Permanently Close the Gates on Cliff Drive in Kessler Park

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The Cliff Drive Corridor Management Committee and supporters would like to request full time, permanent closure of the gates on Cliff Drive in Kessler Park. 

Currently, the park and scenic drive serve as a perpetual dumping ground for illegal dumping by contractors and regional residents.  Unsavory activity, such as prostitution and drug use, is a daily occurrence in broad daylight during weekday hours.  Cars and motorcycles use the drive as their drag strip.  The roadbed infrastructure is crumbling, literally, and geotechnical studies have indicated massive costs for restoration.

All of this adds up to a public place that is trapped within a perpetual cycle of negativity.  Legitimate users are afraid to use Cliff Drive and Kessler Park due to perceived or real safety concerns.  This all changes every weekend when the gates are closed for Car Free Weekends on Cliff Drive.  A virtual transformation of the park can be seen with people and families walking, running, cycling, rock climbing, disc golfing, nature watching, fishing in North Terrace Lake, skateboarding, etc.  When the trash, both literally and figuratively, can be kept out, Cliff Drive and Kessler Park becomes a regional destination for people to enjoy an active day in a safe park.  We want to promote this feeling all the time and permanently close the gates to motorized vehicular traffic, except for special events.

We ask this because as of today, 7/28/14, volunteers have worked 3489 hours during 2014 alone in order to make Cliff Drive and Kessler Park a cleaner and safer place for all people to enjoy.  Two weeks ago, we hosted 900 youth with the National Youth Conference for 4 days of clean up.  Their efforts yielded over 3000 bags of trash, over 2700 tires removed from the woods, approximately 1 acre of invasive honeysuckle eradicated, plus about 20 truckloads of other random junk like car bumpers, tv's, mattresses, wood flooring, stuffed animals, etc.  While these numbers are outstanding, we continue to battle week after week against the illegal dumping and unsafe activity happening along the drive.  Our dedicated volunteers come our weekend after weekend and clean up last week’s mess, plus get knee deep in the dumpsites to get our park cleaned up.

This is the system’s namesake park and crown jewel: George E. Kessler Park and Cliff Drive.  We cannot let it continue to be overrun by trash and illegal activity.  We must expand Car Free Weekends to Car Free Cliff Drive.  I welcome any questions and, if you would like, I will offer a guided tour of the negligence so that you can see for yourself why we need to close Cliff Drive to motorized transportation.

Thank you for your support.

The Board of the Cliff Drive Corridor Management Committee and Brett Shoffner - Executive Director



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