Towpath Trail Groundbreaking
This time next summer, says Ohio Canal Corridor director Tim Donovan, you'll be able to ride your bike along a new section of Towpath Trail, beginning directly across the river from Tower City. The new stretch is funded. A contract has been awarded to Independence Excavating. Donovan says work will begin within the next 30 days.
The project includes not only the 2/3 mile trail itself, but the naturalization of the riverbank from the North end of the Scranton Peninsula south to the Innerbelt, where the section of trail will also end. A failing steel bulkhead will be cut down to ground level, and the landscape will be graded back to form a natural river bank. It will be planted with aquatic plants along the edge, and as the grade climbs, it will have the feel of a meadow. The trail will be at the crest of the grade, between the river and Scranton Road.
The nonprofit Ohio Canal Corridor purchased the land along the river to get the park and trail built, but it will ultimately be handed over to the Cleveland Metroparks, for ongoing operation and maintenance.
Tom Yablonsky, executive director of the Historic Warehouse District and Historic Gateway Neighborhood groups who has long worked with Donovan on the Towpath Trail, says the stretch of land will be a destination park in its own right—a waterfront meadow, in full view of Tower City and the rest of the downtown skyline.
The “Bring Your Own Shovel” groundbreaking attracted a full complement of Northeast Ohio politicians, including former congressman Ralph Regula, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Senator Sherrod Brown, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland councilman Joe Cimperman, state representative Nickie Antonio, and County Council president C. Ellen Connolly.
Regula talked about the importance of the corridor for children to be albe to see and experience the history and wildlife “that make Ohio a wonderful place to live.”
Jackson emphasized that it's not the politicians, who come and go with elections, but the civil servants and other advocates “who work at something every day to make something like this happen.”
Several elected officials praised bipartisanship in general and Ralph Regula in particular for getting the project done. FitzGerald perhaps jokingly encouraged him to run for office again. “I've got a whole list of people you could run against,” he said.