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Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

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This is an editorial from the Beacon Journal

Posted on Mon, Oct. 25, 2004

 

Towpath to Lake Erie

 

The Cleveland crowd proves the optimists were right

 

 

If one quality could be used to describe the shepherds of the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath trail, it would be optimism. After all, these are the people who saw a transportation relic, often hard to find amid the underbrush and garbage, and envisioned a regional recreational asset.

 

These same people refused to be daunted by the task of bringing a veritable cornucopia of volunteer groups, governmental units and other agencies together to make the towpath a reality. They simply went to work preaching the gospel of the towpath, clearing brush and raising money. In less than 10 years, the towpath is used by millions of people each year, exceeding even the most optimistic expectations. It truly is a fabulous asset.

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This is what I found on the county's planning website, http://planning.co.cuyahoga.oh.us

 

 

Towpath Trail Extension

Alignment and Design Study

Towpath Trail Extension

Introduction

 

 

 

Project Background and Significance

The Towpath Trail has become a defining feature in the Cuyahoga Valley landscape. Constructed 175 years ago as part of the Ohio & Erie Canal, it was a simple dirt path on which to lead animals pulling canal boats. When the economically unprofitable canal finally ceased to be used after the 1913 flood, the towpath survived as a silent witness to an earlier era.

 

The rediscovery of the towpath began with the establishment of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 1974. One of the major projects completed by the National Park Service was the conversion of approximately 20 miles of the towpath into a shared use trail. The success of this segment of towpath has sparked a campaign to extend the Towpath Trail to over 100 miles as a continuous journey through the federally designated Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor. In addition, the heritage corridor trail will serve as the northeast Ohio section of the planned Ohio to Erie Trail (Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland).

 

Cleveland Metroparks has completed additional segments of the Towpath Trail in its Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, situated immediately north of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Approximately six miles of trail have been completed, and the northern terminus of the Towpath Trail is now at old Harvard Avenue.

 

Alignment

The preferred alignment for the segment of the Towpath Trail from old Harvard Avenue to Canal Basin Park is off-road, which is the same as the current sections of trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation. The trail would be ten-feet wide and paved with asphalt. Wherever feasible, the goal is to have the trail as part of a swath up to fifty-feet wide that would provide an area for environmental improvements, landscape improvements, and, where needed, buffers and safety measures for adjacent property owners. The preferred alignment of the trail will co-exist with existing land uses. It does not result in the replacement of any existing businesses or housing.

 

The estimated cost of the trail, including land acquisition, construction, trailheads, and interpretive exhibits, is estimated at $24.5 - $47.8 million. It is anticipated that the alignment of the Towpath Trail would also add value to other projects focusing on economic development, neighborhood revitalization, and quality of life.

 

In addition to the preferred alignment of the main trail, the plan recommends connectors to all the Cleveland neighborhoods on the east and west sides of the Cuyahoga River Valley, the communities of Newburgh Heights and Cuyahoga Heights, downtown Cleveland, and the Lakefront.

 

Other Components of the Plan

Environmental regeneration of the surrounding landscape such as the ecological restoration of hillsides, soil enhancements, improvements to drainage patterns, constructed and enhanced wetland pockets, and creation or restoration of riparian buffers and natural edges along the river channel.

 

Visitor services and interpretive exhibits based on both the natural and cultural history of the valley.

 

Public art to interpret the rich heritage and stories of the valley, creating a sense of place, and enhancing the physical improvements.

 

Next Steps

It is projected that the preferred alignment of the Towpath Trail will be built over the next three to six years. Prior to actual construction however, a number of essential tasks must be completed, including:

 

Continuing partnership efforts to address essential trail issues such as land donation/acquisition and related public improvements.

 

Developing a specific plan of federal, state, and local sources and funding to pay for preparation of final engineering work and construction.

 

Preparing applications and partnering with elected officials to secure funds.

 

Feedback

Please feel free to email us with your comments and questions.

 

Contact

Richard Sicha, Principal Planner

Cuyahoga County Planning Commission

323 Lakeside Avenue West, Suite 400

Cleveland, Ohio 44113

 

Phone: 216.443.3700

Fax: 216.443.3737

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Visit Peninsula on a nice weekend, and you get some idea of the amount of activity the towpath attracts. I'd think it could be a tremendous shot in the arm for the flats if it were to attract anything like that amount of business. At Peninsula, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a major attraction, too.

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I ended up following the "Canalway" (Ohio & Eire Canal National Heritage Coordior) up to Cleveland during my recent exploration of NE Ohio.

 

I saw thiswebsite prior to leaving and wasn't sure how well the route was marked. It turns out the route is very well signed, and is a great alternative to interestate travel as it takes one through the countryside, small towns, and urban neighborhoods, too.

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I found this article from the 4/9/05 PD and thought it might belong here...if it can be worked out around DT Cleveland, it can be worked out here:

 

 

 

Towpath bridge plan held up by rising costs

John C. Kuehner

Plain Dealer Reporter

 

Valley View- The Cleveland Metroparks may reconsider building two pedestrian-cyclist bridges on the Towpath Trail because the project's estimated costs have skyrocketed.

 

The Metroparks want to build the bridges over Granger and Warner roads so trail users could avoid crossing eight lanes of traffic.

 

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/11130392719611.xml

 

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This is from the Akron paper but it does give some news about Cleveland specifically.  From the 8/8/05 Akron Beacon Journal:

 

 

Federal bill gives boost to towpath

Akron's Cascade Locks section gets $760,000; other areas get millions

By Bob Downing

Beacon Journal staff writer

 

Northeast Ohio's most popular trail is getting a $9.2 million boost.

 

That's how much money is to be provided to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the federal transportation bill.

 

http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/12329375.htm?source=rss&channel=ohio_news

 

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90.3 @ 9 had a program this morning on the towpath/innerbelt and other related transportation projects. 

 

Not posted yet on their website yet, but basically it seemed that the completion of the trail past steelyard commons is still a few years away (due to the 25m price tag).

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here is an interactive view of the proposed route of the towpath from harvard rd to the lighthouse near whiskey island, on the lakefront.  not sure if the towpath will end at canal basin park in the flats or the more logical lakefont.  could you imagine pedaling all 101 miles and ending at a site along the river with no view of the lakefront, geez.

 

http://ecocitycleveland.org/transportation/towpath_tour/towpath_intro.html

 

a great use of Flash technology!

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From the 8/15/05 PD:

 

 

Spiffing up city's CanalWay could pay

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tom Breckenridge

Plain Dealer Reporter

 

In Tim Donovan's grand vision, a scenic byway that overlays two of the city's grittiest arteries can be an engine of change for hardscrabble neighborhoods.

 

But first, Donovan wants to pick up the trash and paint a few fences along West 25th Street/Pearl Road and Broadway.

 

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/1124098372199260.xml&coll=2

 

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Here's news on another part of the trail from the 8/11/05 Canton Repository:

 

 

Highway bill will fill gaps in canal trail

By EDD PRITCHARD

Repository staff writer

 

A bridge to carry the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail across Interstate 77 near Fort Laurens in Bolivar could be ready for use next year.

 

The $286.4 billion federal highway bill signed by President Bush on Wednesday includes $9.2 million for projects along the trail. The money includes $1 million for the bridge over I-77 and $1 million to tunnel under a railroad line.

 

http://www.cantonrep.com/archive/index.php?ID=236867&r=1&Category=11

 

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Isn't it odd that a city like Cleveland with mega-projects all over the place can't coordinate a simple crushed limestone trail to run 5-6 miles? They pretty much built the canal in less than 3 years from Cleveland to Akron, if I remember correctly in 1827.  I wouldn't expect to be able to bike on the towpath from rockside to Lake Erie before 2010. Sad.

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Yeah, but the construction of the Ohio & Erie and the Miami & Erie canals almost bankrupted our fledgling state in the 1820s to 1840s. With financing costs included, the total cost of both canals was $41 million, according to the Ohio Historical Society.

 

But, you're right, it's a lot more difficult to get something built these days, transportation-wise. It's to the point where you almost don't want to use federal funds, because of all the red tape that slows it down. But it's hard to resist the 80 percent federal share (except when it comes to transit, which is 50%, or rail 0%).

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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Anyone interested in taking a boat ride on a replica Canal Boat from that era, pulled by a mule along the Towpath?  This section of the canal, about 50 miles south of Cleveland still has water in it, and they run this boat tour.  It's in the village of Canal Fulton.  There is also lock #4 nearby that is cool to see...even though it no longer works.  Good destination bike ride once all of the pieces are connected of the trail.

 

http://www.discovercanalfulton.com/

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Another is down near Roscoe Village/Coshocton -- or at least it used to be the last time I rode it, in 1979.

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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From the 9/6/05 Akron Beacon Journal:

 

 

Towpath Trail growing in Summit

2-mile New Franklin section on PPG-owned land to open this year

By Bob Downing

Beacon Journal staff writer

 

NEW FRANKLIN - The popular Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is growing again.

 

The hike-and-bike trail is under construction north of Center Road in New Franklin in southern Summit County.

 

That work is the first phase of a four-step project expected to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million to build 4.2 miles of trail between Center Road and Snyder Avenue in Barberton.

 

http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/12570090.htm?source=rss&channel=ohio_news

 

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From the City of Akron:

 

IT'S UP TO DOWNTOWN

TRAIL WILL SOON REACH HEART OF CITY

 

 

The City of Akron today broke ground for a 5,000 foot extension of the Ohio-Erie Canal Towpath Trail that will be the most difficult and expensive mile of the hike-and-bikeway along the 101 mile corridor.

"Today we bring the Towpath directly into Downtown," said Mayor Don Plusquellic. "By next summer, a bike rider will be able to get on the Towpath Trail in Downtown Akron and ride all the way to the doorstep of Cleveland."

 

The section between the valley floor of the Little Cuyahoga River at North Street, and Martin Luther King Boulevard is the steepest section of the canal’s 300 mile length, and it will parallel locks 10 to 15 which were built back-to-back to accommodate the 80-foot rise in grade over 1/4 mile.

 

The land is owned by the City of Akron, and operated in conjunction with the non-profit Cascade Locks Park Association. The partnership that assembled the plan for the trail extension includes: the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, which assisted in obtaining a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help pay for the trail extension; Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, which maintains the towpath through Cascade Locks Park; and the National Park Service.

 

"This section represents the centerpiece of the entire canal towpath," said Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canal Way Coalition, "Just as the canal itself catapulted Akron into an era of industrial leadership in the 19th century, the towpath today continues to stimulate economic development."

 

As an example, Rice pointed to the development of two new housing developments at Northside and on Hickory -- both nearby.

 

The trail will be constructed by Akron’s Cavanaugh Building Corporation -- a 10-foot wide, ADA-accessible asphalt path with a crushed limestone berm. New concrete and brick sidewalks will be constructed along Beech Street to carry hikers and bikers to Martin Luther King Blvd. A subsequent Phase Two will construct a bikeway connection. A 29-car, lighted trailhead parking lot will be constructed on North Street opposite Mustill House & Store.

 

The $4.1 million project also includes funding ($500,000) from the Clean Ohio Trails Fund.

 

http://ci.akron.oh.us/News_Releases/2005/0916.html

Mark Williamson (willima@ci.akron.oh.us)

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From the 9/30/05 PD:

 

 

Towpath backers pull for more Steelyard taxes

Trail is 'economic catalyst,' official says

Friday, September 30, 2005

Tom Breckenridge and Olivera Perkins

Plain Dealer Reporters

 

The controversial Steelyard Commons offers retail, jobs and taxes for a needy city, but it could also help pay for an even greater regional need - a completed Towpath Trail.

 

Cleveland officials and valley planners are debating the split of new property tax revenue from the retail megacomplex, much of which could leverage the tens of millions of dollars needed to complete the trail and build an end-point park in downtown Cleveland, trail supporters say.

 

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/1128072810185000.xml&coll=2

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I really believe that the towpath could change the direction of downtown.  I know that we will need a lot of money to bring it into downtown.  After getting here, we need a grand space where people can gather.  I would suggest that we throw an extra $40 million into the Convention Center referendum that we will eventually have to ask the voters to approve.  I don't think that $40 m more would scare off voters. 

 

I am going to continue this topic under the "Dutch Experience" thread.  It seems to be kind of what they were talking about.

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I have biked the trail from Peninsula into the city...and also parts of it south of Akron.  It is a nice ride and another asset to the people in norteast Ohio.  But, 'change the direction of downtown', might be a reach.

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I agree with wimwar, especially if the East bank project is finished at the same time.

 

Does anyone (OK, KJP do you know) if the waterfront line will cut across this new park?

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It would be next to the Settlers Landing Station on the Waterfront Line.

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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I know that's where Settlers' landing is, but there's already a decent park there...Wasn't there talk of a park on the other side of the Detroit-Superior Bridge???  Just across from Settlers' Landing???

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I know that's where Settlers' landing is, but there's already a decent park there...Wasn't there talk of a park on the other side of the Detroit-Superior Bridge???  Just across from Settlers' Landing???

 

Yes, I thought it would be on the (southern) side of the Detroit-Superior Bridge by the B&O Railroad Building and that  this project would somehow connect both parks under the bridge.

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Yea, I thought it was on the other side of Detroit-Superior, along the riverfront and next to the old railroad terminal that Steven Litt wrote about in the PD a few months ago.  I think it is currently the site of a two or three parking lots that sit right on top of the river. 

 

I try to drive through that area whenver I'm leaving downtown, and the potential of the Flats as a large world-class neighborhood is incredible.  The East Bank and the West Bank Districts are not a far walk from one another (nor are either of them a far walk from Scranton Pensinsula, which, if developed, would be an incredible addition), but there's no clear and marked path for people trying to get from one side of the river to the other.  The development of a park in that area could truly connect the West Bank to the East Bank by making it a more well-lit and pedestrian friendly area. 

 

All of the developments planned (Towpath and Canal Basin Park, Stonebridge, East Bank, etcetera) should be tied together in a way that allows the WHD (and all of downtown for that matter), East Bank, West Bank, Scranton Peninsula, and even Ohio City and Tremont to become part of a group of seamlessly connected yet distinct neighborhoods.  Currrently, while they're all in close proximity to one another, there are no clear connections between them.  Physically, the only thing separating the WHD from the East Bank is a hill, but mentally the disconnect is much larger.  The planners need to do a better job of creating a connection.  The same thing can be said for the rest of the areas as well. 

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i dont think there is a way to connect the east and west banks of the flats.  Personaly, I like the seperation.  I like the river taxi.  the river is a "working" river so I don't think it will ever be connected.

 

However, as more infill projects are completed along side of the larger projects, the neighborhoods will repopulate, continue to evolve, and connect.

 

However, rail transit connections would help with this....but don't get me started.

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this just in from www.cleveland.com (also posted on the Steelyard Commons thread):

 

...

 

Pedestrians and cyclists can finally look forward to a Canal Towpath Trail that leads to downtown Cleveland if City Council approves money for the project as expected on Monday.

 

Taxes from the controversial Steelyard Commons retail development, anchored by a Wal-Mart super center, will foot a large chunk of the bill.

 

Council's Economic and Community Development Committee earlier this week supported a plan to direct about $10.4 million in property taxes from Steelyard Commons for construction of the towpath trail into downtown.

Another $7.4 million in taxes will be set aside to support small businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods, including Old Brooklyn, Tremont and Slavic Village, over the next 20 years.

 

Council president Frank Jackson said he anticipates the full council will pass legislation approving the plan on Monday.

 

That means Cleveland should finally see the long-awaited completion of the six-mile stretch of the Towpath Trail north from Harvard Avenue to the proposed Canal Basin Park, under the Detroit-Superior (Veterans Memorial) Bridge.

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From the Akron Beacon Journal 10/18/2005

 

 

Towpath Trail on road to completion in Flats

 

Legislation a huge financial boost to northern end

 

By Bob Downing

 

Beacon Journal staff writer

 

 

The Cleveland City Council on Monday approved legislation that provides a major financial boost to complete the northern end of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

 

The legislation provides $10.4 million from property taxes on the new Steelyard Commons retail development that will go to build the six miles of trail through Cleveland's industrial Flats area.

 

http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/12930547.htm[/i]

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Here's the article KJP mentioned in another thread because, umm, well, he wrote it.  This was in the 10/20/05 Brooklyn Sun Journal:

 

 

TIF boosts Towpath Trail project

Thursday, October 20, 2005

By KEN PRENDERGAST

Brooklyn Sun Journal

 

CLEVELAND - Construction of Canal Basin Park in downtown Cleveland, and completion of the Towpath Trail north to that park will receive a major boost from the passage of two pieces of legislation by City Council.

 

One ordinance was passed Monday, with another scheduled to pass this Monday, to create a tax-increment financing district associated with the new Steelyard Commons retail development. The TIF is expected to generate $6.5 million in one-time funding for the park and trail, as well as $375,000 per year to assist merchants in main street neighborhoods near Steelyard Commons and the Towpath Trail.

 

http://www.cleveland.com/sun/brooklynsunjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1129826764102240.xml&coll=3

 

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A press release from the city of Akron, 10/26/05:

 

 

CASCADE LOCKS BIKEWAY, PHASE II

Towpath Trail continues through downtown Akron

 

The City of Akron is planning the construction of a 4000 foot extension of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail from Martin Luther King Freeway to Lock 2 in downtown Akron. This section of bikeway/towpath trail will be a unique section of the Ohio and Erie Canal. It will generally follow the alignment of the canal, however, much of this section of the canal is completely covered by downtown Akron’s roadways and buildings.

The trail will consist of a 10 foot wide, ADA-accessible concrete or asphalt path with two foot shoulders on each side for a total width of 14 feet. Street crossings, with the exception of the span over Martin Luther King Freeway, will consist of brick and concrete at-grade crossings.

 

The $3.3 million project will be split into two parts. Phase IIA will connect Phase I of the Cascade Locks Bikeway near Beech Street and cross over Martin Luther King Freeway to Quaker Street. Phase IIB will pick up at Quaker Street, continue through downtown, and connect to Lock 2 Park and the existing trail. Phase IIB will be constructed first, beginning spring 2006. Phase IIA will begin construction in the summer of 2007. Traffic will be maintained throughout construction.

 

For further information contact:

Michael J. Teodecki, P.E.

Project Manager

330-375-2336

 

http://www.ci.akron.oh.us/News_Releases/2005/1026b.html

 

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Great to hear!  I like the idea of "branding" the intersections that it has with the rest of our transportation system.  It will make the trail a much more visible presence in its neighborhood. 

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Exciting news from today's PD!  I can tell you from personal experience that the complexities of getting through rough terrain and busy areas along the Gwynns Falls Trail in Baltimore made the project LOADS more expensive, but far more inspiring!  The bridges that they built were some of their most extravagant costs, but when you see them and use them, the difference it makes and the visual impact is just amazing!

 

 

2 bridges to take Towpath over traffic

Friday, November 18, 2005

John C. Kuehner

Plain Dealer Reporter

 

Valley View- We're about to get a new view of Warner and Granger roads.

 

The Cleveland Metroparks are building a pair of 800-foot-long pedestrian bridges that will whisk walkers, bikers and skaters on the Towpath Trail 17 feet over Warner and Granger roads.

 

The bridge foundations are taking shape, and the first of four 100-foot-long concrete ramps is in place along Canal Road. 

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2 bridges to take Towpath over traffic

Friday, November 18, 2005

John C. Kuehner

Plain Dealer Reporter

Valley View- We're about to get a new view of Warner and Granger roads.

 

The Cleveland Metroparks are building a pair of 800-foot-long pedestrian bridges that will whisk walkers, bikers and skaters on the Towpath Trail 17 feet over Warner and Granger roads.

 

The bridge foundations are taking shape, and the first of four 100-foot-long concrete ramps is in place along Canal Road.

 

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/113230996333860.xml&coll=2

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From the 12/23/05 Akron Beacon Journal:

 

 

Towpath Trail adds sections, funding

Year's gains include $9.2 million, first work on Cascade Locks leg

By Bob Downing

Beacon Journal staff writer

 

The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is inching its way upward into downtown Akron.

 

That's one of the major accomplishments of 2005 as the 101-mile hike-and-bike trail continues to grow, said Dan Rice of the Akron-based Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.

 

http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/13484717.htm?source=rss&channel=ohio_news

 

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From Tim Donovon at Ohio Canal Corridor....

_____________

 

To All

 

Tonite, at Cleveland's City Council Meeting (7:00 pm - city hall),

Cleveland will read into law the designation of the Tax Incremental Finance

District, based upon Steelyard Commons.  With this action, the city of

Cleveland will put in place the funding mechanism to redirect 35 % of the

property taxes for the enhanced property values of Steelyard Commons into a

dedcicated fund that will supply a minimum of $10.5 million toward the

construction of the Towpath Trail from lower Harvard Avenue to Canal Basin

Park and the development of Canal Basin Park.

 

This action sets a new precedent not only in our National Heritage Area,

but across the country as it represents the single largest contribution

towards such a project.  The TIF answers a huge question of where to secure

local match for federal transportation, which need a minimum of 20%.  The

TIF funds will be levered locally by the Towpath Trail Partnership Committee

to attract other state, federal and local funds to complete the project.

 

The success of the TIF owes a debt to many players.  To begin, developer

Mitchell Schneider of First Interstate, who showed great patience and

perserverance as he partnered with the city to allow the TIF to be created.

Two administrations: starting under Mayor Campbell with active roles by then

Chief of Staff Chris Ronayne and Economic Development Officer Greg Huth and

concluding as one of the first acts by newly-elected Mayor Frank Jackson

with help from Cleveland's Law Department under Director Robert Triozzi,

Belinda Pesti in Economic Development, and Ken Silliman, new Chief of Staff.

Council support was overwhelming with words of significant encouragement and

support from Councilmen Joe Cimperman, Martin Sweeney, Zack Reed, Sabre

Scott Pierce, Matt Zone, Kevin Kelley, Anthony Brancatelli, Fannie Lewis,

Rosevelt Coates, Dona Brady, Robert White and Kevin Conwell.

 

Unlike most TIFs, the Steelyard Commons TIF is different in that it does

not use the funds for improvements within the project, itself - Steelyard

Commons.  Mitchell Schneider of First Interstate has been steadfast in his

stance not to use any local subsidy for the project.  Instead, First

Interstate will even build a one-mile section of Towpath Trail.  The TIF

funds will be used for portions of the Towpath that will connect from the

south and north of the Steelyard site.

 

Ohio Canal Corridor is proud to have played an instrumental role by

introducing the idea a year ago and working with the many partners not only

mentioned above, but also those who sit on the Towpath Trail Partnership

Committee and the Cuyahoga Valley CDCs.  Rick Sicha of Cuyahoga County

Planning Commission and George Cantor of Cleveland Planning Commission

helped in drafting supportive documentation and maps.  Cuyahoga County

Engineer Robert Klaiber appeared with OCC Director at no less than 3

Cleveland City Council hearings and met independently with Council members

during the TIF deliberations.

 

Today marks a landmark moment in the history of building the Ohio & Erie

Canalway.  Join us if you can!


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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That's fantastic news!  Combine this progress on the northern end with the post before it and we're getting closer to that dreamy three-digit number!  101!

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