By Sue Botos
City Council has floated legislation calling for a partnership with the Cleveland Metroparks on an application for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Recreational Harbor Evaluation Project.
With support from the Cleveland Yachting Club, the $402,000 grant would fund dredging of the Rocky River, from its mouth, south to the Metroparks public boat launch. The work would provide better access for recreational watercraft, as well as deepen the channel for freer flow of water beneath a frozen surface.
Councilman at Large Dave Furry commented that the grant requires a matching fund of 1 percent, or $4,020, from applicants. He said he anticipates support from the city of Lakewood and other sources, which would reduce the city’s portion of the match.
While the Metroparks and the yacht club do their own spot dredging, safety-service Director Mary Kay Costello said that there has been no comprehensive digging done in the river mouth for about 12 years. While the hope is to create enough draft for a U.S. Coast Guard ice cutter, Costello told West Life that she would be satisfied with giving water enough room to move.
“This year we had so much ice we couldn’t even get to the mouth. We want to see that the water has enough space to exit to the lake under the ice. Hopefully, a good flow will cut back on ice jams,” Costello said.
During the past winter, the Yacht Club basin area had to be evacuated at least twice due to the threat of flooding after ice dams broke.
Costello added that a number of circumstances lined up to provide the opportunity to apply for the grant. She said that Councilman at Large Chris Klym brought Ken Alvey of the Lake Erie Marine Association to the table. In addition, Costello said that Kristen Trolio of the Metroparks’ outreach department was also instrumental in putting together the grant application.
“The grant opportunity just blossomed from there,” she said, adding that the dredging would allow greater access to Lake Erie from the river. “The critical part is that so many people can take advantage of the free boat launch,” she stated. Costello added that Lakewood has “pledged a letter of support.”
Costello credited the Metroparks with moving quickly on the application. “In a week and a half, we put together a grant application, and the Metroparks made it happen,” she stated.
This collaboration represents the second recent partnership between Rocky River and the Metroparks. The park system has agreed to provide $266,300 for the purchase of a 27-foot boat for the newly created Westshore Marine Patrol, which consists of law enforcement officers from Rocky River, Lakewood and the Metroparks.
Council recently approved the purchase of the new boat and is ironing out the details of the three-way collaboration. The old boat, Argus IV, will remain in service until the arrival of the new craft in June or July. It will then be returned to ODNR.