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Government and Politics

Metroparks take over Cleveland's battered lakefront parks
The state of Ohio had leased and operated the parks, but struggled financially to maintain them

Kevin Niedermier
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (L), Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman sign the agreement shifting operations of the city's lakefront parks from the state to the Metroparks system. The signing was at Euclid Beach Park on Cleveland's eastside.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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Cleveland’s lakefront state parks are no longer being managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Today, the Cleveland Metroparks added the six poorly maintained parks and marinas to the "Emerald Necklace" ringing greater Cleveland.

LISTEN: New way to operate Cleveland's lakefront parks

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The Cleveland-owned parks were leased by the state 35 years ago. But Ohio has had a hard time maintaining them and providing adequate safety forces. Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman says he has been working with local and state officials for a year to find a formula that would make the takeover work.

Newly created Lakefront Reservation:

  • Edgewater Park
  • E. 55th St. Marina
  • Gordon Park

Joining the Euclid Creek Reservation:

  • Euclid Beach Park
  • Villa Angela
  • Wildwood Park 

“We have probably put on at least six public work sessions to go through the process of how these lakefront parks will be part of the Metroparks standard. We’re laying out a very forthright capital plan to work on the infrastructure needs, and we’re very pleased to be moving forward.”

Zimmerman expects the annual cost of maintance and safety patrols for the lakefront parks to be between $2 million and $4 million. The Metroparks will lease the properties for a dollar a year for 99 years.

Euclid Beach Park is in Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek’s ward. “Safety and security, basic maintenance, it’s something my constituents have long wanted. We’ve been advocating for it, writing letters and lobbying.”

The deal was part of the state transportation and public safety budget signed in April. It allowed the state to break its lease with the city, and includes $14 million for the transition. The state has been having a hard time maintaining its more than 80 parks and is looking for ways to stretch its resources.

(Click image for larger view.)

Related WKSU Stories

Ohio's state parks are trying to improve with less dollars and fewer personnel
Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Cleveland Metroparks is moving closer to taking over the state-run lakefront parks
Monday, November 19, 2012

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