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U.S. Interior Secretary Leads Dedication as Section of New Urban Trail Opens in Cleveland

Cyclists on the new trail. Photo by Karly Kovac
Cyclists on the new trail. Photo by Karly Kovac

By Joanna Richards

Cyclists and walkers joined officials including the U.S. Interior Secretary today to dedicate the opening of a nearly half-mile section of a new public trail. It runs from the chunk of the towpath at the south end of Scranton Peninsula to across the river from Merwin’s Wharf, representing a new section of Cleveland’s developing patchwork of urban trails.

When complete, the 1.3-mile Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail will link the towpath to Whiskey Island. The foundation committed $5 million to the project.

Brenda Tate is president of Lakeview Terrace, part of Cleveland public housing. The Centennial Trail will run by her home when it’s completed.

"We’re going to be appreciating it, she said. "Everything that we can do to help, and enjoy the path ourselves – you know, because it’s coming right by our homes. So this has been a wonderful day."

But the path doesn’t reach Tate’s home yet, and officials couldn’t say how much longer it’ll be before the entire Centennial Trail is complete.

Public housing officials and Mayor Frank Jackson said it’s important that residents who’ve had a view of the lake for years will finally have easy access to it.

"It connects people and it connects neighborhoods. And it connects them in a way that it really provides us to become one city. It’s like a drawstring, drawing us together," he said.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell presided over the dedication. She praised the local project and the value of urban green space, but decried a decline in federal funding for similar efforts nationally.

"It used to be that our public lands were supported by the public. Our nation has kind of turned its back on a lot of things that used to be done for the public good. So philanthropic contributions have really gone from just being the margin of excellence, in some cases to being the margin of survival," she said.

Jewell announced $42 million in federal green space funding for all 50 states, including a little under $1.3 million for Ohio, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Since 1965, the fund has distributed royalties from natural resource development, now largely offshore oil and gas, to land conservation projects around the country. It's set to expire next month, and Jewell wants Congress to both reauthorize and fully fund it, up to the $900 million per year allowed by law.