Gov. John Kasich Says Cleveland Should Regain Control of Cleveland State Lakefront Park

The Ohio House introduced a transportation bill on Tuesday that would return control of Cleveland Lakefront State Park, a string of six parks along the Lake Erie shores plagued with crime and maintenance problems, to the city of Cleveland.

The bill, which is a part of Gov. Kasich's state budget plan, calls for the "mutual" termination of a 50-year lease between the city of Cleveland and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and authorizes Ohio to spend $14 million as a part of the agreement. Republicans say that the $14 million is an early-termination compensation for Cleveland, and should be used for lakefront investments and improvements.

The lease is currently in its 35th year. Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson supports the idea of returning the parks to local control, and this week wrote a letter to the governor asking for the early dismissal of the lease.

The six parks currently run by the state include: Villa Angela, Euclid Beach, Gordon Park, E. 55th St. Marina, and Edgewater. To date, they have accrued an estimated $16 million in deferred maintenance. Lacking adequate staff and funding, the parks have suffered from neglect and minimal police protection and suffer more serious crime than any of Ohio's other 74 parks combined.

The provision doesn't mention the Cleveland Metroparks, which has been suggested in the past as the likely manager of the parks if they should ever return to local control. Metroparks executive director Brian Zimmerman said that the Cleveland Metroparks are not involved in the current talks.

Hearings on the bill opened on Wednesday, but it is not likely that it will pass for months.