Trail wins $3M in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funds
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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