CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Foundation board of directors today announced an additional centennial legacy grant of $5 million to The Trust for Public Land for the Lake Link Trail project.
The gift, commemorating the foundation's 100 years of impact in Greater Cleveland, was unveiled during a community event at Rivergate Park.
"Be able to walk here, ride your bike here, really have an opportunity to reconnect with the riverfront," said Brian Zimmerman, CEO of the Cleveland Metroparks. "So it brings a lot of elements together."
The Lake Link Trail will connect with the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath at the southern end of Scranton Peninsula and traverse a transformed 1.3-mile abandoned railroad right-of-way through the West Bank of the Flats, terminating at Wendy Park on Whiskey Island.
"You can go from the lake all the way to Steelyard Commons... you can go all the way down to Peninsula," said Jim Kastelic, project director of the Trust for Land. "Continue down to Akron, all the way south to Summitt Lake. So, you can go from here to Stark County, with no interruptions."
The Cleveland Foundation's centennial legacy grant series is in addition to the foundation's annual grant making in support of the community's priority areas: economic transformation, public school improvement, youth development, neighborhood revitalization and arts advancement. This latest grant represents $13 million in commitments in the past month to creating high-quality public spaces for Greater Cleveland residents, including $8 million in support of the transformation of Public Square, announced July 15.
"We've had our back turned too often to the water, said Bob Eckardt, Exective Vice President of the Cleveland Foundation. "We've used it for industrial purposes... now we're turning our face towards the river and the lake."
Project officials said the Lake Link Trail will be renamed "Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail" in recognition of the foundation's commitment to the project and its century-long mission of enhancing the lives of Greater Clevelanders through place-based philanthropy.
"Lake Erie is our region's most prized natural asset, yet too many residents have never been to the shores of the largest freshwater system on Earth," said Ronn Richard, Cleveland Foundation president and CEO. "By helping to connect Cleveland to our lakefront, we can promote healthy living, stimulate economic development and, ultimately, create a green city on a blue lake. We can't imagine a more fitting tribute to the people and the place that not only created our foundation 100 years ago, but continue to partner with us in our second century of place-based impact."