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Cleveland Metroparks To Unveil Details Of Proposed Shoreline Redevelopment

The proposed changes include softening the shoreline with dredged river sediment. [Cleveland Metroparks]
An annotated proposal for changes to Cleveland's shoreline.

Cleveland Metroparks will unveil a plan for redesigning portions of the city’s lakefront Thursday evening during a community discussion. The plan aims to increase access to Lake Erie from Cleveland neighborhoods, as well as provide shoreline protection from storms and additional habitat for local wildlife.

The Cleveland Harbor Eastern Embayment Resilience Study, or CHEERS, will focus on the portion of Cleveland’s lakefront between the Lakeside Yacht Club and the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.

The proposal involves using dredged sediment from the river to create park space and a small barrier island to protect the shoreline from waves and storms, said Metroparks Chief Planning and Design Officer Sean McDermott.

“It gives another avenue for the beneficial reuse for dredge material that is annually being dredged from the Cuyahoga River channel,” McDermott said.

The initial plan comes after a year of collecting comments from residents and community partners about what changes they’d like to see along the lakefront, he said. Additional input will be collected Thursday evening and as the planning process continues, he said.

“This effort has really been community-driven, and we want to make sure what we’ve heard from the community that we’ve now translated to the plan is what the community is looking for,” McDermott said. “Our next steps will be to make components of the project shovel-ready, but we’re not completely done yet with the planning process. We have some recommended alternatives and we’re looking for public feedback.”

Putting parks and habitat along the lake is better for wildlife, McDermott said, but it also protects from threats like erosion. The plan relies on a different approach to previous efforts, he said, which was mostly focused on manmade structures.

“That may have been the way things were done in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but with modern engineering, with nature, we can kind of change our approach a bit,” McDermott said. “A softer shoreline provides resiliency and is more of a modern solution that can fit and check so many boxes that we’re looking to achieve.”

Funding will come from grants, as well as potentially from federal and local avenues, said Senior Strategic Park Planner Kelly Coffman. Currently, Cleveland Metroparks is seeking funding to develop construction documents, she said. Initial phases of implementation are expected sometime after 2022, she said.

The project is moving forward thanks to partnerships with local entities like the City of Cleveland, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and Ohio Department of Transportation, Coffman said.

“It’s just realizing there’s a great opportunity there, and how can we coalesce around a vision to make improvements and make a difference in the adjacent neighborhoods?” Coffman said.

Many Cleveland neighborhoods do not have easy access to the lake by bike or by foot, Coffman said. The CHEERS project can help to correct that issue, she said.

“We’re looking at identifying some of the key routes and working with partners to make that access more of a reality as a starting point,” Coffman said, “and then providing additional amenities when they do get to the lakefront.”