Group reports progress in developing 100-mile water trail on Cuyahoga River

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

Progress is being made on developing a 100-mile water trail for paddlers along the Cuyahoga River.

That news came Monday, when trail organizers Elaine Marsh and Jeffrey Kerr gave a short presentation to the board of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County.

Marsh asked the park district to formally join in the planning that got underway in 2010 and is continuing under what’s called the Cuyahoga River Water Trail Partnership. The board enthusiastically agreed.

The grass-roots effort has, since 2010, “made significant progress, but we have much more to do,” Marsh said. A resident of Bath Township, she is conservation chair of the Friends of the Crooked River, a grass-roots group devoted to the Cuyahoga River.

Kerr said the river creates a potential trail like the Towpath Trail. What organizers are seeking is put-ins and take-outs along the stream and appropriate signage along the river in Summit, Portage, Cuyahoga and Geauga counties, he said.

The put-ins and take-outs would be operated by park districts and municipalities.

Sections of the river are ready to go as a designated water trail, Marsh said. That includes a 27-mile section in Geauga and northern Portage counties and a 10-mile section from Kent to Cuyahoga Falls.

Those sections are pretty, natural, friendly to families and beginners and have liveries operating that help to pave the way for such a water trail, Marsh and Kerr said.

Sections through Gorge Metro Park between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and through the Industrial Flats area in Cleveland offer challenges, including poor water quality from Akron’s sewer overflows and rapids in the Gorge, they said.

Information is available at the Friends of the Crooked River website, www.cuyahogariver.net.

In other action, the park district:

• Approved starting negotiations with Second Nature Fabricators Ltd. of Cleveland to design, fabricate and install exhibits at the new Liberty Park Nature Center in Twinsburg.

• Requested $1.2 million in Federal Highway Transportation Alternative Program grants for two projects. It is seeking $700,000 to build Phase 3 of the Freedom Trail in North Akron. It is also seeking $500,000 to build a connector trail from Theiss to Akron-Peninsula roads. That trail could provide a popular route in and out of the Cuyahoga Valley for bicyclists, park officials said.

• Applied for $35,000 from the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway to do a trail feasibility study in Barberton, Norton and Copley Township.

• Hired MS Consultants of Akron for $12,800 to design a replacement for a failing boardwalk on the Towpath Trail under U.S. 224 in South Akron. The boardwalk was built in 2005 on piers in the Ohio & Erie Canal.

• Learned that 912 bicyclists completed and won awards in the park district’s first summer bike program that ran from July 1 through Aug. 31.

• Paid $7,525 to remove a foundation and other structures at 5090 Young Road in Stow. The schoolhouse there was moved to another site by the Stow Historical Society. The park district paid Butcher & Son Inc. of Akron to finish clearing the site.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.


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