CLEVELAND — Members of the community gathered in Ohio City Wednesday to weigh in on plans to build a 23-acre park at Irishtown Bend, which will connect Cleveland’s near west side to the Flats, Downtown and Lake Erie.
Representatives from Ohio City Inc, Land Studio and developers listened to questions and heard suggestions from residents who had ideas for the future park and how best it could serve the neighborhood.
Plans for the space include a 30-foot wide promenade that will go up against the river’s edge.
A big part of the project will include stabilizing the Irishtown Bend hillside.
"We have, you know, a $3.5 billion industry here that supports thousands of Cleveland jobs. If this were to fail, it's not only a danger to people, there's a danger to the industry and the economy of the region. We also have a sewer line that runs underneath Riverbed Street. We don't want that to burst," said Scott Cataffa, one of the leading architects and urban designers leading the project.
The $45 million proposal to create the park will help connect multi-use trails that run along the Cuyahoga River and the West Side of Cleveland.
"It will be built to be an asset for the entire city of Cleveland, and that will be built as a regional haven for folks all around the community to enjoy every single day," said Councilman Kerry McCormack who represents Ward 3.
Some residents are concerned the project would erase the area’s history, which includes it being a previous Irish settlement and near the home of St. John’s Episcopal, a last stop on the Underground Railroad.
Cataffa suggested that because there are many stories on the site, there could be a diaspora garden or memorial to remember those who escaped slavery or a garden that talks about the seeds they brought with them from Africa. Ideas also included having some sort of site to remember Irish settlers in the area.
The park’s plan will include a maritime theater, wetland garden and boardwalk that will serve as a place to fish.
"We're going to continue to enhance that and create resiliency and sustainability in the park. And then, lastly, but not least, is the culture and history of this site. You know, from the Native American settlements to the Irish who came here during the potato famine to the Eastern Europeans who settled after that from the people who settled here from the Great Migration. This is a place of constant change and a really vibrant history," said Cataffa.
The current timeline for the opening of the park is 2026.
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