Irishtown Bend Redesign to Get Public Hearing Tuesday

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CMG Landscape Architect Scott CataffaPotential designs for a new park space on the Cuyahoga River at Irishtown Bend next to Ohio city will be presented to the public Tuesday evening. Planners, trail designers, and the Ohio City Community Development Corporation are betting the building of the greenspace will achieve multiple results.

The name Irishtown Bend refers to a 17 acre hillside where workers, mostly Irish, helped build Cleveland’s industrial might in the 19th century. Now the hillside is overgrown and slowly destabilizing.  That’s a concern for river navigation and has helped bring partners, including: the Ohio City CDC, the Port of Cleveland, landscape architects CMG, and engineering design firm Michael Baker International, together to fix the hill, connect bike trails, and create a new park.

The group held a public input session back in April, and used those ideas to help create the two main concepts being presented Tuesday evening. 

 

Scott Cataffa is one of the primary landscape architects on the project.

One scheme is more active and offers more neighborhood park amenities like playgrounds and dog parks and those kind of things that would give Ohio City kind of a great neighborhood park. The other scheme is a little bit more pastoral.  It’s event focused, we could have a big amphitheater here, maybe you could have concerts or events here.  Otherwise its more naturalistic, softer kind of landscape.”

That all sounds good to businessman Norm Plonski, who runs Major Hoopples Bar and Tavern adjacent to Irishtown Bend.  From his window, Plonski can see the ore freighters swing mightily as they pass through the curves of the Cuyahoga River.  But redeveloping Irishtown Bend is a song Plonski has heard before.Hoopples Tavern Owner Norman Plonski

“I’ve heard from the stimulus plan from the last president, I’ve heard it before that from multiple developers that said they were going to come down here.  They all talk about it, they all get halfway there and then they say they can’t do it because it’s not stable enough.”
Back in 2011 Ohio Senator (D) Sherrod Brown discussed using federal stimulus dollars to repair the hillside but the stabilization issue remained.

Fixing the river bank is key before other plans can go forward.  Planners on the project say a number of issues, many of them human-induced have triggered Irishtown Bend’s slow collapse.  Those include the building of public housing projects that dumped construction waste down the hillside.  Invasive plants have also taken over the bank and would need to be cleared.

After Tuesday’s meeting the group will take the public input and information from all the project partners and narrow down ideas into a final vision.  That might happen as early as August of this year, but funding would need to be secured from both the private and public sector first.

Tuesday’s public session will provide input to help narrow down plans to one design.  Plans for the park and funding for it are not yet certain.  Landscape architect Scott Cataffa says it will depend on the design that’s eventually chosen.  Costs for stalling bulkheads to stabilize the hill are estimated to be about $49 million dollars.

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