Alvarado.

Revisiting Cleveland's whales after hurricane damage repair

It was about three months after Hurricane Sandy blew through town when Steve Tucky, Wyland Ambassador for Ohio and the Great Lakes region, was driving along the East Shoreway and noticed that the giant whale mural to which we've all become accustomed was in the dark: the array of lights normally illuminating it had apparently been damaged by the notorious October 2012 hurricane.
 
"I'm kind of attached to it," says Tucky of the "Song of the Whales" mural, also known as a Wyland Whale Wall. Additional inspection revealed that a section of the painted panels had apparently blown off the building as well. Tucky contacted the city and Cleveland Public Power in order to get the repairs in motion.
 
It took more than two years and a notable amount of red tape, but 49 new painted panels are now in place and the lighting has been restored. Completed last fall, the work cost $50,000.
 
"They did get it fixed," says Tucky, noting that the new panels do not replicate the original artwork, but are simply painted a solid sky blue (the damaged section depicted clouds). "It kind of blends in," he says. "You don't really notice unless you really look at it."
 
As an ambassador, Tucky advocates for the Wyland Foundation, which was founded by artist and environmentalist Robert Wyland in 1993 and is dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s oceans, waterways, and marine life. The foundation fosters environmental awareness through education, public art, and community events. To that end, Tucky is active with campaigns and organizations such as Sustainable Cleveland 2019 and the West Creek Conservancy.
 
To be sure, most of today's Clevelanders pass by "Song of the Whales" with little knowledge of it. Hence, Fresh Water celebrates this subtle repair with the following must-know Cleveland Whale Wall facts:
 
- Cleveland Mayor Michael White dedicated Wyland's "Song of the Whales" on Oct. 6, 1997.
 
- "Song of the Whales" was one of 100 aquatic murals Wyland painted over a 27-year period.
 
- Wyland's last such mural, "Hands Across the Oceans," was dedicated in July 2008 in Beijing, China, ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
 
- Wyland painted "Song of the Whales" free hand – without the aid of any templates – inside of a few days. A basket crane provided access and volunteers helped out with paint mixing and clean up. "I was there for that," recalls Tucky.
 
- Sherwin Williams donated more than 160 gallons of paint and primer for the project.
 
- The mural measures 240- by 88-feet.
 
- Per the Oct. 4, 1997 Plain Dealer, the mural depicts, "a humpback cow, calf and 'escort' male, plus another male challenging the first for the honor of escorting the female."
 
- The original mural tour was dedicated to Jacques Cousteau and was aimed at bringing awareness to the earth's aquatic systems and their connectivity. "It all ties in," says Tucky. "The Great Lakes flow into the ocean."
 
- The green space adjacent to "Song of the Whales" is a public park complete with a walkway and benches. While it has no name, "some people fish over there," says Tucky of the space.
 
Considering approximately 24 of the Wyland Whale Wall murals are listed as "extinct" by Wikipedia, meaning they are "no longer accessible" and "may have been covered, destroyed, or significantly altered" and a handful of others are noted as tiled, partially covered or no longer visible, that the Cleveland mural endures so vividly should inflate northeast Ohioans with renewed pride the next time they pass it.
 
Moreover, the gentle giants depicted in "Song of the Whales" quietly urge us to live locally and think globally. After all, the water flowing in our delicate river and lake that we often take for granted eventually end up amid whales and dolphins and flying fish.

Winter is coming and so is fresh local produce and permaculture from the urban greenhouses of CGP

Community Greenhouse Partners (CGP), an urban greenhouse and farm, is about to fly in the face of winter with fresh produce and an all-season teaching venue for an array of people,including some of the city's most disadvantaged youths.

This beacon of all things organic, sustainable and green will also continue to sell their produce at affordable prices even as the snow flies.
 
"We happily sell out the back door," says CGP executive director Timothy Smith, inviting anyone and everyone to visit this unique farm in the middle of the city at 6527 Superior Road. "Come and see. Come and help us harvest your greens."

Hours are between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the week. The organization also sets up shop every Saturday at Coit Road Farmers' Market and on Wednesdays from June through September at Gordon Square Market.
 
The greenhouse will operate through the winter courtesy of a compost heater, designed and built by engineering students from Cleveland State University (and funded by Virtec Enterprises). The system heats the farm's hydroponic water system to a balmy 70 degrees, keeping the roots of the plants warm even in winter.

Current crops include lettuce, kale, arugula, root crops and CGP's specialty, sunflower microgreens, which include the first stem and leaf of the sunflower plant.  
 
"They are nutty and sweet and crunchy," says Smith. "They taste a little bit like a sunflower seed. Some people say they taste like green beans or asparagus." He recommends them raw in a salad, as a sandwich topper or a salsa add-in. "I tend to sauté a handful of them in a little bit of butter and add my eggs."
 
Touting the plant's nutritional value, Smith tags protein, B vitamins, folic acid and antioxidants. "They're a superfood that's healthier than kale," he says of the tender greens. "We sell lots of them."
 
The group also offers up handmade value-added items such as apple jelly, herbed vinegars and cherry tomato chutney, which Smith describes as sweet and spicy hot. "It is delicious."
 
The CGP site was formerly a Catholic Church campus. Working the farm are any number of revolving volunteers and seven interns who live in what used to be the rectory, which was originally a farmhouse built in 1865. The interns get room and partial board in exchange for 20 hours of work per week. The live-in staff changes, with candidates coming from schools, internship programs and the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program, which links international volunteers with organic farmers and growers. Working visitors of CGP have come from New Zealand, France, Peru, England and Germany.
 
While the organization is all about outreach and has engaged in educational and volunteer partnerships with Case Western Reserve University, Hawken School and an array of interested parties and downtown residents, CGP's work with students from the Saint Francis Elementary School truly exemplifies Smith's goal of teaching permaculture -- a hands-on learning approach to the ethical care of people and the planet that creates a "fair share" environment.  
 
The Saint Francis partnership starts aptly enough in the school's cafeteria with microgreen salads purchased from CGP once a month for student lunches.
 
"They love them," reports Smith of the students' reactions to the monthly salad delivery, which started in September. "They tear into them. They're so excited when we bring them in."
 
The kids also have monthly science classes at the farm, where they learn all about urban farming with hands-on instruction on topics such as composting, microgreen planting, bed preparation and harvesting crops like green beans.
 
Sometimes, however, just showing kids where vegetables come from – out of the ground - sparks an epiphany.
 
"You can see them make the connection: this is where (food) comes from. The light bulb goes on," says Smith. "It's remarkable just to watch them," he adds, noting that the Saint Francis students are largely disadvantaged.
 
"They're really smart and they want to learn," says Smith. "They're hungry for information and they're hungry for good food."
 
Community Greenhouse Partners is soliciting donations for an expansion that will include doubling the organization's greenhouse space from approximately 1,250 to 2,500 square feet and transforming CGP's growing system from hydroponic to aquaponic, which will utilize fish as living natural fertilizers. Click here to help the urban farm meet its $12,000 goal.
 

Urban section of Towpath Trail inches closer to completion with funding for pedestrian bridge

As the ever-popular Towpath Trail continues to wind its way north from Harvard Avenue to Lake Erie, no matter how small each benchmark is, it represents a victory in the expansive $43 million project, which is unfurling amid four complex stages.
 
Last month, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) delivered yet another win when it awarded the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works a $432,222 Clean Ohio Trails grant for a small but important component of the project: A prefabricated 150-foot bridge that will cross traverse West 7th Street in Tremont. The funds are part of $6.1 million in grants awarded to 19 projects around the state through the Clean Ohio Trails Fund, which improves outdoor recreation opportunities and aims to protect and connect Ohio's natural and urban spaces.
 
Currently dubbed the "Tremont Pointe Bridge," the new West 7th Street bridge is part of the $17.5 million Stage 3 portion of the trail. Aesthetically speaking, the prefabricated bridge will be similar to any number of pedestrian bridges in and around area parks, including two adjacent to the Scranton Flats and one traversing Euclid Creek in the Metroparks' Euclid Creek Reservation.
 
Further reading: Ten Takeaways from the ongoing Towpath Trail development.
 
Tim Donovan, executive director of Canalway Partners describes the route of Stage 3: "The trail will connect with the trail that's already established at Steelyard and will make its way north to Literary Avenue in Tremont." Of scheduling he adds, "We're under final design and engineering right now." Michael Baker International is the lead architect on the project.
 
Donovan expects to have the entire 1.9-mile Stage 3 portion of the project (including the new bridge) out to bid late this year or by January 2016. Ground breaking will begin next July 1, when federal funding associated with the project is officially released. He is reluctant to give an estimated completion date other than to say construction and planting may take more than a year.
 
"It will become more apparent once the project gets underway," he says.
 
After the completion of Stage 3, says Donovan, "we have about seven-tenths of a mile from Steelyard to lower Harvard and we probably have another mile or so from Literary to Canal Basin Park." Those sections represent Stage 1 and Stage 4 of the project, respectively. The Stage 2 section of the trail adjacent to Steelyard Commons is already complete.
 
Further reading: Canal Basin Park: 20 acres of urban green space in the heart of the Flats.
 
"It’s a very very complex process that we're involved with building this trail through that industrial valley," says Donovan of the six urban miles of trail, noting that challenges arise with property acquisition, environmental cleanup and funding. "The money part is a as complex as the design part, which is as complex as the acquisition piece and everything else."
 
Donovan emphasizes the collective patience, support and efforts of the four main partner organizations, which include Canalway Partners, Cuyahoga County, the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks.
 
"Everything we do is a team approach," says Donovan.

"Those efforts are bearing fruit. Thankfully, it's all coming together."
 
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