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Cuyahoga County Proposes connected Lakefront Path

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently reported on a massive proposal by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish to create a “transformative” connected lakefront path from Bay Village to Euclid.
The County is not proposing to take private property, which comprises about 70% of the land area under consideration. Instead, the City plans to follow in the footsteps of Euclid, where private landowners granted public access to their property in return for stabilization of the shoreline along a 3/4 mile trail. The Euclid program cost $12 million. Budish’s team estimates that the project would cost about $15 million per mile. The project is in early stages with Cleveland.comreporting that the County is requesting a $200,000 grant to assist in funding a $500,000 feasibility study. 
The initial wish-list for the project includes things like bike and pedestrian access to bridges, coordination of lakefront access in communities and with other cities, and a change in Ohio law to allow breakwalls to be built into the lake to create a road for ambulances. 
More information on the plan can be found on the Cuyahoga County Executive’s website, including proposed access maps.  The report indicates an extensive opportunity for public hearings and input will be planned. 
Want to weigh in? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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2019 Annual Meeting

The Ohio Lakefront Group welcomed approximately 300 guests to its 2019 Annual Meeting. In addition, the group broadcast the meeting live via its Facebook page, a copy of which is available here for those with a Facebook account or here for those who do not.

At a short business meeting, the group elected a slate of officers that includes Greg Baeppler (Bay Village), Bob Bunsey (Huron), and Vitas Cyvas (Willowick). Other information, including a financial report, was presented.

After concluding the formal meeting, the group moved to educational discussions and presentations, hearing from Keith Senziak of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Jim Stouffer of the Lake Erie Foundation, and Tony Yankel, President of the Ohio Lakefront Group.

2019 Annual Meeting Powerpoint (as a PDF)

Following the meeting, there were a significant number of questions, especially as it relates to the current high water situation. A number of individuals asked if there is anything that is being done to artificially retain water in Lake Erie or if anything can be done to divert water to lower the lake levels.

Both Mr. Senziak (USACE) and Mr. Yankel, President of the OLG and an engineer) explained that there are no artificial controls of Lake Erie in terms of what is coming in and what is going out that have an impact on how high the waters of the Lake are right now. Only two of the Great Lakes (Ontario and Superior) have measures that could be said to artificially impact the inflow or outflow of Lake Erie. Neither of these have an impact on Lake Erie, because they are more than 300 feet lower than Lake Erie.

More than 90% of the water from Lake Erie flows from the upper Lakes (Huron and Michigan), through the Detroit River, and into Lake Erie. The high water levels are due to increased precipitation and increased storm activity in the area. There are several popular urban legends that flow regulation on the Niagara River is impacting the levels of Lake Erie, but these are not accurate from a scientific standpoint. There are some slight modifications that partially span the Niagara River, which serve to direct flow for aesthetic purposes over the Niagara Falls, however they do not control or limit the amount of water that flows out of the Lake.  This provision has been governed by an international treaty with Canada signed in 1909. The flow structures, which only span part of the river, were installed in the late 50’s. Since that time, water levels have cyclically risen and fallen as part of the natural variation in water levels. In fact, if you think about it, a large part of the regulatory, legislative, and legal battle taken on by the Ohio Lakefront Group was made more obvious because Lake Erie’s water levels have been so cyclical.

Army Corps of Engineers Materials

Regulatory

Buffalo District Regulatory Website: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/

OH Permit Info: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/OH-PERMIT-INFO/

Regulatory Brochure: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Portals/45/docs/regulatory/Regulatory_Booklet_FINAL.pdf?ver=2017-07-10-154705-203

Report a Violation: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Portals/45/docs/regulatory/ReportofViolation.pdf?ver=2012-12-19-115011-880

OH Littoral Fact Sheet: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Portals/45/docs/regulatory/DistrictInfo/FactSheets/OH_LakeErie_LittoralTransport_FactSheet%20_FINAL_18JAN2018.pdf?ver=2018-04-02-140432-823

Water Management

Lake level info: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Departments/Water-Management/Lake-Level-Information/

Great Lakes Data informational links: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Departments/Water-Management/Great-Lakes-Data/

Detroit District Water Level Forecast Page: https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/Great-Lakes-Information/Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/Water-Level-Forecast/Water-Level-Outlook/

USACEs Role During an EmergencyUSACEs Role During an Emergency

 

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New Threat in Central Basin

With summer upon us and ongoing legislative and administrative discussions related to protecting Lake Erie continuing in Columbus, the Ohio State University’s Stone Lab has released a new study identifying a new algal threat in the central basin of Lake Erie. The presence of the new bacterial causes additional concern because 1) it is also a neurotoxin with severe implications for environment, health, and the lakefront economy, 2) most water treatment facilities do not currently test for it or have the ability to test for it without expensive facility upgrades, and 3) presence of the toxin in the central basin goes against some of the traditional things we’ve come to understand regarding the algal growth- scientists don’t yet understand how it is growing. The study is available to the public but has also been presented in several media stories such as this one in the Akron Beacon Journal and this one in Science Daily.
In a media release, OLG President Tony Yankel pointed out that this news ads a new dimension of urgency to the pleas of lakefront property owners to resolve permitting processes and protect the lake’s shoreline. Yankel stated, “We are closely reviewing the Stone Lab report, which indicates that the muddier waters of the central basin are an underlying cause of this new toxin. This is a strong argument for reducing sediment. In this time of extremely high water, shoreline protection is being destroyed, resulting in unprecedented amounts of land and sediment going into the lake. If ODNR continues to frustrate efforts to permit shoreline protection, nothing will stop the massive amounts of land loss and sedimentation taking place.”

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General Assembly Acts on Lake Legislation before Wrapping Up for the Session

The Ohio General Assembly is expected to wrap up its work this week. Both the Ohio House and Senate have tentatively scheduled a session day on December 27th, with the stated purpose of overriding some expected vetoes by the Governor.  After that, the legislature is expected to adjourn. Newly elected and re-elected members will be sworn into office and a new General Assembly will convene in early January. All pending legislation that has not been enacted will have to be re-introduced and start the legislative process all over again.

One of the last bills passed by the current General Assembly has special interest to Ohio Lakefront Group members: Senate Bill 51. SB 51 is expected to be signed into law. Although numerous provisions (predominantly capital expenditures unrelated to the original proposal) were added to the bill, those of the most interest to OLG members would expand the scope of public improvements that may be funded and completed by a special improvement district (SID) to include shoreline improvement projects along Lake Erie.

A SID is an economic development tool that may be used to facilitate the development and implementation of services within a defined district located within one or more cities, villages, or townships. The improvements and services are funded through a special assessment levied against property in the district. The SID is administered by the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is created for the purpose of governing the district. Simplified, a SID would allow property owners to band together to form a public-private partnership for the purposes of lakefront repairs, improvements, and protection. Supporters of the bill are hopeful that creation of a SID could allow property owners to take on restoration and protection efforts that are immediately necessary as a group, financed over up to 30 years. Unlike most other SIDs, those for coastal management purposes must have the consent of 100% of impacted property owners.

Once the Governor has signed the bill (and assuming he does), the Ohio Lakefront Group will work with local groups and local governments to disseminate additional information for those interested in forming a SID.

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