'Godfather' basks in glory at opening of Scranton Road segment of Towpath Trail in Cleveland

CLEVELAND - The Scranton Road section of the Ohio & Erie Canalway opened Monday, as dignitaries cut the ribbon on the 2/3 of a mile segment in Cleveland’s Flats.

One by one speakers Sen. Sherrod Brown, Congresswoman Marcie Kaptur and County Executive Ed FitzGerald praised the collaborative effort that brought the $9 million path and park to fruition. 

The final speaker was retired congressman Ralph Regula, whose vision and congressional clout were credited with making the park a reality.

Regula, a Republican from Navarre, was a ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee. He retired from Congress in 2009 after 18 terms.

Tim Donovan, Canalway Partners executive director, dubbed Regula “The Godfather of the Towpath” for his stewardship of the 101 miles of the canal and bringing federal dollars to the region to aid in its rebirth as a recreation facility.

The new Scranton Flats/Towpath Trail includes a fish habitat. Steel sections of the river bank were removed and aquatic plants introduced to help restore the river and aid marine life.

A pier in the park jutting into the river has been nicknamed the “Scranton Spoon” in a nod to the area where fish will feed.

The park’s opening comes just weeks after the 45th anniversary of the infamous 1969 Cuyahoga River fire.

The short stretch of publicly funded trail in Cleveland brings to 85 the number of miles of towpath trail built. Sections from Steelyard Commons north to Scranton Road and the northernmost section to Canal Basin Park could be completed by 2018.

Scranton Flats received the largest combined Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding - $3 million - for a single project as well as the largest Clean Ohio Conservation Fund award - $3.175 million - in the state's history.

Additional funding came from the State of Ohio Cultural Arts Facilities, a Clean Ohio Trail Grant and an award from U.S. Fish & Wildlife.

The trail’s southern terminus is in Tuscarawas County.

The Metroparks will maintain the Scranton Flats/Towpath Trail.

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