Euclid waterfront trail to give public increased access

Even though the City of Euclid contains about four miles of Lake Erie shoreline, only a fraction of the lakefront - about 1,400 feet - is accessible to residents. That situation is about to change, even if it may still be a little while yet before citizens get extended access to what the lake has to offer.

As part of the second phase of its $30 million waterfront improvement plan, Euclid is moving forward on engineering and fund acquisition for construction of a multi-purpose trail along the lakefront east from Sims Park to near the intersection of Lake Shore Boulevard and East 248th Street. The .75-mile path would nearly triple the amount of residential access to the lakefront, says Frank Pietravoia, Euclid’s assistant to the mayor for development.

City officials envision visitors from across Northeast Ohio strolling the planned route, enjoying accessible beaches and a paddle-craft area where they can launch kayaks and small sailboats.

Once complete, the path will be accessible from Sims Park Pier, completed in 2013 as part of the first stage of Euclid's waterfront plan. Two more handicapped-accessible entry points will be added during the upcoming second phase. Though officials are still raising funds for the project's second stage, estimated to be finished in 2017 or early 2018, Euclid is forging ahead with its lakefront plans. 

"The trail will give people access to parts of the lakefront that historically haven't been available," says Pietravoia. "The good news is we're going ahead with implementation."

The work ahead

Engineering design work from architecture firm SmithGroupJJR began on the second phase in early 2014. The suburb initially hired the company in 2009 to assist with refining plans for improvement and enhancement of the lakefront, notes Pietravoia.

Breakwaters, essentially small bulkheads used to reduce the intensity of waves, will be used as an erosion control measure along the waterfront trail. Additionally, steep cliffs down the length of the pathway will be smoothed into slopes.

<span class="content-image-text">Breakwaters will be used as an erosion control measure along the waterfront trail. In addition, steep cliffs down the length of the pathway will be smoothed into slopes.</span>Breakwaters will be used as an erosion control measure along the waterfront trail. In addition, steep cliffs down the length of the pathway will be smoothed into slopes.

Engineering is projected to be finished by the end of 2016. Permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources would then allow Euclid to bid the project, with construction slated for 2017. Euclid has set aside another nine to 12 months for the trail to be built.

Pietravoia and the project's community supporters believe the completed trail will be worth the wait. "The region has been trying to address the waterfront for decades," he says. "In that regard 2017 is a short time frame given how long Cleveland has been trying to make lakefront development happen."

Cleveland real estate company The K&D Group has about 2,500 tenants living in two apartment complexes near the area where the trail and future waterfront construction projects could pass throughl. As part of a committee supporting the project, K&D officials believe lakeshore improvements will only make Euclid and the surrounding region more desirable.

"This is a project that can bring vitality to the area with a strong residential base," says K&D CEO Doug Price. "A strong base can uplift the whole area."

Euclid's main challenge has been getting funding together. City officials are working to acquire the $10 million needed for the second phase through several sources, Pietravoia says.

The city has already received $1 million in state capital improvement funds. A federal block grant could provide another $2 million to $3 million, while on Tuesday, Nov. 10 Cuyahoga County Council unanimously approved a measure to provide a $4 million loan to the suburb from the state-sponsored Casino Revenue Fund.

Euclid is also eligible for a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, due to improvements made to a wastewater treatment plant. Looking ahead, officials will seek foundation funding to fill any gaps not plugged by grants.

"We're far along in getting money for this phase, but there's no single large pot to fund a project of this scale," says Pietravoia.

Community-wide support

Euclid mayor Bill Cervenik and other city leaders are buoyed by support coming out of the region. Among the suburb's partners are Cuyahoga County, economic development organization the Greater Cleveland Partnership, and the Cleveland Metroparks.

Euclid is exploring a citywide trail network that would connect the existing Metroparks' Euclid Creek Reservation to the proposed waterfront and multi-purpose trail. In 2013, the park system expanded its Euclid reservation land to include Euclid Beach Park, Villa Angela Park and Wildwood Park, all of which run along the lake shoreline.

Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman has been in close contact with Pietravoia and other officials involved with Euclid's lakefront plan. The forthcoming shoreline pathway is in line with the Metroparks' overarching goals of linking the region's parks to the lake, according to Zimmerman.

"Everyone is figuring out how these different components can tie together," he says. "The trail can be a complementary way to connect to the Metroparks."

County councilwoman Sunny Simon has been a vocal supporter of using casino revenue for potentially "transformational projects" like the Euclid waterfront. The shoreline plan, combined with the city's downtown revitalization efforts, is another piece of the puzzle for a region keen on harnessing Lake Erie's economic development promise.

"It's imperative to make sure our lakefront is accessible to the public," says Simon. "The lake has potential to bring in new business and housing in Euclid like it does in downtown Cleveland."

Euclid area business owners and residents, meanwhile, are excited about the prospect of new shoreline improvements touching off investment on Lake Shore Boulevard.

Paul Infield, a chiropractor who's operated his practice out of an office on Lake Shore for the last three years, says the latest waterfront announcements are a validation of his investment in the city, which include a planned move to a new office next to Atlas Cinemas.

"We have a great asset with the lake," Infield says. "What's happening now can encourage activity within the community from people who otherwise wouldn't come out."

Should all go as intended with the lakeside trail and paddle-craft beach, a marina with slips for 150 to 250 boats is planned for the next phase of the larger project, says Pietravoia. The Euclid official looks forward to the suburb taking advantage of the lake's physical proximity, a prospect he maintains is long overdue.

"We see a great synergy with Lake Erie so close," Pietravoia says. "When this phase is complete, we can have visitors come in for restaurants, theaters and all our other nearby amenities."

Douglas J. Guth
Douglas J. Guth

About the Author: Douglas J. Guth

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to being senior contributing editor at FreshWater, his work has been published by Crain’s Cleveland Business, Ideastream, and Middle Market Growth. At FreshWater, he contributes regularly to the news and features departments, as well as works on regular sponsored series features.