Lakefront Public Access Plan Wins Statewide Planning Award

The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, with support from its project partners Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works and SmithGroup, is proud to receive the 2023 APA Ohio Planning Award for Comprehensive Planning | Large Jurisdiction for the Cuyahoga County Lakefront Public Access Plan. James Sonnhalter, Planning Manager for Design & Implementation, served as Project Manager for this two-year effort, and delivered a plan that engaged residents, lakefront landowners, municipalities, and key regional stakeholders to create a framework for prioritizing investment in equitable public access and erosion control across six municipalities along 30 miles of Lake Erie shoreline.

Historic, and often discriminatory, development patterns and economic pressures have resulted in only 22% of the lakefront in Cuyahoga County being publicly accessible. a number that decreases to 13% outside downtown Cleveland. As concerns rose over inequities in public lakefront access, so did coastal erosion that continues to threaten properties, buildings, and infrastructure.

Recommended outcomes will increase public access to 50% (15.1 miles) of the shoreline, and will provide direct and equitable public access to nearly 47,000 residents—many of whom are underserved and underinvested.

For more information about the 2023 APA Ohio Planning Awards, please see the APA Ohio press release, visit the APA Ohio website, or watch the awards video.