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Great Lakes Article:

Agency Aids Port Clinton in Protecting Shore Parcel
Toledo Blade
Published June 21, 2006

PORT CLINTON - A national nonprofit agency that helps communities find money to develop parks and green space is working with Port Clinton to buy nearly four acres along the Lake Erie shore.

The proposal for the Port Clinton Lakeshore Preserve, to be announced today, is designed to protect the wetlands and prevent development along the lake.

Most of the land, valued at $1.4 million, is owned by the True family trust or by family members who have moved away.

It stretches from Water Works Park at the mouth of the Portage River east to the municipal Water's Edge Beach.

Alison Falls, an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands' Ohio office, said yesterday that when the new property is connected to land the city now owns, it will offer a mile of beach access.

"This may be one of the longest stretches of public access along Lake Erie," said Ms. Falls, a Catawaba Island resident who has served as a catalyst for the proposed sale.

The Trust for Public Lands helps communities and government agencies find money and grants that might be used to protect that land. It helps complete the transaction by optioning or purchasing a property temporarily until it can be permanently protected by a government or community land trust.

In the case of the Port Clinton proposal, the Trust for Public Lands will hold an option for a year while the city seeks the funds.

"The community really needs to come together and support this," Ms. Falls said.

Complicating the proposal are nearly two dozen property owners on the south side of Perry Street, which parallels the lakefront.

Those homes have property-leaseholders' agreements that grant them property rights to the beach.

Linda Hartlaub, president of city council, said the Trust is negotiating with them, although the Perry Street property owners have not signed anything.

Ms. Hartlaub, who guided the project through city council, said the project will fulfill a goal to keep development off the beach.

"We're looking to restore the wetlands to a natural state," she said.

Christopher Knopf, the Ohio director for the Trust for Public Lands, said the agency has helped the state to preserve 9,500 acres in the last 30 years.

The biggest project, 1,300 acres, was set aside three years ago along Sandusky Bay.

He said Ms. Falls approached him about the issue and noted that the potential sale of the property was generally well-known in the community. He said the agency has a letter of intent from the family and the True trust.

"I saw a great opportunity," Ms. Falls said. "But it is a complex transaction that's going to take imagination and patience."

Deed restrictions will be incorporated into the transaction that will prevent any type of development.

The agency will work with Port Clinton to find sources of money. The Trust for Public Land is supported by individuals, foundations, and businesses.

"At some point the ball is handed over, so to speak, to a citizens advisory committee," Mr. Knopf said.


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