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
, 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.