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Policies & Strategies
Link: Recreation and Open Space Printabe Version (PDF)

The goal of these efforts is to
provide high-quality recreation opportunities and facilities that meet the needs of Clevelanders of all ages, ability levels, incomes and interests. It is with this goal in mind that the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Plan puts forth a comprehensive set of policies relating to opportunities for Recreation and the enjoyment of Open Space citywide, along with specific strategies through which immediate steps may be taken toward their implementation:

  1. Waterfront Access: Maximize public access to the lakefront, riverfront and stream valleys, including safe and convenient access from nearby neighborhoods for pedestrians and bicyclists.

    1. Implement the recommendations in Cleveland’s Lakefront Plan.

      • Replace the Memorial Shoreway downtown with the Lakefront Boulevard, a slower speed pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly byway.

      • Create new pedestrian bridges and underpasses.

      • Develop enhanced transit linkages and trail connections.

    2. Use existing or buried stream corridors to create greenways as access routes between neighborhoods and the Cuyahoga Valley and lakefront.

    3. Design trails that provide access to the water’s edge where feasible.

    4. Improve the visual access to vistas of natural and man-made landscapes by developing scenic overlooks or protecting scenic views enjoyed from public spaces.

  2.  Waterfront Recreation. Develop and expand publicly accessible recreation sites along the lakefront and waterways.

    1. Implement the recommendations in Cleveland’s Lakefront Plan.

      • Develop new and expanded public beaches.

      • Establish new parkland and facilities.

      • Create a connected lakefront greenway network.

    2. Support the construction of Canal Basin Park.

    3. Integrate publicly accessible waterfront sites or walkways into private development projects.

    4. Support the development of facilities by private or non-profit organizations that promote water-related recreation such as rowing, sailing, kayaking, etc.

  3. Bikeways. Create a comprehensive network of bicycle routes, bicycle lanes and multi-purpose trails safely linking neighborhoods to recreation sites, schools, shopping areas, places of employment and other destinations throughout the city and the region.

    1. Continue the Mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee as a body charged with establishing citywide policies for bicycle-related improvements.

    2. Focus improvements and signage along those routes and trails identified on the “Cleveland Bikeway Master Plan”.

    3. Complete the Towpath Trail from Harvard Avenue to the proposed Canal Basin Park and eventually to Lake Erie.

    4. Enhance and upgrade existing portions of the Lakefront Bike Path.

    5. Plan and implement trail connections to the Towpath Trail and the Lakefront Bike Path from adjacent neighborhoods.

    6. Develop and expand continuous trails along waterways as part of broader greenway corridors.

    7. Coordinate bikeway planning with adjacent communities and the Cleveland Metroparks.

    8. Evaluate Ohio Department of Transportation property, railroad property and underutilized rights-of-way for use as potential trail routes.

    9. Incorporate, where appropriate, bike lanes or trails as part other capital improvement projects.

    10. Adopt standards and requirements for the design of trails and bike improvements for roadways in keeping with American Association of State and Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards.

    11. Systematically identify and reduce road hazards and barriers such as potholes, glass, and sewer grates.

    12. Use educational programs within the police department and other agencies to teach children and adults, cyclists and motorists to safely share the roads and trails.

    13. Develop a City Bikeway Map, safety brochure and other bicycle publications that are regularly updated.

  4. Bicycle and Pedestrian Amenities. Provide bicycle racks, benches, water fountains and other amenities to encourage bicycling and pedestrian travel throughout the city.

    1. Develop incentives and accommodations to encourage employees of the City, other public agencies and private industry to commute to work by bicycle.

    2. Establish secure bicycle parking at City buildings and parks.

    3. Develop programs for biking parking at existing downtown buildings and consider implementing bike parking requirements in Cleveland’s zoning code for new buildings and developments.

    4. Provide improved coordination of mass transit facilities, routes and bicycles.

    5. Support an Annual Bicycle Week to promote bicycle use in Cleveland.

    6. Design bicycle and pedestrian amenities as public art.

  5. Serving Neighborhoods.Ensure that a wide range of recreation facilities are equitably distributed throughout the city, with playgrounds located within approximately ¼-mile (a 5-minute walk) of all residents.

    1. Create a variety of public open spaces and recreation activities at the city-, district-, neighborhood-, and sub-neighborhood level equitably distributed throughout the city.

    2. Focus development of new playgrounds in those areas further than ¼ mile from an existing recreation facility.

    3. Transform vacant lots into community gardens or pocket parks.

    4. Require greenspace amenities to be developed as part of new development projects.

    5. Evaluate Ohio Department of Transportation property, railroad property and underutilized rights-of-way for trail and open space/neighborhood greening opportunities.

    6. Improve the identity of parks through better wayfinding and signage.

  6. Quality of Facilities. Provide recreation facilities competitive with the best available in the region, consolidating large-scale facilities at transit-accessible locations.

    1. Improve the opportunity for community input in the planning process for park construction or renovation.

    2. Partner with community organizations to train staff to deal with the challenges of today’s youth.

    3. Invest in professional development training for parks design and maintenance staff.

    4. Identify those programs residents would be willing to pay for to improve the quality of their facilities.

    5. Create a program to collect crime data in parks in order to better plan safety improvements.

  7. Diverse Programming. Offer a diversity of recreation programs to serve the recreation needs and interests of Clevelanders of all ages, incomes, lifestyles and ability levels.

    1. Redefine conventional definitions of recreation and open space to include community resources such as community gardens, skateboard parks, mountain bike courses, etc.

    2. Use parks as community space to bring people together.

    3. Expand opportunities to interpret community heritage.

    4. Expand opportunities to facilitate exposure and participation in broader arts and cultural activities.

    5. Create a disability advisory committee in the Parks Department to address special needs use at parks.

    6. Create programs to assist low-income park users, such as fee reduction programs.

    7. Improve programming for seniors.

  8. Serving Working Adults. Provide recreation services and equipment geared to the interests and schedules of working adults, supplementing recreation services oriented principally to children and seniors.

    1. Engage recreational clubs in the use of City facilities and the development of their own facilities that address their areas of interest.

    2. Review hours of operation to ensure that the desired programs or facilities are available at times convenient for working adults.

    3. Expand the participation with the health-care community in developing programs that address the exercise and health needs of working-age residents.

  9. Sharing Resources. Increase the availability and quality of recreation services through shared use of facilities owned by the City, School District, YMCA and other nonprofit organizations.

    1. Take stronger advantage of national, state and nonprofit grants and programs designed to provide resources for natural area restoration.

    2. Explore the potential of using school facilities for off-hour recreational purposes to better serve neighborhood residents.

    3. Explore creative partnerships with other organizations to enhance programming and resource development.

    4. Use cemeteries as passive recreation opportunities for walking, biking or heritage interpretation.

  10. Sharing Responsibilities. Improve maintenance of public parks and recreation centers through “adopt-a-park” programs and corporate sponsorships.

    1. Coordinate efforts with other government and nonprofit organizations with the goal of protecting and restoring the natural environment.

    2. Encourage volunteerism from local communities and adopt a labor-supported City policy.

    3. Consider other funding sources such as sponsorships, fees, partnerships, etc., to increase revenues for programs and facilities.

    4. Increase the use of labor from groups like the Court Community Services, Americorps, Civilian Conservation Corps, inner-city churches and nonprofit groups to provide added maintenance and programming.

    5. Charge non-residents for the use of facilities.

  11. Community Gardens. Reserve land for both temporary and permanent use as community gardens in every neighborhood throughout the city.

    1. Undertake an inventory of community gardens to identify those sites that should be protected for permanent use as gardens.

    2. Grant community gardens a status that protects them similarly to other park properties.

    3. Create a suitable nonprofit organization that is stable, able to manage multiple garden sites, able to address liability issues, and has a mission of conservation; or expand an urban gardening program to acquire, protect and manage garden sites in Cleveland.

    4. Establish community gardens in parts of the city not currently served.

    5. Develop and distribute a gardening curriculum to schools.

  12. 12) Preserving Natural Areas. Identify and protect natural areas characterized by stream valleys, wetlands, hillsides, forests and other environmentally sensitive and valuable features.

    1. Adopt ordinances that protect environmentally sensitive areas such as hillsides, riparian areas and wetlands.

    2. Develop neighborhood-level plans centered on restoring the function and aesthetics of natural features and highlighting them as amenities for neighborhood preservation and restoration.

    3. Include water and habitat quality improvements as part of lakefront projects.

    4. Support the acquisition of, and assist in the assembly of, land that will facilitate the achievement of specific greenspace protection goals.

    5. Maintain most of Dike 14 as a nature preserve.

    6. Identify opportunities for wetland mitigation projects within the city.

    7. Engage organizations such as the Wildlife Habitat Council, which work with private businesses, to protect, restore and manage natural areas on private property in order to the presence of such assets in Cleveland.

    8. Educate property owners on best management practices that reduce the negative environmental impacts of residential structures and uses.

    9. Encourage the use of conservation easements on properties that will facilitate the achievement of a specific greenspace protection goal.

    10. Encourage the incorporation of low-impact development features into new development proposals.

  13. Urban Forest. Protect and expand the supply of street trees and landscaped areas within Cleveland’s urbanized districts, maximizing environmental and aesthetic benefits.

    1. Establish tree canopy goals for different types of uses within the city.

    2. Use satellite and aerial photography to target areas most in need of tree planting.

    3. Increase support for the City’s tree planting program.

    4. Consider development of a tree preservation ordinance that addresses private property.

Specific identified opportunities relating to recreation are listed in the Development Opportunities section of the Citywide Plan website.

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