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Former landfill to become restored green space in Old Brooklyn

Henninger landfill

Twenty-eight acres in the heart of Old Brooklyn is slated to become yet another hard-earned link in the city's growing chain of urban green spaces.
 
Courtesy of a $561,000 Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) will acquire the former Henninger Landfill and other adjacent properties stretching along more than 1,000 linear feet of Lower Big Creek in an area immediately east of West 25th Street. The landfill was closed more than 40 years ago.

In addition to the Clean Ohio grant, WRLC also obtained a federal 2014 Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition grant in the amount of $15,000 to hire a riparian restoration expert to assess the property and develop a comprehensive restoration plan. The grantor describes this as "a critical riparian buffer corridor."

That future restoration will include erosion control; water quality improvements; reintroduction of native trees, wildflowers and grasses; and invasive plant removal. While plans for how the public will access the area are still underway, by its geographic positioning, it will become a growing part of the green corridor that includes the Metroparks Zoo, Brookside Reservation and the Towpath Trail. Officials hope it becomes a key link between those amenities.
 
Jim Rokakis, director of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, said that he's confident the space will have trails to serve area residents and employees. He added that there is much work to be done before employees from the Metro Health Campus can reach for their Skechers at lunch.
 
"We've got a lot of clean up to do," he said.
 
In a less obvious benefit, the project will support the general health of the Lake Erie watershed and will help expunge an unfortunate designation.
 
Lower Big Creek is a major tributary to the Cuyahoga River, which despite the improvements made since it infamously caught fire in 1969, is still listed as one of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The 46 miles designated reach from Lake Erie to Stark County and includes all tributaries. Per the AOC organization, those waters have experienced environmental degradation, fail to meet the objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada, and are impaired in their ability to support aquatic life or beneficial uses.
 
"To de-list the Cuyahoga River as an AOC, identifying and protecting natural areas to address the loss of fish and wildlife habitat within its watershed is an essential step," said a statement from the WRLC. "In a developed urban area, this project does just that."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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