Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail Dedication
Thursday, August 13th, 2015 – 3:36pm
Several key stakeholders and dignitaries came together at Merwin’s Wharf, including current Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, to dedicate the first section of the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail. The new section of trail runs nearly half a mile and connects the southern end of the Scranton Peninsula to the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail. When fully completed, the Centennial Trail will be 1.3 miles in length and touch down in Wendy Park on Whiskey Island. The Centennial Trail is a key component of the Cuyahoga – Lake Link Trail, a network of trails, parks and bridges that improves public access to the Cuyahoga River and adjacent greenspace, and it will ultimately grant easy access to the lakefront for residents who have been cut off for decades.
Last year, the Cleveland Foundation bestowed a $5 million grant to The Trust for Public Land that allowed the trail to be constructed. Ronn Richard, the President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation was on hand to speak and noted, “More than recreation, projects like this improve community health and drive economic development.” Secretary Jewell used the pulpit to promote the reauthorization of the U.S. Land and Water Conservation Fund, a fund set up in the 1960s with revenue generated from off-shore drilling to help pay for land assets we enjoy such as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. These funds have helped create a $17.4 billion, 200,000 outdoor recreation industry in the State of Ohio. After 50 years, the fund is set to expire September 30th if it is not reauthorized.
A number of other speakers were present, including Mayor Frank Jackson who stated, “This project helps connect the city and connects neighborhoods. It’s assets like this that help people decide where to live.” While Cleveland Metroparks CEO, Brian Zimmerman remarked, “This represents a connection to community and place.” A sentiment that was echoed by many in attendance, and we here at Bike Cleveland were glad to hear it because it demonstrates that our civic and political leaders understand the importance of having infrastructure that supports active and alternate means of transportation. With projects like this, Cleveland continues to position itself as a great place to live with the amenities people are increasingly demanding out of their cities. All told, a very encouraging event that inspires confidence in the future of the city moving forward.