Cleveland, County No Longer Planning Sidewalk Expansion Along Lake Avenue

A map of the portions of Lake Avenue where sidewalk expansion was considered.
A map of the portions of Lake Avenue where sidewalk expansion was considered. [LakeAveCle.com]

A proposal to create a connector to the lakefront from Lake Avenue on Cleveland’s West Side will not move forward.

The plan, initially proposed by Cleveland Metroparks, would have expanded the sidewalks along portions of the road in conjunction with the city’s regular resurfacing. Opponents of the project were concerned about the impact of a larger sidewalk on trees and residential property, as well as pedestrian safety.

Studies of the region show the need for more lakefront connectivity, said Cleveland City Councilmember Jenny Spencer, particularly in the area of Lake Avenue between West Boulevard and West 117th Street, north of Clifton.

The county offered to provide funding for the connector through its Greenworks initiative, Spencer said, and Metroparks would work to complete it.

“These kinds of opportunities don’t come around too often with funding, and when there is a funding possibility you have to take a look at it,” Spencer said. “You have to conduct due diligence. And that’s what we did.”

A website opposing the proposal argues it would result in the loss of tree canopy, increase carbon dioxide and urban heat in the area and put pedestrians on the sidewalk at risk as more cyclists came through the area.

A FAQ page with answers to resident questions said no trees were slated for removal, and project stakeholders would work with individual landowners to limit impact on lawn space and other concerns.

Cleveland Metroparks led some community engagement initiatives in developing the initial proposal, Spencer said. Moving forward, Cleveland’s planning department will work with a broader group of residents to come up with other options, she said.

“I think it’s appropriate now for the city to re-engage that community around, are there other ideas for a connector?” Spencer said. “I think the intention is to really listen and see what emerges, while staying committed to that true north of, we want to be part of the picture of lakefront connectivity.”

Opponents have pointed to Edgewater Drive as an alternative connector route. Reworking the sidewalks on Lake Avenue would have allowed for greater accessibility for all ages and people of different abilities, Spencer said. There is still a desire to create more of those connections, Spencer said.

“We know that we want to be part of a bigger picture of lakefront connectivity in Cleveland,” Spencer said. “Is there another way to accomplish it that we haven’t thought of yet?”

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