For years, City officials have struggled with what to do with McClelland Park located on the City of Erie’s upper eastside. Perhaps they have finally taken steps to determine its fate. The City has recently applied for funds to study how to include McClelland as part of an expanded “greenway” along the new Eastside Access Highway.
Not long ago, the Lake Erie Region Conservancy and the Erie County Environmental Coalition approached the City about protecting the park as open space. The two organizations envision the east side park as the cornerstone of a future greenway that follows McDaniel Run from its headwater wetlands in an undeveloped area bounded by East 38th and East 33rd streets and McClelland Avenue and Bird Drive north to Lake Erie.
The stream is tubed and goes underground just north of East 33rd Street, re-emerging south of East 32nd Street and flowing through McClelland Park. It briefly disappears underground again before reaching sunlight on the GE property. It then curves west, crosses Franklin Avenue and flows through the Franklin Terrace housing complex. It ducks beneath East Sixth Street and then continues to run free to the lake.
McClelland Park itself is 56 acres of open, undeveloped land that was originally purchased by the City to be developed as a community park. The City however never did put any effort or money into the park and in fact used it as a dump for short periods of time over the years but this activity was stopped after neighbors complained. The park has generally been used by a hand full of neighbors for passive recreational activities such as hiking and walking their dogs and children often use the park to ride their bikes on the many primitive trails.
Fortunately the current City administration sees the value of a user-friendly park in this area especially in relationship to the new highway. A properly developed park, similar to Frontier Park on the City’s west side would increase property values in the area while offering needed recreational opportunities to the local community. It would also make the area more attractive to new businesses and provide educational opportunities similar to those found at Asbury Woods.
Currently, a partnership is being formed between the Lake Erie Region Conservancy, Mercyhurst College and the Erie School District to adopted the park as a collaborative project.
Diehl Elementary School is only a couple of blocks away from the park. With the assistance of the college, the conservancy, and the staff at Diehl, students may get the opportunity to have a hand in developing their own neighborhood park.