Monday, April 7, 2008

Cleveland in Ten Years?

The rejuvenation of the Lake Erie waterfront is a no-brainer. Cleveland has a beautiful (at least when you're not swimming in it) resource that could conceivably bring great joy and at least moderate prosperity to a region in sore need of both. But, in their infinite wisdom, Cleveland's lakefront, with a few exceptions, has been rendered an industrial wasteland, from the Cargill plant marring the shoreway to the CSX rail lines that cordon off downtown. Granted, Cargill is a good employer and taxpayer, and CSX provides a vital link to other markets, but there is only so much lake front to go around, so why not open it up to the people who live here?!

Enter the City Planning Commission. Having stumbled across their website, I was interested by the multitude of maps and activities, but was totally intrigued by the Waterfront Plan. Here it was, the defining document on the future of the Cleveland waterfront, a postcard from Cleveland's near future. So what did it say?

Focusing only on the West Side (for the purpose of moderately sized posts), the map, as partially shown above displays a wealth of "water-related", "park & public realm" and "neighborhood enhancements". Stripping away the buzzwords, what this means specifically, in no particular order and with no particular relevance is the following:

1. A (presumably vastly) improved Edgewater Park. The size and scope of the beach looks to be nearly twice as large as the current areas, with new picnic areas, tree covered parkland, gardens and marinas.

2. Transition from high-speed freeway to Sunday drive Shoreway: as the plan says "a reclaimed highway, transformed into a slower-moving, tree-lined, pedestrian scaled lakefront boulevard".

This, in turn, promotes an inclusion of nearby neighborhoods, whether it be West Blvd., Detroit Shoreway or Ohio City through creation of interchanges at West 73rd, 65th, 54th, 45th and 28th Streets.

3. By creating an opening to the lake, rather than a barrier from it, these neighborhoods will benefit both through access, facilities, capital improvements and new development; both commercially and residentially. For proof, see the suspiciously clean and sunny scene illustrated from the plan below:

In any case, the formation of an agreed upon plan with concrete ideas for the productive and aesthetic benefit of Cleveland and Clevelanders is a step in the right direction. So with the image of marinas, sandy beach front and terraced gardens still fresh in your mind, tell a friend and spread the word... We really don't resemble the industrial tar pit we're made out to be!