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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb holds town hall event on future of downtown lakefront

Thursday's town hall marked the beginning of a series of listening events designed to get feedback from the community.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb discussed his vision for plans along Cleveland’s lakefront at a town hall meeting on Thursday evening.

The plans discussed included ways to bridge the divide between the North Coast and City Hall. The city has long looked at what to do with its waterfront area for years, perhaps as far back as 1849, when the railroad lines were first built.

More recently, there have been iterations of what could be done. Last year, the Haslam group revealed its vision for a land bridge, giving people easier access to the lakefront and FirstEnergy Stadium.

Now the city is doing the same. Thursday's town hall marked the beginning of a series of listening events designed to get feedback from the community.

Clevelanders, like artist Mary Kay Thomas, were there to give their input at the town hall. There was a 45-minute brainstorming session to answer questions like what the bridge should look like and how involved it should be. Options ranged from no change, to removing the Shoreway for more green space.

For Thomas, she sees a space that brings people together. That was her goal depicted in a painting she shared with 3News' Emma Henderson. The theme? Instead of east siders and west siders, everyone is just Clevelanders. "Freedom of space," she says of what she'd like to see happen. "Using it for festivals and opening up our downtown area."

Residents of Cleveland are optimistic that this could be the vision that moves the lakefront space forward, but are well aware of the changes that were never made.

“They talk about things like that, but nothing ever comes to fruition,” said Cleveland resident Freya Turner.

Turner enjoyed the thought of having a walking bridge from Mall C to the North Coast.

3News spoke to visitors in Mall C, who like many, asked, "How do I get down there?"

Visitors from Cincinnati thought a bridge connecting Mall C and the North Coast would be beneficial to tourists like themselves, so they could connect easier with First Energy Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Credit: Haslam Sports Group
Proposed land bridge that would link downtown Cleveland to the lakefront.

Bibb said in a statement, “for too long our community has been physically and socially disconnected from the waterfront.”

The town hall event came on the heels of the city of Cleveland announcing that it is seeking a consultant to conduct an economic development analysis of Burke Lakefront Airport.

The analysis will consider a range of options for alternate development of the current airport, including a 445-acre park to a mixed-use development. 

You can watch livestream coverage of the Thursday's town hall below.

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