PEPPER PIKE, Ohio — A big “thank you” to The Plain Dealer for challenging the community to create fresh, bold ideas for Cleveland’s future. We commend those involved in the “Vision for the Valley” plan and the Cleveland City Planning Commission for their role.
As a nonprofit volunteer organization with a mission of making Cleveland and the region the best that they can be, Citizens’ Vision offers its proposal to be the pivotal springboard for the city’s plan.
Having studied the Cuyahoga River valley, we advise creating a shipping channel at the base of the Scranton Peninsula to shorten shipping distance while opening up a mile of river dedicated for never-before-experienced public use and access.
The new shipping channel (estimated costs: $15 million for excavation and $11 million for bulkhead work, per a specialized company) would be located at the base of the Scranton Peninsula across largely undeveloped land, starting immediately upriver of the Columbus Road Bridge and widening the river under the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
Citizens’ Vision’s proposed project has cascading possibilities, both near term and beyond. One is the reconstruction and reinforcement of Irishtown Bend. The Irishtown Bend Park project will need fill. Combining the two projects — digging the channel and creating Irishtown Bend Park — will be a win-win for Cleveland, by reducing the cost of each project were they to be done separately. Channel excavation material can be used to build up support with permanence for Irishtown Bend in a terraced form. That in turn would mean $5 million savings for the channel project for material disposal.
Among the public benefits would be creation of one mile of river with no commercial shipping. Instead, it would be devoted to waterborne activities including boat parades and oared boats (allowing Northeast Ohio to host more regional, national and international competitions). It will also create over two miles of riverfront property where boardwalks can grace the river’s edge, along with eateries and hotels plus transient docking, enabling the showcasing of Cleveland’s hospitality and beauty.
An important public benefit would be reduction of the dreaded river dredging. One, there will be a mile less of river to dredge on a regular basis to maintain for a freighter’s depth, and two, the channel will accelerate the rest of the river, reducing deposits along its path, resulting in less dredging throughout the commercial navigation portion of the river as well as the public portion. The minimized dredging gives us a willing partner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which, under Section 107 of the 1960 River and Harbor Act as amended, offers $100,000 in federal funds for a feasibility study having a local government partner, plus, if feasible, $7 million to $10 million towards eventual construction.
The Scranton channel will reduce staging at the river’s mouth for ships delivering iron ore and other products to the Cleveland Cliffs-owned ArcelorMittal steel plant and other businesses upriver. Shippers’ other savings willresult from shortening the round-trip time and distance by nearly two miles, yielding, for the general public, more opportunity to enjoy the full extent of the Cuyahoga River.
Newly created Scranton Island could be redeveloped with office buildings plus high-end residential condominiums with boat docks. Marinas can be part of this protected river section.
Direct benefits will go to Cleveland’s, Cuyahoga County’s, and Ohio’s coffers with new tax dollars generated from bringing in or keeping highly paid residents and delivering valuable real estate construction to support Cleveland’s public schools.
With federal infrastructure funding imminent, these projects can be classified shovel-ready. The impact on existing and planned businesses could be minimized, and readily mitigated if embarked on now. Not needed anymore is the short-line railroad traversing the peninsula and obstructing contiguous development.
Our vision and its end benefits go well beyond what we presented here. Pictures being worth a thousand words, we invite readers to explore our proposed project’s details, including supporting documents, with graphics and showing the full extent of the beneficial impact, by visiting: www.citizensvision.org/riverfrontjewel.
R. Ray Saikus is president of Citizens’ Vision.
Have something to say about this topic?
* Send a letter to the editor, which will be considered for print publication.
* Email general questions about our editorial board or comments or corrections on this opinion column to Elizabeth Sullivan, director of opinion, at firstname.lastname@example.org.