Ed Hauser makes a difference, so consultants will study Cleveland port needs and Whiskey Island

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 06/05/2005 - 09:15.

Throughout the history of Northeast Ohio, "Heavy Industry" has been a two-edged sword. Largely due to our water access and availability of natural resources within easy shipping range, steel became big business here and led to great wealth and many jobs. In the process, heavy industry destroyed our natural habitats and created harmful air and water pollution - today, Northeast Ohio is the 8th most polluted region in America. Over the past few decades, old rust-best industry has declined in all of America and historically industrial regions like NEO have needed to envision "New Economy" futures.

Thus, it is especially fascinating that when former Cleveland steel giant LTV cast off its employees and went bankrupt, their computer programmer Ed Hauser chose to evolve his social role from a cog in the steel machinery into an activist pursuing a natural habitat for this region. He has followed his heart and volunteered his time and energy to save for this region a lingering natural Cleveland lakefront asset few knew existed, yet which is one of our region's most unique natural resources... undeveloped land in the "Flats" called Whiskey Island.

If you spend any time in the civic space in NEO you've seen or met Ed Hauser - "THE Friend of Whiskey Island". He's a one-man PR and lobbying machine who speaks up at any forum and has distributed over 10,000 brochures - attends every public hearing and pushes for more - all to make certain public officials consider the interests of the public in determining the fate Cleveland's only lakefront natural habitat. Ed's dedication has helped make a former Conrail throughway into a remarkable natural area and park in the shadows of Cleveland's historic industrial waste-scape. Working with former Whiskey Island owner Dan T. Moore and current owners the Cuyahoga County Commissioners, Ed has saved this gem for generations of NEOans to come... unless the Cleveland/Cuyahoga Port Authority has its way. The port has gone to great lengths to buy or seize the land to add to their inventory for future port expansion.

You can read about this fantastic natural area, at the west side of the Cleveland Flats, in a 05.01.05 article posted to REALNEO... you'll see there many photos and documents that Ed has circulated in the interest of keeping Whiskey Island public. Having toured the property on several occasions, I can say it is worth keeping in the public domain as a prime center-piece of regional lakefront development. From Whiskey Island, one clearly sees past public authorities, industry and developers have not cared about the public interest, and the port has not developed the lakefront well - the entire area is covered with low-value piles of rocks and a crisscross of tracks and fences and abandoned and underutilized buildings - some quite historic - with nothing in place for the public for miles to be seen, other than run-down public housing projects well reflecting the lack of vision of public officials of the past.

As we enter a new era when every developer in town sees big profit potential in condo'ing lake and river views, and old-economy wastelands like the flats-lands are now recognized for their huge development value, there is a feeding frenzy for any land seen as waterfront and upscaleable. In speaking with Ed Hauser about his vision for keeping Whiskey Island public, his one wish is that all the powers that be, for the brief slice of history that they be, slow down and think about the long-term future before acting to destroy Whiskey Island. Ed asked Cuyahoga County and the Port Authority to take a break from politics to study the long term needs of the community, and their own institutions, and Ed succeeded.

In an article in the 06.03.05 Cleveland Plain Dealer it was announced that Cuyahoga County will hire a consultant to provide an impartial analysis of the long term needs of the Port here, and that will help determine the future of Whiskey Island. Read the article below and realize this is the result of one man's effort - Ed Hauser - and that we each have the power within us to make such great contributions to society, if we use our power for good.

As for what is next for Whiskey Island, the next step is for Ed to continue helping to keep the consulting and deal-making process open, honest and public, and REALNEO will help keep the community informed...

County OKs $100,000 for port consultant - Friday, June 03, 2005 - Sarah Hollander - Plain Dealer Reporter

How much land does the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority need to do its job? And where should it be located now and in the future?

Cuyahoga County commissioners voted Thursday to pay a consultant $100,000 to answer these and other questions.

The Port Authority has paid for its own capacity studies, but critics claim they're biased or incomplete.

"Until the community resolves a lot of these fundamental port issues, we're going to have a very difficult time catalyzing lakefront and riverfront plans," county Planning Director Paul Alsenas said.

With its location on prime downtown docks, the port has surfaced as a main player in the area's revived interest in lakefront planning.

The port agreed with the city to eventually move its operations west to Whiskey Island to open the docks for residential and recreational uses. The move to Whiskey Island would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, close a marina and add more land along the breakwater there.

Port President Gary Failor said another study is OK as long as the consultant has maritime expertise and the port doesn't have to pay.

The commissioners have not chosen the consultant.

Commissioner Tim Hagan said he felt a responsibility to support the study because county residents pay most of the port's operating tax.

Ed Hauser, a member of Friends of Whiskey Island, has been pushing for an independent study for years. He doesn't want the port to expand on county-owned land on Whiskey Island, which he wants to remain a public park and marina.

Others have complained that the port uses too much lakefront space for warehousing goods that could be warehoused inland to open the lakefront to better use.

Port officials counter that the industry is cyclical and the city needs to be prepared for busy years.

The study will look into economic trends in the industry, the flow of cargo through the terminals, docks and warehouses, and issues related to public access.

It will not include a review of the port's development finance programs and general governance.

Plain Dealer Reporter Joan Mazzolini contributed to this story. To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: shollander [at] plaind [dot] com, 216-999-4816