Canal group considers zip-line attraction in downtown Akron

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Akron city planners are about to consider a proposal to add some high adventure to the city’s sedate Cascade Locks Park.

The Cascade Locks Park Association has submitted a lease plan to the Akron Planning Commission to build a zip line that would extend up to 1,200 feet along the old canal locks off Howard and West North streets just north of downtown Akron.

To construct the zip line would likely take about $100,000, so the nonprofit association is seeking financial backers, said Ferris Brown, the executive director of the association.

The park drops 80 feet in the Cascade Locks with its five canal locks, and this would make an ideal outdoor playground, he said. The zip line could be built and open perhaps as early as April 1.

“But we still have a lot of details to work out,” Brown said.

The zip-line attraction along the canal would provide a new way for the grass-roots group to raise needed funds and also attract visitors to the park and its canal-era Mustill Store, Brown said.

The proposed lease goes to the city planning board on Dec. 14 and would then make its way to the Akron City Council in late December or early January.

Riders would be equipped with a safety helmet, work gloves and two harnesses. They would be attached to the zip line in a sitting position.

The zip-line course would begin off Beech Street behind the Innerbelt Nite Club. Riders would glide along a steel cable from tower to tower.

Towers up to 70 feet tall would have to be constructed along the route.

The association is looking to the FirstEnergy Corp. and others for donations to help get the towers built, Brown said.

The layout of the course is complicated by the industries, bridges, canal locks and electric lines found in the canal’s valley, he said.

Much of the land that would be needed is owned by the city of Akron, and it would have to be leased to the group. There are two privately owned parcels that would be involved, and the group already has a contract with one landowner and an oral agreement with the second.

Brown said it would take about a month to build the course, he said.

Two people would zip at a time, and there would be either two runs or four shorter runs. The first run might be 700 to 900 feet and the second run about 300 feet. Additional runs might be added later.

Brown said passengers would pay anywhere from $15 to $20 for an hour of riding. At the completion of the zip line, the passengers could walk up the hill and ride again.

It would take about six employees to manage and run the operation, he said. The association has hired a Georgia-based consulting firm, Signature Research, to look into the feasibility of establishing such a course in downtown Akron.

The group has been seriously looking into the idea since June, Brown said.

If the plan moves forward, it would be the second public zip-line attraction in Summit County. There is a small zip line at the Akron Fossils & Science Center in Copley Township.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or

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