metroparks plans $14m of improvements to lakefront parks, including edgewater beach house

The Cleveland Metroparks is rapidly approaching its 100 year anniversary in 2017, and the park system is currently working on improvements aimed at honoring the founders' vision and propelling the parks into the next century.

This week, the Metroparks unveiled $14 million of planned improvements to the lakefront parks. They include a two-level beach house at Edgewater Park, a boardwalk that would extend over the water at Whiskey island, a rebuilt pier at Euclid Beach, a pedestrian bridge crossing Euclid Creek and connecting Euclid Beach to Wildwood, and upgraded facilities at the East 55th Marina.

"The Metroparks has made major changes at the lakefront parks in the past 18 months," stated a video about the lakefront plan, reminding participants of the enhancements implemented since the Metroparkstook over management of the parks from the State of Ohio. "Imagine what it can look like in 20 years."

In a brief presentation at a community meeting held Tuesday at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Metroparks officials stated that the agency's priorities are to foster clean, safe parks, connect people with the waterfront and strengthen the surrounding communities. They also stressed that the plans unveiled this week are the result of nearly two years of meetings with residents and stakeholders.

Chief Planning and Design Officer Sean McDermott went into some detail about the proposed Edgewater Park beach house, which will transform what is now a small, benign concessions area and uninspired, bunker-like pavilion into a community hub that will no doubt draw residents and tourists alike.

"We envision this to be a hub of activity in lower Edgewater," McDermott stated at the meeting. "It's an iconic, exciting structure that's still in the early stages of design. This will be a $4 million investment, and we'll only have one opportunity to do this. We really want to make it shine as the centerpiece of the park."

The proposed beach house will have two levels. The second level will consist of a gathering area where visitors can enjoy a picnic lunch, meet friends or just take in the great views. The 9,200 square foot facility will have an expanded concessions area and retail store on the first level. A bridge will connect the second level directly with the entrance to the West 76th Street bike-ped tunnel.

Conceptual rendering of Edgewater beach houseConceptual rendering Some of these projects, like the beach house and roundabout at Lower Edgewater, are slated to be completed within the next few years. Others are longer-term improvements and have no clear timeline at this point.

However, Metroparks officials stated that the $14m to be spent stems from funds provided by the state when management of the parks was transferred. Officials did not provide a list of which improvements are already slated to be completed as part of the $14m.

Want to weigh in on planned improvements? Visit the Metroparks' website or attend one of the community meetings planned for this week. Park officials stated that renderings will be available on their website by Thursday.

Here's a list of some of the improvements unveiled at Tuesday's meeting.

Lower Edgewater

Conceptual rendering- A new roundabout will be built to alleviate traffic problems
- Arrival plaza with play features, fire/water features, outdoor dining area
- Improved trail system throughout the park
- Expanded, improved parking area with loop drives and dropoff areas
- Improved concession area with deck/stage
- Expanded/enhanced fishing pier
- Terraced seating along the waterfront
- Seatwalls and columns at the beach
- Barriers to help keep the sand off of the bike-pedestrian path
- New lakefront bikeway that traverses the entire park and Whiskey Island

Upper Edgewater

Upper Edgewater - site plan renderingConceptual rendering- Grand staircase leading to water with upper/lower terraces and trail connections
- New shelter and themed play area
- Upgraded restrooms
- Improved access to Perkins Beach
- Great lawn for large groups, pick up sports and picnicking
- New gazebo near Wagner statue
- Improved trails throughout, including to Perkins Beach
- New scenic overlook with downtown vista
- Reorganized parking layout with reduced pavement
- Rebuilt/improved piers at Perkins Beach

Whiskey Island

- Improved restrooms and concession building
- Boardwalk trail link along waterfront
- Grassy play area to be dubbed "The Arena"
Conceptual rendering- Connections to water taxi to be housed near Main Ave. bridge
- Overlook Plaza where pedestrian bridge ends
- Improved access to beach areas
- Picnic area and event space

We'll continue to follow and report on planned improvements to the lakefront park system. Next up, we'll delve into what's in store for the east side parks.

Read more articles by Lee Chilcote.

Lee Chilcote is founder and editor of The Land. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks The Shape of Home and How to Live in Ruins. His writing has been published by Vanity Fair, Next City, Belt and many literary journals as well as in The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook, The Cleveland Anthology and A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City. He is a founder and former executive director of Literary Cleveland. He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland with his family.