In Cleveland, Ohio, plans to regenerate the marshland known as Irishtown Bend have generated dividing opinions. This week, landscape architecture firms LAND studio, a nonprofit from Cleveland and CMG from San Francisco, will unveil a scheme that amalgamates the two visions with the hope of transforming Irishtown Bend into a 17-acre asset to the city.

The area lies adjacent to the Cuyahoga River, bridging Ohio City on Cleveland’s west side and the city of Cleveland itself, but is currently undeveloped and only used by a homeless community. Speaking to local newspaper The Plain Dealer, Scott Cataffa, principal of CMG, said, “the park needs to be a neighborhood and a regional asset” that operates at two levels.

(Courtesy CMG, Michael Baker International via The Plain Dealer)

To achieve this, his firm and LAND studio are working with the Port of Cleveland, Ohio City Inc., the City of Cleveland, and engineering firm, Michael Baker International, to incorporate four waterfront areas designated to: a neighborhood park, Ohio City Farm, a history and ecology zone, and the new Maritime Theater—an esplanade area that will include a pavilion and sloped views across the river.

Connecting these areas will be an array of zigzagging paths and a reworked part of Franklin Boulevard that would also offer a playground and walkable trails to courts. Pedestrianisation is a priority for the design team who also want to make West 25th Street more people friendly, lining it with trees and calling for a new Rapid Bus line too.

Furthermore, the proposed ecology and history area would see boardwalks take pedestrians over excavated building foundations that acknowledging the 19th century Irish immigrant settlers. This zone, along with the neighborhood park will on one side be joined by a 22-foot-high “canopy walk” that takes park goers under a Detroit-Superior Bridge arch to the hillside, a lower portion of the bridge, and residential areas by the West Bank Park. Also around the bridge is to be a climbing wall attached to the 200-year-old railroad abutments and retaining walls

(Courtesy CMG, Michael Baker International via The Plain Dealer)

Previous plans for a zip line and a “boulder scramble,” meanwhile, have been ditched. For now, the plan will be pitched this evening at Saint Ignatius High School in Ohio City. Costing and the allocation of tasks is also currently being worked out by the team and stakeholders including backers such as the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. The primary aim, said Steven Litt of The Plain Dealer, is to “create a vision so compelling that it boosts public support and political energy needed to pay for the new park and for a separate $49 million project that would have to come first to stabilize the hillside.”

Litt also added that planners have said the homeless community in the area will be informed of any work before it starts and relocated accordingly.

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