Water-taxi service cruising for a possible comeback in Cleveland
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Water-taxi service may return to the Cuyahoga River as early as next year, with the help of Leadership Cleveland alumni.
Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman and Kate Brown, MetroHealth Systems' vice president of foundation and system philanthropy, made the announcement Wednesday night at the annual meeting of the Cleveland Leadership Center. The center sponsors Leadership Cleveland and other programs that stimulate civic engagement. Zimmerman and Brown are both Cleveland Leadership alums.
Brown said the inspiration for the project was the awareness "of the uptick in the number of people who consider downtown Cleveland home."
Rebirth of the water taxi system would connect visitors and residents to waterfront attractions. "You can get there from here," she said.
According to Leadership Cleveland, the Flats enjoyed water-taxi service more than a decade ago when the area was best known for its restaurants, bars and clubs. In an earlier interview, Zimmerman said a revived water taxi would reconnect the west bank and east bank of the Cuyahoga River to each other and the lakefront.
He said "25 people are tied into the overall success of this."
In November, The Plain Dealer reported the Gund Foundation was giving $2 million toward a project that includes completion of the Towpath Trail and the creation of a water taxi service that could include multiple boats and at least three stations along the river. The Trust for Public Land and LAND Studio were expected to be involved, according to that report.
Wednesday's announcement said Leadership Cleveland alumnus Dan Quigg, who teaches an entrepreneurship class at Kent State University, has enlisted his students to prepare a business plan and support the project as needed.
Zimmerman said it is possible Metroparks personnel could operate the taxi service.
The park system has become a major player in conserving the lakefront for public use, having taken up management of the former state-run parks on the lake just last June.
More recently, the park system announced plans to partner with the cities of Rocky River and Lakewood to operate a marine patrol along the lakefront. Metroparks rangers and police from those cities would operate the boat.
The annual meeting was at the OMNIMAX theater in the Great Lakes Science Center.