Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding erosion and lakefront access.
What is the Cuyahoga County Lakefront Public Access Plan (LPAP) and why is it important?
The Lakefront Public Access Plan was announced by County Executive Armond Budish during his State of the County address in 2019 and aims to improve transportation networks and increase public access to Lake Erie in concert with shoreline stabilization efforts. The Lakefront Public Access Plan covers three general topic areas: improved public access to Lake Erie, erosion control and ecological enhancement, and enhanced transportation networks along the shoreline.
Currently, over 90% of the Lake Erie shoreline within Cuyahoga County is not publicly accessible. This plan will detail a multi-modal network of connected paths, all-purpose trails, boardwalks, roads, bridges, and public access points across the Lake Erie shoreline. This will positively impact the lives of Cuyahoga County residents by increasing public accessibility and lakefront resiliency.
Who is leading the Cuyahoga County the LPAP?
Cuyahoga County Planning Commission (County Planning) is leading this planning effort in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works. County Planning issued a Request for Qualifications in July 2020, and through a competitive process selected the team of SmithGroup, Thirdspace, CTL Engineering, and WSP.
What process and timeline will be used to develop the Cuyahoga County LPAP?
The planning process is organized by the following project phases: 1. Project Initiation; 2. Identify & Analyze Opportunities; 3. Exploring Alternatives; and 4. The Lakefront Public Access Plan. The initial phases started in fall 2020 with completion of all phases being anticipated to occur late summer or early fall 2021. County Planning and SmithGroup have developed a robust public engagement strategy that includes outreach to lakefront property owners and neighborhoods, local and regional stakeholders, and a number of public officials and agencies.
How does this project relate to other ongoing initiatives and plans?
It is expected that the Lakefront Public Access Plan will support active transportation planning and economic development goals of the City of Bay Village Master Plan, Connecting Cleveland: The Waterfront District Plan, the Cleveland Bikeway Master Plan, the Lakefront Greenway and Downtown Connector TLCI Study, Lakewood’s Community Vision, the 2014 Bike Lakewood Priorities Report, Lakewood Active Living Task Force Recommendations Report, City of Rocky River Master Plan, as well as the recently completed Cuyahoga Greenways Plan and the Cleveland Harbor Eastern Embayment Study [CHEERS] and Community Confluence TLCI Plan that are currently underway.
It is also expected that the study will build upon analyses and recommendations that have already been completed in previous planning studies, including the Cleveland Metroparks Reservation Master Plans for the Euclid Creek Reservation, Huntington Reservation, Lakefront Reservation, and the City of Euclid Waterfront Improvement Plan. Finally, collaboration and coordination with the ongoing NOACA Regional Lakefront Trail Connections Plan and Cuyahoga County Public Works Capital Improvement Plans will be required as well. Several of the above listed projects are currently underway and scheduled for construction; any improvements recommended by this Lakefront Public Access Plan must be coordinated with these project schedules.
What would erosion control and public access built as part of the County LPAP look like?
There are several strategies for protecting and enhancing shorelines to mitigate erosion and support increased public access. The preferred type of erosion control measures will be determined as the project advances. Important factors to consider as part of that process are the local coastal conditions (wave, ice, etc), geological characteristics, ownership patterns, and regulatory and environmental review requirements to name a few. Various strategies were integrated into the design of the Euclid shoreline and can be seen by touring that lakefront or in the before and after pictures shown on the main project page.
What will I be asked to do?
Public engagement is vital to effective planning. We want you to be informed and involved. As part of the Lakefront Public Access Plan, County Planning and SmithGroup will be soliciting your input through a series of virtual public meetings and surveys. This project webpage includes all project-related information, public notices, and reports for public use. We ask that you, as a stakeholder in this planning process, visit this webpage often for project updates.
Funding & Maintenance
Who will be responsible to pay for shoreline erosion control and public access improvements?
The Lakefront Public Access Plan will include a section on implementation strategies where recommended improvements will be partnered with potential funding resources. Many recent Lake Erie waterfront projects have been assisted by a combination of funding, from local to State of Ohio capital improvement dollars, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and others. This project will also explore the potential for public-private partnerships that can, through the establishment of a Special Improvement District, raise funds for improvements through local assessments.
How will recommendations from the Cuyahoga County LPAP get built?
There are numerous factors that drive construction methodology and implementation timing. Permitting for Great Lake waterfront projects can be a long process, often requiring 10-14 months alone. The intent of the Lakefront Public Access Plan is to create an overall plan for expanding lakefront access and move into construction in priority areas as soon as practicable. In terms of how lakefront improvements will be constructed, that depends on the existing physical conditions surrounding each proposed project. Some shoreline segments may be accessible by land and allow the passage of construction equipment. Some projects may present challenges from existing topography, e.g. high bluffs, or ownership and may need to be constructed from the water using barge-based equipment.
Who will be responsible for maintaining Cuyahoga County LPAP improvements once built?
Ongoing maintenance is the key to ensuring the long-term success of these public improvements. The Lakefront Public Access Plan will explore a range of options. Maintenance by local jurisdictions is the starting point, yet this plan will recommend a number of options from public-private partnerships (Special Improvement Districts, or ‘SIDs’) to agreements among local governments, non-profit or conservation organizations, and other public agencies.
How will the safety of residents and lakefront users be addressed?
Access and safety are paramount. There are a number of best practices that will be applied to recommended improvements. Improvements will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), be comfortable and suitable for all users, and be visible, well-lit, and patrolled. Facilities may be recommended to traverse public rights-of-way as well as easements across private properties; in the latter case, facilities can be separated by grade, and be buffered by a combination of landscape buffers and fences and gates as appropriate.
Shoreline Access & Ownership
How much of the lakefront is currently open to public access?
Currently, over 90% of the shoreline within the County is privately owned, meaning less than 10% of the lakefront is accessible to the general public.
Will public access be allowed on private property?
There may be areas along the lakefront where public access is only feasible by traversing private properties. In these cases, the Lakefront Public Access Plan will explore various mechanisms for providing access and shoreline protection. Examples of such strategies could include the use of easements or donation of land. In the case of the Euclid Waterfront Improvement Plan, the City of Euclid negotiated easements with several beach clubs and private residents in exchange for shoreline protection and erosion control infrastructure.