Last summer, leaders of the Flats Forward
initiative assembled a diverse group of area stakeholders and sent them in a boat down the Cuyahoga River to talk about how they could solve their problems together.
If ever a vivid metaphor was needed, the experience provided one. "It was the first time that people from Cargill Salt were able to talk to people from the bike community in a real, honest, transparent way," says Dan Moulthrop of the Civic Commons
, which helped to facilitate the event. "This was not a meeting up on the 24th floor somewhere."
The boat ride was part of an inclusive process designed to spur the revitalization of the Flats Corridor. For years, Cleveland's historic birthplace lacked an effective advocate. Now, after more than a year of work, a new group has formed.
Flats Forward Inc., Cleveland's newest community development corporation, will oversee the redevelopment of the Flats District. The group has a diverse board of stakeholders and a search is underway for an Executive Director. The group is currently housed within the offices of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority
At a recent meeting, Flats Forward representatives touted the East Bank project, the Port Authority's stewardship of the lake and river, the steadily advancing Towpath Trail and Rivergate Park as signs of positive progress in the area.
"When I got here, I was immediately drawn to the Flats and the industrial river valley, and I knew that the Port would get involved," said William Friedman, CEO of the Port Authority, of his organization's commitment to the Flats. "This is one of the most unique maritime environments in the world, and we can tap into that."
Source: Dan Moulthrop, William Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote