Help decide the future of Horseshoe Lake Park

For those who live in the Heights, Horseshoe Lake Park historically has been a source of pride, beauty, and recreation. The lake, which is actually a dam along Doan Brook, was created in 1852 by the North Union Shakers to power a new mill—thus creating what became known as Horseshoe Lake and the park surrounding it.

But 170 years ago, the dam and Horseshoe Lake were not built for the climate we’re living in today—with extreme weather swings leading to catastrophic results in a humanmade infrastructure.

But in early 2019, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) determined that erosion within the dam was causing failure that would ultimately lead to a breach, flooding, and property damage. ODNR subsequently condemned the Horseshoe Lake dam, and it was quickly drained.
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It seems that the only solution to preserving Horseshoe Lake would be to build a new dam, but no entity is interested in funding such an endeavor.

In the face of climate change, and the increasing flood events throughout the country, experts advise against preserving these human-made lakes and ponds like Horseshoe Lake—which are failing with age and put neighborhoods at risk for catastrophic flooding and damage.

So, now several groups, led by NEORSD, are looking to remove the dam and restore Doan Brook to a more natural condition. As the Doan Brook restoration planning process gets underway, NEORSD is asking for public input on the vision of what Horseshoe Lake Park should look like after the Doan Brook restoration.  

Shaker blacksmith shop (left) and woolen mill c. 1895The district will hold a virtual public meeting this Thursday, Aug. 25 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. At the meeting, officials will talk about the park’s history, its future, and the current project planning process. Registration for the event is requested and recording of the meeting will be posted afterward.

An open house will be held at Horseshoe Lake Park On Saturday, Aug. 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., when the restoration team will present planning goals and answer questions. Additionally, a short walking tour will visit conservable historical landscape features in the project area. 

Additional public outreach sessions will take place this fall and winter. To stay informed on the project and future events, sign up for this mailing list.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.