Euclid Lakefront Master Plan and Implementation
Although the City of Euclid sits at the shore of Lake Erie just east of Cleveland, for decades this community of 50,000 had little connection with its lake. Many residents viewed Lake Erie only through the lens of its 20th century industrial uses, and public lakefront access was minimal: of Euclid’s nearly five miles of shoreline, about 95 percent was privately owned. The City recognized that reinventing Euclid’s relationship with Lake Erie could help build a more positive identity and prosperous future for the City and its residents.
But it was a different challenge arising at the same time that would ultimately lead to expanded public access. Shoreline property owners were waging an ongoing and expensive battle to control erosion that was jeopardizing blufftop homes, apartments, land and infrastructure. By engaging with the community, SmithGroup and the City recognized a potential solution: the City would take on erosion control (funded largely by government funds and grants) through agreements with nearly 100 landowners in exchange for rights to develop a public trail and other recreational amenities along the lakefront. The success of this solution—fusing coastal resiliency with public access—created a replicable model for many Great Lakes communities to implement.
The first phase of the plan included a public fishing pier, which would become a key step toward illustrating the community’s commitment to implementing the plan’s recommendations and bolstering the support needed for further investment. The construction of a ¾-mile lakefront public access trail paralleling coastal structures and new beaches that stabilize the shoreline and enhance resilience marked the plan’s second phase. Future planned phases include the development of a recreational marina, a public beach house for community events, and a nature-based playground. When completed, the project will vastly enhance transportation connectivity by linking two public lakefront parks, underinvested neighborhoods, Euclid’s central business district and the Lake Erie Coastal Lakefront Bikeway.
SmithGroup helped the City of Euclid secure more than $13 million in funding toward the construction of the lakefront improvements. The plan is already spurring investment and public-private partnerships in the community: more than $17 million in federal, state, local and private funds support construction and renovation projects in adjacent shoreline areas and downtown. Euclid’s award-winning plan demonstrates that a public waterfront is not only an enjoyable amenity for its residents, but also an economic development tool and strategy that supports more equitable lakefront access for all.