How One Lake Erie Town Got Free Waterfront Property for Public Use

Clear communication and a fair trade let Euclid, Ohio begin to rethink its lakefront—and its future.

March 26, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By Katharine Jose


atdr / Shutterstock

Euclid, Ohio is not the first town built by Industrial Age magnates that undervalued a lake used more often for dumping trash than for recreation. And it is not the first town to reimagine that waterfront as an asset for current residents and a draw for new ones. 

But like much of the waterfront on the Great Lakes, the properties that line the shore in Euclid are privately owned, and it might be the first town to figure out how to acquire that land without spending huge amounts of money, or seizing it through eminent domain. 

Instead, Daniel J. McGraw explains in a long piece at NextCity, Euclid made a trade.  

"In short, Euclid got 100-odd homeowners to voluntarily give the city their private lakefront properties so the public could ride their bikes and spread out their picnics there. Instead of monetary compensation, the property owners will receive in return what they’re betting is even more valuable: a new piece of infrastructure that will stabilize the bluff that their houses sit on above the lake, and a public park near their properties — something that might have once been seen as a drawback. The public, in turn, will finally get access to a prime swathe of their city’s waterfront." 

Like many areas of Cleveland, Euclid was decimated by foreclosure during the Great Recession, but even before that the town was working to attract more residents after many of them left for outer-ring suburbs in the last few decades of the 20th century. 

Euclid is about to get a massive Amazon distribution center in an old mall that may connect to the new park, and the new waterfront trail is part of a master greenway plan for greater Cleveland. So whether or not a "short waterfront trail" can "really contribute significantly to the city of Euclid’s rebound" is still an open question, but, McGraw writes, "It's not impossible."  

Monday, March 19, 2018 in NextCity

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