The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Currents

July 2, 2007

A vision for Walnut Beach

Plan would use breakwall as base for 1.3-mile path to Ashtabula Lighthouse

By CARL E. FEATHER

Lifestyle Editor

When Rick Brewer looks at the west Ashtabula Harbor breakwall, he sees more than a long line of huge stone blocks stretching for 1.3 miles to the Ashtabula Lighthouse. He sees the foundation for what could become a local recreational resource and national tourist attraction.

Brewer has proposed building a walkway to the Ashtabula Lighthouse from Walnut Beach as a project that would use some of the anticipated Natural Resources Damages (NRD) money arising from the Ashtabula River remediation.

Brewer is coordinator of the Ashtabula River Partnership, however, he presents the breakwater walkway project as a citizen and it does not come with partnership endorsement.

A preliminary engineering report prepared by Smolen Engineering in Jefferson calls for a 12-foot-wide deck constructed of super plasticized concrete on top of the breakwater to create a level, smooth path to the lighthouse. The path would be used for bicycle, pedestrian and other non-motorized access to the lighthouse.

This walkway would do more than just connect people to a destination; the entire stretch would offer recreational opportunities - jogging, roller blading, bicycling across it's concrete surface; fishing from six handicapped-accessible platforms/emergency care areas with park benches; kite flying, sunset watching and wildlife observation it's entire length. The walkway would connect to a nature trail and provide elevated views of a shoreline marsh, a rare habitat along Lake Erie.

"If it could be done, it would give the public the opportunity to experience on that breakwall something they normally would not get," says Brewer. "I just think that anyone and everyone in the community and those who visit the community could utilize that."

Kevin Grippi, a Smolen Engineering employee and former administrator of the Western Reserve Greenway Trail, says the walkway would essentially become the final stretch of the WRGT, which now ends at West 52nd Street. However, an effort is under way to connect Walnut Beach to the WRGT using a series of short connectors through the city.

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