The Towpath Trail took a big step forward this past Friday and Saturday as Mark Haynes Constructioncraned in a 40-ton, prefabricated steel truss bridge that connects Stage 3 of the Towpath Trail Extension running 1.9 miles from the northern entrance of Steelyard Commons to Literary Ave in Tremont. On Saturday an 19-ton cantilevered observation deck was installed that when complete, will give trail users a sweeping view of the valley’s industrial corridor. Continue reading
by Meg Hadzinsky
Earth Day, April 22, represented an important milestone for Tremont this year, as the long-awaited Towpath construction broke ground at Clark Field. The project was administered by a four-party agreement that included the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metroparks, and the nonprofit group Canalway Partners. When the final stages are complete, the trail will begin in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and end at Canal Basin Park, connecting neighborhoods and residents for miles and miles. The Earth Day groundbreaking at Clark Field began stage three of the project, which Tremont residents have anticipated for almost two decades. This development will be well worth the wait.
Tim Donovan, Director of Canalway Partners, described the trail network as connecting neighborhoods, historical districts, natural areas, and destination points. Tremont will be home to the anchor portion of the trail, which will bring new opportunities and connections to the neighborhood. Donovan explained how the Towpath will improve lives for Tremont residents and visitors: “This is a big quality of life project, if you will. For Tremont residents, it’s a new world. It’s a new day for you. You’re going to have one of the most popular Trails in Northeast Ohio out your back door; you can use it daily for exercise, for relaxation, etc.; your property values are going to take a bump – the closer you are to the Trail, the more that bump will be. So, yeah. It’s all good news. The end date on the stage 3 project is the fall of 2018.”
Kerry McCormack, Council Representative for Cleveland’s Ward 3, also attended the Clark Field groundbreaking ceremony. After recognizing Tremont West’s team during his opening statements, McCormack spoke with The Tremonster about the improvements Tremont residents should expect upon completion of the trail:
“You know, we heard earlier that this is a regional amenity. We had representatives here from the federal and state government, but what is also so critically important is how this impacts our local community. We know that when you build quality outdoor space, quality public infrastructure, it not only impacts folks that want to move into the community, attracting new businesses and investment, but it also is critical for our residents here, in the Tremont community and beyond to really provide an opportunity for healthy and happy lives. Having good public access—whether you are just coming from a five-minute walk down the street or whether you’re coming from a different part of the near West Side—having the ability to exercise, get out in the fresh air, be with your friends and family is really important to having a healthy community. Where we are right now in Clark Field—by the leadership of local Tremont residents like Bev Wurm and Friends of Clark Field advocating for investment in this park right here—that is the type of activity that’s really going to create quality and continue to create quality neighborhoods, where people have access to these amenities. What is also important about that is that they are public. So, it doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money you have or any of that. You’re able to come down here and enjoy these amenities . . . that raise the quality of life for the people in the community, which is really important.”
The Towpath is sure to bring a new quality of life to Tremont, but this project was no walk in the park for partners and residents involved. Michelle Davis, Assistant Director of Tremont West Development Corporation, talked to us about how their team is prepping residents for the change and how this highly anticipated progress has been years in the making:
“Tremont West is so excited about today; our organization has been waiting for the arrival of the Towpath Trail for close to two decades. Since they started talking about the project, we knew it was going to touch our neighborhood. Residents have been excited about it, talking about it for years, asking, ‘When is this going to happen?’ And patience has prevailed, and we are here today for the groundbreaking of the Towpath Trail. We have started a planning process, getting the neighbors ready for the Towpath Trail. We received funds to do the Tremont Towpath Integration Plan, where neighbors are meeting and talking with our consultants on planning to be prepared for the arrival of the Towpath Trail. Do we have enough bike racks? Are residents prepared to have hundreds of bicyclists on the streets on the weekends? Plans are also in the works to start walking clubs, running clubs, and biking clubs, and to connect the children of Tremont Pointe with the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op, possibly getting children through their bicycle safety program and earning bikes. Residents will have access to a regional asset that doesn’t usually come through urban neighborhoods. How do we get our neighborhoods ready, so when it opens, we’re ready to hit the road and get out to enjoy this great asset?”
Erich Hooper of Hooper Farm took part in the groundbreaking ceremony and is excited for what is to come: “It’s been a long time, and it’s an honor to still be here to see it actually happen. What this project means to the Tremont area, what it means to Cuyahoga County, connecting the dots along the great lake and the river, is phenomenal. To actually have a little farm in the valley here is a tremendous honor, and it opens my eyes to my true mission of Hooper Farm and urban agriculture.” Hooper hopes that upon completion, Towpath patrons will stop by Hooper Farm with their children and show them the importance of urban farming. Hooper Farm’s location will place it within feet of the trail, and Hooper hopes his farm will be a stopping place for bicyclists.
Keep your eyes on this development, and notice the opportunity it will bring to our unique urban neighborhood with access for residents to walk, jog, or bike along the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath Trail.