Metroparks to permanently close Brookside Reservation access road
by Dustin Brady

(Plain Press, February 2007) Brookside Reservation is a beautiful 135-acre park in the middle of Cleveland. In fact, it is the only Metropark reservation located entirely in Cleveland. The recently renovated park now holds picnic shelters, miles of hiking trails, and newly renovated baseball diamonds. Unfortunately, many of the 36,000 Clark-Fulton neighbors have never actually been to the park, even though they live right next to it.

Most Clevelanders have never seen the park because they do not have easy access to it. In order to drive to the park, a resident living at the corner of Denison and Fulton must drive 3 miles to access land directly underneath. A road formerly existed at the corner of Fulton and Denison that allowed neighborhoods northeast of the park easy access, but it was closed in 1993. Since then, most Clevelanders have given up making the extra effort to drive to the park.

Since the road closed, Brookside Reservation has undergone vast changes. The Cleveland Metroparks leased the park from the city in 1993 (99 years for $1 per year) and made millions of dollars in improvements to it. Now, instead of opening the road as a backdoor to the park, Cleveland Metroparks plans to convert the road to a multipurpose trail for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles.

The trail would be better than no road at all, concedes Bob Gardin, 27-year resident of Library Ave., but it still would not serve the thousands of residents outside walking distance. Also, Gardin says, even though children could ride their bikes to the park, parents could not follow them by car.

So why doesn’t the Metroparks just convert the trail to a vehicular roadway? Dick Kerber, director of planning, design, and use of natural resources at the Metroparks, says that this is more than just a simple issue of making the trail wider to accommodate cars. According to Kerber, the issue at stake is not time or money, but logistics. “It would be nearly impossible to build a road that would meet any kind of safety standards,” he said.

Kerber said that the existing road is too steep to pass new safety regulations. In order to build even an acceptable hiking trail, engineers must wind the pathway far away from the park. A vehicular road would be nearly impossible to redirect since it would have to be so much wider than a walking trail.

Jamal Husani, project manager for the path’s construction, also added that the five-way intersection created by a new road would be hazardous. The intersection of Fulton and Denison is very busy without the added complication of a third street.

The Metroparks is not even directly involved in constructing the road, further complicating the issue. The road’s construction is tied to the construction of the Fulton Road bridge. The city of Cleveland owns the bridge, Cuyahoga County is in charge of building it, and the Ohio Department of Transportation is actually constructing it. Any changes to the road must not only go through the Metroparks, but also through the city and county.

Even though it would be difficult to install a roadway at this point, Gardin feels that there are still more options to be explored. The road would affect residents of Councilman Joe Santiago’s (Ward 14), Councilman Brian Cummins’ (Ward 15), and Councilman Kevin Kelly’s (Ward 16) wards which border the park. Gardin feels that with enough thought and ingenuity, residents can work with their councilmen to come up with a solution that would allow maximum access to the park.

Archwood resident and former lobbyist for the road, Bill Callahan recently asked a very simple question: “Where else are the parks in that neighborhood?” Clark-Fulton neighbors really have no other large parks to enjoy and an access road would open a huge green space for them.

 

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