From The Master Plan - Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation
Recent studies have raised awareness about an obesity epidemic affecting American adults and children, causing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and dozens of other chronic illnesses. A well developed recreation plan for the neighborhoods will enable and encourage residents to develop and maintain healthy and active lifestyles.
Goal 18: Build connections to the Towpath Trail to provide access to the neighborhoods.
The Towpath Trail has emerged as the premier trail project in the region. It provides access through the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway, stretching from Cleveland to Dover-New Philadelphia. In addition, the Towpath is also the northernmost section of the 453-mile Ohio-to-Erie Trail, a cross-state, off-road trail extending from the Ohio River at Cincinnati to Lake Erie at Cleveland. The Towpath is often referred to as the “trunk” of a trail system, and the connectors will form the “branches” that integrate the trail network into Cleveland neighborhoods.
The Treadway Creek Greenway, the first connector trail from a west side Cleveland neighborhood to the Towpath Trail, opened in late 2007. Located in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, the trail connects Harmody Park to the vicinity of Harvard and Jennings Roads, traversing the ravine carrying Treadway Creek. The $1.3 million project protected 20 acres of the ravine and created a trail two-thirds of a mile in length. The trail includes retaining walls of varying heights planted with native plants, interpretive, wayfinding and educational signage, scenic lookout areas, custom benches, and handcrafted timber railings. Restoration elements in the ravine include erosion and water quality improvements, invasive plant removal, and planting of a native grass seed mix and native woodland wildflowers.
The greenway is already a popular neighborhood gathering spot and demonstrates the potential for other connectors and trail projects in Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn. This project illustrates the design characteristics and community benefits of connections.
Pursue completion of trail connectors through the lower Big Creek Valley.
The Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan identifies specific trail alignments for connecting the neighborhoods to the Towpath Trail via the Lower Big Creek valley.
The Valley trail is proposed to begin at Ridge Road and travel eastward on the existing trail through the Metroparks Brookside Reservation. At the eastern end of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo property, near the Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge, the trail would continue along the bottomlands. Upon reaching the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Jennings Road, it would connect with the Towpath Trail a short distance away.
The Valley trail also provides connectors up to the neighborhoods at the north and south ends of the Fulton Road Bridge, the south end of the Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge and at Calgary Park.
The Upland trail would begin at Ridge Road and travel eastward through the Brookside Reservation and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. At Pearl Road the trail would exit the valley on the south side and continue eastward, making connections along the Henninger Landfill, and the Young property. The trail would continue as part of the street network for a short distance and then link with the Treadway Creek Greenway, descending back into the valley and joining the Valley trail Harvard Avenue and Jennings Road.
The completion of these trails would dramatically alter how the neighborhoods interact with the lower Big Creek Valley. Rather than a dividing line, the portion of the valley from the Zoo eastward to the Cuyahoga River could become a unifying element for the neighborhoods to share.
Assist in efforts to complete a trail through the upper Big Creek Valley in Brooklyn.
One of the goals of the Cleveland Metroparks is to link the reservations with a trail system. Currently there is no link between the Brookside Reservation and the Big Creek Reservation in Brooklyn and Parma. The 2009 Big Creek Greenway Trail Alignment & Neighborhood Connector Plan assesses the feasibility of establishing a trail link and preservation areas in the City of Brooklyn. In the southwest corner of Brooklyn, the proposed system would link to the Cleveland Metroparks’ Big Creek Reservation, which continues south into other communities. In the northeast corner of Brooklyn, the proposed system would link to the Cleveland Metroparks’ Brookside Reservation. The connection to the Brookside Reservation would also create the link to the Lower Big Creek as recommended in the Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan.
The implementation of a trail through the city of Brooklyn would close a gap in the Cleveland Metroparks’ Emerald Necklace that has existed since its establishment in the early 20th century. Of interest to Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn is that the proximity of this trail would greatly enhance the recreational opportunities for Cleveland residents heading west from the neighborhoods, and conversely open access to the Cleveland portion of the Big Creek valley from a heavily populated area of Cuyahoga County.
Therefore, although the proposed trail is situated outside the city of Cleveland, its potential impact on Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn means that the effort should be supported as part of watershed-wide efforts.
Goal 19: Create recreation destinations in/adjacent to the Lower Big Creek Valley, expanding upon the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s current regional draw, proximity to the Towpath Trail, and the Ohio & Erie Canalway America’s Byway.
The Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan envisioned the creation of several recreation uses that, if successful, will dramatically change the physical character and perception about the Lower Big Creek Valley between Pearl Road and the Cuyahoga River. The 2008 Old Brooklyn/Brooklyn Centre Market Strategy prepared as a companion to this plan confirmed that these uses could be viable.
Pursue the potential for adventure sports, camping, and other outdoor activities.
The Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan explored possible land use changes as specific parcels within the greenway. The land use discussion included: a possible location for camping to support the need for overnight accommodations identified by previous planning for the Ohio & Erie Canalway; a site for non-motorized adventures sports to create economic development opportunities for the neighborhoods; accommodation for a future Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad stop and Towpath Trail connection as supported by previous planning for the Towpath Trail project; and open space restoration to restore access to nature and provide an amenity for adjacent land use changes, renovations, and infill development.
The Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan recommended placement of the camping facility within the valley, west of Jennings Road. The Henninger Landfill location was suggested as the non-motorized adventure sports location.
Encourage compatible uses for buildings within – or overlooking – the valley.
Several of the largest parcels situated in the Big Creek Valley between the Brooklyn Brighton Bridge and the Cuyahoga River do not contain structures, even though they are in active industrial use. There are a small number of buildings within this area however, and the Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan outlines recommendations for their future. At a minimum, these low-lying properties should incorporate planting schemes to enhance the riparian zone and limit paved areas. Properties that pose a greater risk to water quality, such as the Brookside Auto salvage yard, should be removed from the floodplain at the first opportunity. For properties that lie outside the flood hazard area, such as the structures at the perimeter of the Harshaw Chemical site, appropriate uses should be developed that are compatible with the intended future activities in the vicinity.
Finally, proposals to re-use the former YMCA building on the east side of Pearl Road in Brooklyn Centre, a prominent building outside the Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan study area, should consider uses that value both its location on the valley rim and the views afforded from the structure.
Improve the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo entrance on Pearl Road to increase its visibility and access to both neighborhoods.
Work with the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to realign Wildlife way as recommended in the Pearl Road TLCI Corridor Plan.
Goal 20: Promote recreational facilities and programs for all residents, including children, young adults, and senior citizens.
Increasingly, residents and businesses want to settle in communities that provide quality recreational amenities including parks, sports fields and courts, and indoor recreational facilities. These recreational venues are not simply community amenities; they serve many critical community functions including promoting physical and emotional health and encouraging community interaction. Parks make perhaps the biggest visual impact of all recreational venues. According to the Trust for Public Land, parks provide a great number of benefits: “Collectively, [parks] provide playfields, teach ecology, offer exercise trails, mitigate flood waters, host rock concerts, protect wildlife, supply space for gardens, give a respite from commotion, and much more”. During the city beautiful movement at the turn of the century, urban planners considered parks necessities and felt that parks should be available to all of a city’s residents. However, most American communities are lacking in appropriate recreational and park spaces. Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre have a number of park facilities and programs, but the neighborhoods must ensure that appropriate recreational opportunities are provided to all segments of the neighborhoods and that these opportunities are accessible by a number of different modes of transportation.
Increase use of recreation facilities and parks through programming and the accommodation of multiple uses.
Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre have a number of quality recreational facilities including Estabrook Recreation Centre, Brookside Reservation, numerous city parks, trails, cemeteries and institutional land that residents and visitors of Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre use for a variety of active and passive recreation. However, many of these facilities and open spaces are not being used to their fullest extent. Often these places are geared towards only one activity, thereby limiting the range of social interaction that could be possible. Limited design also means that the needs and interests of some populations are not being met.
Construct shelters, pavilions, benches, and tables, in addition to playgrounds and sports fields or courts
Construct shelters, pavilions, benches, and tables, in addition to playgrounds and sports fields or courts to accommodate a spectrum of activities simultaneously. With these accommodations, passive and group activities such as socializing, knitting, community gardening, chess playing can occur alongside more physical activities and events. This ensures that most residents’ recreational needs are met, engenders interaction between people of diverse backgrounds and ages, and ensures that the parks and recreational facilities have “eyes” throughout the day.
Assess current programs:
evaluate the participation rates of existing programs and activities to gauge interest in existing programs and to determine best hours of operation. Measure participation rates of all programs and activities that are currently offered at neighborhood recreation facilities in order to determine which programs should be expanded, continued, or reduced, as well as to determine the best times of the day and year to offer these programs.
Coordinate with Cleveland Schools for programming coordination and facilities sharing.
Oftentimes, the recreational facilities that are most heavily used are those that share space and programming with other community facilities such as schools. This way, it is more convenient for youth and parents to participate in activities, and both facilities benefit from increased communication regarding programs.
Organize activities and events
Organize activities and events, such as walking or racing events and bike tours to promote the area’s recreational amenities. Engage community members who are new to the area or have not yet experienced these amenities in a new and exciting way, such as park concerts, community dances, and races. An organized tour or event through the Riverside Cemetery Foundation, a place of worship or other neighborhood group may provide this critical introduction or reintroduction.
Increase the number of and access to neighborhood parks and open space.
Many American cities are lacking both adequate amounts and access to parks and other recreational facilities. According to the Trust for Public Land, Cleveland has about 7.0 acres of park land per 1,000 people. The average for other cities that share similar densities is 9.3 acres per 1,000 people. The National Parks and Recreation Association’s (NRPA) standards for amount of park space vary from 4 to 17 acres per 1,000 people. According to many planners, these standards are antiquated and are based loosely on available levels of service for each city. A better indication of park and recreation accessibility is distance of each resident to a park.
Being able to walk to a park not only increases the likelihood that people will patronize the park, but also strengthens community bonds: when parks are spaced far apart, patrons tend to come from different neighborhoods, and “going to the park” becomes less of a community event. In the 1990s, NRPA identified service areas and optimal sizes for various recreational venues:
- Mini-parks: ¼ mile service area, no less than 1 acre in size;
- Neighborhood parks and playgrounds: ¼ - ½ mile service area, should be 15 or more acres in size;
- Community parks: 1 to 2 mile service area, should be 25 or more acres in size.
In 1988, Cleveland set a standard of providing every resident a park within a ½ mile radius. Yet the argument has been that even ½ mile is too far for some populations, including youth and the elderly. The City of Cleveland has come to agree with this assessment and in the Connecting Cleveland City-Wide 2020 Plan, established a recreation goal to “ensure that a wide range of recreation facilities are equitably distributed throughout the city, with playgrounds located within approximately ¼-mile (a 5-minute walk) of all residents.
Ensure all residents are within ¼ mile radius of a mini-park or playground.
Based on a map of the current parks, nearly all parts of the neighborhoods are within ½ mile of a park. But on closer analysis, not everyone is within a ¼ mile of a mini-park. In the event vacant land becomes available, vacant properties should be targeted for mini-parks in those areas indicated as lacking such facilities. Determine where new parks and playgrounds are needed, and work with the Cleveland Parks and Recreation Department to establish new parks. See Map 5.1 on the next page.
Link parks and recreation facilities to each other and the communities that they serve
Link parks and recreation facilities to each other and the communities that they serve through various means of alternative transportation. Establishing parks and mini-parks takes large amounts of money and time. Simultaneously linking these destinations through public transportation and a trail network will also increase access.
- Consult the Cleveland Bikeway Master Plan and the Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan to determine where and how safe, off-road passage between neighborhoods, recreational facilities and parks should be constructed. Use sidewalks, easements, and rights-of-way to create a multi-use trail. Create and distribute maps detailing these safe-passage routes. Other sources of information and assistance include the National Center for Walking and Biking.
- Use the Treadway Creek Trail and Greenway as a model to connect neighborhoods with parks and open space and pursue other recommendations put forth in the Lower Big Creek Greenway R&R Plan.
- Work with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to provide a community circulator that connects neighborhoods, schools and senior centers with the community recreation facilities and venues.
Promote the area’s natural and recreational amenities through public outreach and advertizing.
Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre have superior recreational and natural amenities in and around the neighborhoods, including Brookside Reservation, Loew, Calgary and Harmody Parks, Treadway Creek Trail and Greenway, the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, and the Towpath Trail. In order to ensure that all residents take advantage of these amenities and the programs and events offered in these venues, it is essential that the communities promote their existence and grow their programs in such a way that they fit naturally into the way of life of Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre residents.
Provide an online community calendar
Provide an online community calendar of all community events, detailing what is available when, where, cost, etc. A link to this calendar could be posted on OBCDC’s webpage, both Council members’ webpages, the Cuyahoga Valley’s Towpath webpage, and the City of Cleveland’s webpage.
Create an informational brochure
Create an informational brochure to be made available at schools, senior homes and other facilities such as banks, the OBCDC.