Last week, I found myself on the East Bank of the Flats. And I was amazed. I saw a dueling piano bar (!), Zach Bruell walked by, and there is a boardwalk, where you can actually walk next to the water! I know, I know. You've see the recent coverage, but even so, it's hard to overstate the significance of what's happening.
I'm a little obsessed with the waterfront, and I blame both this guy and an environmental journalism trip I once took around Lake Erie with the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. Back in 2012, when I was at Civic Commons, we assisted the city with a series of convenings about the future of the Flats--the East Bank and the West, the maritime uses, the recreational, entertainment, industrial, commercial and residential uses, too. We held public meetings of all sorts of sizes in all sorts of places, including one on a boat. At the time, Rivergate Park was mostly a huge boathouse and a gravel parking lot; Scranton Peninsula was impossible to get across; the Towpath Trail ended somewhere around Steelyard Commons, Edgewater Park was not terribly pleasant, the Flats was a place people got nostalgic over.
The landscape has certainly changed. On Tuesday we're going to talk about it over lunch, from the best seat imaginable, right on the shores of the Cuyahoga, at Merwin's Wharf, the restaurant opened this year by your friends at the Metroparks.
When I continued my trek from the East Bank (Dueling Pianos!! Fabulous Baker Boys!), I went across the river, then along Columbus Road, and right after the bridge, there is a path, a segment of the Lake Link Trail that will ultimately connect the lakefront to the Towpath Trail. In other words, you'll be able to walk, run, ride your bike or inline skates from the shores of Lake Erie to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (and all the way to New Philadelphia, if that's what you're in to).
Beyond what's happening on the riverbanks, there's our Lake. The Metroparks have gotten great press for the crowds they've drawn to Edgewater Park. A few miles east, developer Dick Pace (full disclosure, he's on the City Club Board) is working on a project to build on the assets of the lakefront that surrounds First Energy Stadium. And in the midst of it all, the Port continues to develop their operations.
We've got an hour to talk about it all. We could use three. The important thing is that you're there.
photo credit: Christina Spicuzza via flickr.com