Huron building paths to progress

ConAgra property redevelopment continues with pathway along Huron River shoreline.
Andy Ouriel
Sep 24, 2013


For almost 75 years, an old industrial site and its iconic grain elevator were the only things keeping people from accessing Huron’s impressive riverfront.

But that’s the lakefront city of yesteryear.

These days, Huron planners are immersed in a complete overhaul of the riverfront, having demolished the ConAgra facility in January 2012 to make way for parks, paths and other possible developments.

Last month, construction crews began working on a 600-foot public path extending along the former ConAgra property, off Cleveland Road East, north of River Road.

Workers are using crushed stone from the demolished ConAgra facility as building material for the path. The crews also used large boulders as riprap along the embankment, to prevent erosion.

The entire project, including an asphalt-covered path, should be done sometime next month. Other enhancements planned for next year include park benches, trees and grass.

“This represents a major milestone in providing public access and dedicated recreational space for pedestrians and cyclists,” Huron city manager Andy White said.

The ConAgra property became available for purchase in 2006, when company executives decided to leave Huron. The plant opened around 1937.

City leaders wanted to purchase the prime waterfront site, but with an annual budget of about $4 million, they simply didn’t have the money.

They pitched their plans to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and whatever they said worked — within months, the state provided Huron with grants totaling $8.3 million.

The money included:

• $3.2 million to acquire the 20 acres.

• $3.1 million to construct a 10 acre boat launch, which occupies about half the space.

• $2 million to demolish ConAgra and clean the surrounding area. About $146,000 of this was used to build the pathway. The grant also paid for shoreline excavation and placement of stone, asphalt and landscaping along the corridor.

The former ConAgra site is a key focal point in Huron’s revitalization.

In July 2012, city officials unveiled an aggressive plan to reshape the city by 2020. The $9 million undertaking aims to lure businesses while also persuading people to move to the city.

The plan also calls for linking several city landmarks, parks and neighborhoods, with an emphasis on highlighting waterfront features.

Meanwhile, Huron officials are still contemplating how to market the former ConAgra site. Some ideas tossed around include morphing the space into a commercial district, a business park, residential properties or a hybrid of the three.

But no matter what goes in there, the pathway will remain a public space.

“We want to preserve waterfront access and work with whoever wants to come in and do some development so we can secure some financial or economic benefits,” Huron councilman Brad Hartung said.

At a glance
Huron officials have spent the past year improving pedestrian pathways, including:
• $240,000 to create the Lake Shore Electric Railway Trail, a 1.25-mile path running parallel to U.S. 6. It connects Huron High School to Woodlands Intermediate School. 
• $146,000 to build a 600-foot path along the Huron River at the former ConAgra site.
• $97,000 for various upgrades at the North Main Pier, including walkway improvements.


Red Baron

Something amazing like this could be done in Port Clinton at Waterworks Park.
Can I have a couple minutes of your time?
I would like to share my idea for what i believe is best for Waterworks Park area in Port Clinton. I am envisioning a “Lake Aquarium and Museum", where there would be taxidermy mounts and aquariums of all types of fish that are found in Lake Erie to educate people to what lives in Lake Erie. We could call it "Water Works Museum and Aquarium--Come and See How Lake Erie Water Works!."

This would tie beautifully with the Nature Preserve just down the way and Derby Pond. It could also be used to inform people about the hazards of what people are doing to the lake, encouraging people to be mindful of their actions. It could be like COSI for the family and be all about our lake with a Wylie Walleye and South Bay Bessie feature for kids. There could be a fun and entertaining South Bay Bessie (Lake Erie Monster) exhibit with a huge representation of the creature along with ...the history of sightings that would be a huge hit with children and sparking people's imaginations. There could also be a large map showcasing the sunken ships of Lake Erie.

A special Wylie Walleye exhibit would be a featured destination for kids, where there would be a Lake Erie themed play-center for little children to crawl all over, like those they have in malls. There is really nothing for families in this area. Could you imagine if there one complete center that a family could go to and enjoy themselves before/after they go to the islands? They may not even want to go to the islands after visiting this idea.

Imagine a special spot where fishing tournaments could set up and have a professional looking setting to have their awards ceremony for people to participate in and enjoy. We live right on the Lake but never take advantage of all the possibilities to showcase why we are so special because of this lake. Having this we could showcase events possibly by Bass Pro Shops, Ducks Unlimited, ESPN and other outdoor fishing resources.

An amphitheater would be included also for entertainment and performances. It would be great to include a roadside attraction, too. Not sure why this trend hasn't caught on in our down economy. It's popular in books and on TV. It would be a hit as a landmark in Port Clinton, an attention catcher.

I believe this is an area where a museum and aquarium would thrive all year long. This is what I believe would be the best for Port Clinton. Thank you for your time.

Something similar was purposed in 2007 and within those plans is information pertaining to obtaining grants and such that would cost the city basically nothing.

-Nathan Janes

More detailed write up on my idea.

Lake Museum & Aquarium

Promo: Come and See How Lake Erie Water Works!

Location, location, location---The Lake Museum and Aquarium has it! Nestled off the Portage River with a spectacular view of the Great Lake Erie, locals and visitors are treated to the best the city has to offer. The museum is designed around various educational themes, some of which are integrated with live exhibits. To enhance visual, audio, and tactile learners, a series of interactive activities are presented to encourage audience participation. Themes include: The effect of introduced species on Lake Erie fisheries and wildlife. The roles of bays, marshes, rivers, and streams in the life of the lake and its shores. Pollution control: successes and future goals.

The summer months in Vacationland bring tourists from all over the country and the world, increasing the town’s population and diversity. But once the warm season changes to cold, there are many activities for school children, scouting groups, church groups, and more! People from the tri-state area, Ohio/Indiana/Michigan can take a short day trip to attend programs conducted by staff educators and biologists. The exhibit spaces can double as classrooms, jamborees, reunions or conventions. The museum could also provide internships for biologists from the Ohio State University, whose primary location is Gibraltar Island for research, and the museum for teaching others about the lake and its inhabitants.

Once you visit—you’ll be hooked—and we hope to reel you in for more fun at the Lake Museum and Aquarium!

Possible Featured Attractions:

• Showcased at the entrance to the building is a large statue of the Chief (Pontiac) of the Ottawa tribe offering fish, welcoming settlers to the port.

• A historical presentation of Oliver Hazard Perry's War of 1812.

• Large naturalistic habitats that display impressive specimens of popular game fish.

• Smaller displays designed to showcase smaller fishes, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish, freshwater mussels, and insect larvae.

• A large interactive map showcasing the sunken ships of Lake Erie.

• "Hall of Fish" exhibit featuring mounted taxidermy of popular species of Lake Erie fish.

• Informational displays informing locals and visitors about the hazardous affects humans have on the lake and encouraging people to be mindful of their actions. Promoting Lake Conservation creates a well-informed public that tends to create a more beautiful and healthier aquatic experience for those that live in the lake and for those that play in the lake.

• Offers expanded education programs including outreach, sleep-overs, summer day camps, and other public activities.

• Hosts special indoor and outdoor events, such as art shows, sportsman tournaments, kite flying, boat shows and other public exhibitions.

• A nautical themed restaurant

• Gift Shop, with items made by local artists and crafters.

• A stage (alongside the building) for awards ceremonies, music, plays, and more.

• A convention center capable of catering weddings, meetings, charitable events, and more.

• There is a Roadside Attraction featuring a large walleye hooked with an Erie Dearie.

• Remote control boats located on the Derby Pond to rent or bring your own.

• South Bay Bessie (Lake Erie Monster) exhibit with a cartoon representation of the creature along with a history of sightings and there locations.

• A Wylie Walleye exhibit is a featured destination for little kids, where there is a Lake Erie themed soft sculpted foam play-center for children to crawl and play on.

• An indoor playground for the older kids, sits alongside the Wylie Walleye Exhibit.

• Exhibit emphasizing the protection of endangered species such as the Lake Sturgeon. Animal exhibits include:

1. Top predators: Walleye, Pike, and Bass.
2. Sturgeon, Gar, and other Large Lake Fishes (drum, carpsuckers, and buffalo).
3. Marsh Habitat (Shallow exhibit with above and below water viewing)
4. Perch and Sunfishes.
5. The invaders (introduced animals such as the round goby, lamprey, and zebra mussels that threaten native Lake Erie wildlife)
6. Stream Fishes (colorful dace and darters, with silvery minnows).
7. Local snakes and turtles.
8. Ohio's frogs and salamanders.
9. Aquatic invertebrates (Mussels, snails, crayfish, bugs, etc.)

The Bizness

Great idea!

Could also put some sort of aquarium at the Sandusky Bay Pavilion here in Sandusky, where the Sandusky Cabinet building is, where the Keller Building is, or somewhere on First St.

If I had the capital I would love to add to the tourists destinations of the area. Hell I would even look into putting a racino around here.


Great idea Biz. Problem is leadership at the top in Sandusky government is minus zero right now.


If the comments are regarding Port Clinton and Sandusky as tourist attractions, who is going to come to Huron?


Tourists don't come to Huron, they pass through on their way to somewhere else.


That is simply not true. Many of the houses in Old Homestead and Chaska Beach are summer rentals for people wanting a vacation by the lake, not to mention all the cottages by Nickel Plate.


Do you mean to say that all this progress is being done for people who only come here in the summer? Do they return home to their cities that have old historical buildings or a large hole in the ground?


No, this is hopefully being done for everyone, Huron resident as well as visitor.

Stop It

What does Huron have to stop for? It's nice if you want to have peace and quiet. That's what small towns are for. Well, excepting the constant school issues you've had for the past generation. Those are pretty loud and demanding attention.


Perhaps these efforts are for Huron, not make it a nicer place to live, attract others to live there and attract businesses to move there.


What about all the dilapidated houses around Huron Lime?


From one side of the Historical plaque at the Boat Basin;

Continued from the other side

After the passage of the Federal Housing Act of 1949, a concerted, nationwide effort toward modernizing aging urban areas began. As a part of this trend, The City of Huron began demolition of 38 buildings along Main Street in 1969. Completed in 1975, the federally subsidized Huron urban-renewal project reshaped much of the community's downtown, adding the modern-day boat basin. Structures removed included the Harbor Inn, the Huron Dairy and the Vermilion Rubber Company, along with many residential buildings. Throughout the course of the undertaking, many citizens opposed the alteration of Main Street. The project was carried through, however, and the boat basin is the centerpiece of downtown Huron today.

If you're ever asked what Huron has to offer, perhaps your answer should be, a boat basin, a boat-launch ramp and parking lots galore!


I've been told Mr. Wight suffers from little big man syndrome.

However, logical people will agree he has it right so far when it comes to development and recreation---from the looks of things, the ConAg site will be mixed use with plenty of public space close to the water and private development away from the water.

Are you listening and watching Sandusky???