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Towpath Trail wins $3M in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funds

To paraphrase an old and wise saying: "you can learn more in defeat than in victory." Such was the case when Tim Donovan of Ohio Canal Corridor convened a team of local agencies (Cleveland Metroparks (Dick Kerber) , Trust for Public Lands (Dave Vasarelhyi) , City of Cleveland (George Cantor) , Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office (Stan Kosilesky) , and Cuyahoga RAP (Jim White) in the Spring of 2009 to rush a grant application for federal stimulus funding for the Towpath Trail project. The opportunity was provided through NOAA; it carried a short turn-around time - 21 days. The request of $9.2 million asked for funding to purchase 2 parcels along the Scranton Road Peninsula, rid them of any contamination and restore a natural stream bank treatment to the river's edge.

The application failed. The announcement came in July of 2009. The lesson learned was an easy one - asking for funding to restore property when you don't have site control is a losing proposition.

The lesson was not lost on this team.

During this same period, the announcement was made that President Obama's $450 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding was approved and a grant program would be introduced which would include funding opportunities for projects that addressed mitigation of "beneficial use impairments" in Areas of Concern (AOC) as defined by the US EPA. The Cuyahoga River is an AOC. The project outlined in the NOAA grant focused on restoration of "fish habitat" - a recognized, existing "benefical use impairment" in the Cuyahoga.

In simple terms, the team recognized that there would be real funding opportunity available under this initiative and felt that we had outlined a realistic approach in the project description included in the NOAA submission. But, just like NOAA, we believed that we needed to secure ownership of the property to find success.

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Upcoming Event/Program Dates

Cycle Canalway TBA- July 2014 Valley View Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Towpath Marathon Sunday, October 12, 2014 Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Towpath Half Marathon Sunday, April 6, 2014 Krieger Canalway Center and Lower Harvard
RiverSweep Saturday, May 10, 2014 Various Locations
Towpath Ten-Ten Sunday, June 15, 2014 Valley View Cuyahoga Valley National Park