Consolidate waterfront materials to open up Valley, reroute trucks
The following article appeared in the Summer newsletter of the Ohio Canal Corridor. It discusses a possible consolidation of the multitude of raw materials storage sites along the lake and riverfront at the ISG West (the former LTV West Side Steel Mill) site. Negotiations with the company are underway, and the benefits may be tremendous, including removing truck traffic from neighborhood streets and replanning the future of the industrial valley.
There's been a flurry of negotiations regarding the future of the former LTV West Side Steel Mill now owned by ISG. As of this writing, major questions concerning land parcel disbursement remain unanswered. This is what we know :
ISG has been and continues to be very supporting of and cooperative with the efforts to provide access for the Towpath Trail and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. In fact, these new owners have favored an alignment that remains along the Cuyahoga River to a point north of the navigation channel.
ISG has also been working with local council representatives and the administration to accommodate the relocation of a few neighborhood businesses into areas within the west side mill.
In December of 2002, the lakefront planning team invited Ohio Canal Corridor director Tim Donovan to share insight into the future operation of the Port Authority at an informational session held at the Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mr. Donovan suggested that a river port that reutilized the dock space within the ISG property could create new opportunities for the entire Cuyahoga River Valley if current raw material storage could migrate into this area and ultimately find direct freeway access through a new ramp from a 'new and improved' Innerbelt. Such a situation would relieve current truck routes that spill through Valley neighborhoods, and at the same time open new investment opportunities in the area of the Valley from the proposed Canal Basin Park to the I-490 Bridge.
This idea found interested parties in both the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Port Authority who have pursued purchase of available dock space from ISG. Even if the city and Port Authority are successful in these negotiations, can the new owners of the river dock create a situation where it becomes a major point of "throughput," where the dock can provide raw materials to a limited number of operations currently found on the river and lake?
If there isn't room to reposition all of the current river-based storage, can a system be developed where storage of the same raw materials (limestone, for instance) is shared by otherwise competing firms? Can the docks create a new environmental model where water quality impacts caused by run-off are resolved?
To do so requires nearby storage areas to accommodate the relocations. Herein lies the rub. At present, there is no land-use plan that details future uses for the west side property. So, while some of this vision may be realized, it is unclear if an integrated land-use strategy will allow for the more complex solution to find expression.
Finally, there is a growing rumor that developers are interested in a significant portion of the ISG property to accommodate a 'big box' development. This large retail center could logically include stores such as Home Depot or Best Buy. For some, this would be an opportunity to provide unrealized retail options for those Clevelanders who otherwise shop in the suburbs. For Cleveland neighborhoods, it may bring increased traffic, crime, and loss of small neighborhood shops along struggling Main streets.