Wendy Park is the terminus of CMG’s Cleveland Flats Linkages Plan, located on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. The park could be a five-minute walk from surrounding neighborhoods, but rail line tracks, freeways, and private industrial land has historically been given priority over pedestrian access. The new Cleveland Flats Linkages Plan and the Wendy Park Management Plan bridge that divide, providing clean and safe access to a natural Lake Erie shoreline. These improvements organize redevelopment in the Cleveland Flats around quality open space, providing residents with access to trails, fishing, picnicking, kayaking, and bird watching.
The primary study area of the Management Plan includes the 23-acre park between the Cuyahoga River, Lake Erie, and Whiskey Island Bay. This open space, contiguous with active industry, provides a great opportunity to celebrate Cleveland’s geography, ecology, industry, and cultural history. By exhibiting sustainable solutions to challenges in an area that has historically been associated with environmental degradation, the Lake Link Trail and reimagined Wendy Park signify a different future. At the new Environmental Justice Learning Center and throughout the park, the city can test and share ideas about sustainable building and treatment technologies, educate the next generation about environmental literacy, and nurture the site’s fledgling ecology. The addition of a six-acre constructed marsh along the lake edge will foster a native freshwater habitat. The construction, planting, and maintenance of the marsh will also provide opportunities for students and volunteers to learn about the native ecology of the lake and have a direct relationship with its stewardship.
At the time of our planning process, the waterfront land was held by Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. The goal of the Management Plan was to demonstrate that Wendy Park could provide increased recreational and ecological value, in order to be considered for the portfolio of Cleveland Metroparks, a regional park management organization. Our accompanying work on the Lake Link Trail connected underserved urban neighborhoods to regional parks and the waterfront at Wendy Park, and showed how the sum of these projects aligned with Metroparks charter and completed a missing segment of their regional open space network. Cleveland Metroparks now owns the park, which means there are resources available for investment and maintenance.