Friends of Horseshoe Lake present plan to save it from being turned into wetlands

Residents voice their opinions at Cleveland Heights City Council meeting
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 12:34 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - The Shaker Lakes have served the community for more than two centuries. The Shakers building the lakes 200 years ago and the Van Sweringen brothers, who designed Shaker Heights 100 years ago, built the city around the lakes.

But now, because of an aging and deteriorating dam, storm water runoff and flooding concerns, and safety, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has drained Horseshoe Lake with plans to turn it into a wetland.

“Destroying Horseshoe Lake is a destructive process, not progress,” said resident Christine Hagy during public comments at the Cleveland Heights council meeting, where the Friends of Horseshoe Lake unveiled their alternative plan to save Horseshoe Lake.

But others showed up at the meeting to express support for the Sewer District’s plan

“I remain in favor of the Sewer District’s plan including the plan for Horseshoe Lake,” said Len Friedson. “And I urge both city councils to remain focused on the objectives of public safety, flood management, and water quality and financial impact.”

The Friends of Horseshoe Lake hired an engineering firm to devise an alternative plan for the Sewer District’s $26.3 million dollars to fix the problems.

“We believe, for a similar amount of money, maybe less, we can actually preserve Horseshoe Lake, improve storm water management, put in a new spillway, put in an emergency spillway, and not have to take as much dredging off-site so we believe that should be given careful consideration,” said the group’s attorney, Anthony Coyne.

The Sewer District has defended its wetland proposal, writing it’s “supported by modeling, data, and analysis.”

“I know they’re looking for ways to balance habitat needs, water quality and flood control and the needs of the community, the need for beauty and the need for recreation,” said Deborah Van Kleef, recognizing the dilemma.

Many resident who spoke expressed sentimentality about Horseshoe Lake.

“There’s nowhere else in Cleveland Heights you can go to watch the sunrise over a beautiful plain of water,” said one.

“That’s a free lake for everybody to go to and take their children,” teacher Corky Roberts told city council.

“I think it’s very important to save the lake,” said Jeff Ballas.

The Sewer District says the next steps are a one year of pre-planning and then another year of planning with community feedback starting in the summer, including surveys, meetings, and pop up events.

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