Your Port Authority at work…..a job well done

Opening Day at a Very Special Ball Park

Saturday, July 28th, was opening day at Lake Health Miracle Park, a unique project to give kids with special needs the chance to play baseball. The new park, in the shadow of the Lake County Captains ballpark, was the idea of Mark Rantala, the Director of the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority. Rantala said he heard about a similar park in Findlay, Ohio and thought there should be one like it here in Lake County. “I did a sketch on a piece of paper and then came out here and stepped it off and said it will fit here if we get the captains to give us 26 parking spaces. The Captains gave us 26 parking spaces,” said Rantala.

The idea was pitched to the Miracle League of Lake County, where Judy Moran says not only did the Captains allow them to have the 26 parking spaces, but no one she approached to help pay for the $1.2 million project ever turned her down. “We have made numerous presentations together and no one has ever denied us, no one has ever said no because its such a good, heart-warming project,” said Moran.

The payoff on Saturday was indeed heartwarming for the organizers, volunteers, players and their parents. “It’s fun to see my daughter get to participate in something she watches from the stands all the time,” said Brad Rohl of Thompson, who says his daughter watches her twin brother play baseball and can now play the game herself. The new field has a special rubberized surface that is friendly to wheelchairs and walkers. Players are assigned volunteers who are with them on the field and as they round the bases. “All smiling faces. It’s a very supportive, non-judgmental environment and it’s just wonderful to see, yes,” said Tiffany Lovett, whose son Jeffrey was playing on Saturday.

In addition to the ball field, the park includes a playground that is also friendly to kids with special needs, but is open to all kids. “It shows how good Lake County is as a place to do business, in which to live, and we just thought, as the port authority we are shaping the future of Lake County and this was an opportunity to do just that,” said Rantala. Click here to read the full Fox 8 article and watch the video of opening day! Click here to read the News Herald article as well.

New ADA Accessible Canoe/Kayak Launch Opens!

Sunday, July 29th, at the start of Eastlake’s Nature Weekend, a ribbon cutting was held to open the new ADA accessible canoe/kayak launch at Erie Road Park in Eastlake. The park, which is located at the intersection of Admiral Drive and Erie Road, is the only public access point for boating and canoeing along a 15-mile span of Lake Erie between Wildwood Park in Cleveland and the Mentor Lagoons Marina.

“Northeast Ohio has several impressive rivers draining to Lake Erie, including the Chagrin, Rocky, Cuyahoga and Grand rivers,” said Senior Project Manager Alicia Beattie of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners. “Many people pick up kayaking as a hobby each year and part of the fun is exploring new places to paddle. Paddlers of all abilities and backgrounds will be able to benefit from the new improvement at Erie Road Park.”

Eastlake was assisted in preparing a grant application for the Lakeshore Improvement Project by the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, which was then submitted to the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority. The port authority and the Lake County Commissioners both approved the application, and $27,331 was awarded in grant money from bed tax funds allocated for lakeshore improvement projects.

The Cleveland Foundation also provided a $50,000 grant which will fund the design of a new permeable pavement parking lot and streamside plantings at the location. Metal Craft Docks, a Lake County business which built the dock, worked with GPD Group who designed the parking area for the location to ensure the parking lot aligned with the ramp and launch.

The improvement of Erie Road Park has been priority for the Eastlake community and regional partners, according to the news release. In 2013, a master plan was developed with funding from the Cleveland Foundation. This project significantly expands public access and recreational opportunities not just for Eastlake, but for the region, and it is an important step forward in the implementation of Lake County’s Coastal Development Plans,” said Peter Zahirsky, the port authority’s director of coastal development. “These quality of life enhancements further our mission of talent attraction and retention in Lake County.” Click here to read the full News Herald article.

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