Shoreline Park once active port

Ron Davidson
Jun 17, 2013

One of the more popular parks in Sandusky is Shoreline Park, on Sandusky Bay at the foot of Warren and Franklin Streets. It is relatively new among Sandusky city parks, officially dedicated to the public in 1990. The land on which this park sits has a long and interesting history, however. You probably will notice that much of the land in this park juts into the bay in the shape of piers; that is because, for more than 100 years, this area of Sandusky was a major commercial shipping point, with piers, a grain elevator, and a railroad yard.

According to the Sandusky city website, the first pier at this site was created around 1846, when landfill was added to the waterfront. (See my article on Water Street for details on the modification of the shoreline.) Railroad lines soon connected to the pier, primarily from the south via Warren Street. The Baltimore and Ohio (B & O) Railroad took over operation of this line from the Sandusky, Mansfield, and Newark Railroad around 1869. For the next several decades, the piers and the surrounding area became a significant operations site for the B & O. In 1888, the book Sandusky of To-Day reported that the railroad shipped iron ore, grain, lumber, flour, and general merchandise through its docks, and employed about 200 workers. A grain elevator, capable of storing 165,000 bushels, dominated the east pier. The site also contained a round house and car shops, where cars and engines were repaired and maintained.

The peak of activity at the B & O docks arrived early in the 20th century, and decline quickly followed. By 1910, ore shipments stopped arriving at the pier, and the ore rigs were dismantled in 1915; in 1923, the B & O stopped shipping coal (the Pennsylvania coal docks having long dominated coal shipping in Sandusky). The grain elevator was removed in 1924, replaced in 1928 by a dock for loading quarried stone, which operated until the World War II era. The operations at the B & O docks certainly were not helped by the tornado of 1924; the facility was in the direct path of the storm and suffered severe damage. Although the repair shop continued for several more years, and a freight office operated at the site until around 1981, business at the docks at the time of its final shutdown in 1973 was just a small fraction of what it was during the busy times in the late nineteenth century.

And so, for several years, the old B & O piers were essentially abandoned, except as a fishing place by local residents. Fortunately, the people of Sandusky and their city government saw fit to make this abandoned land a public park, with improvements begun in the 1980s. The park was officially dedicated to the people in 1990, and has served as an attractive site for many activities, including picnicking, walking, relaxing, and, of course, fishing.

Comments

T. A. Schwanger

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Excellent article Ron.

At one point, our local City Fathers contemplated condos on the site of Shoreline Park. Fortunately more logical heads prevailed.

Nemesis

But this land was NOT, as you so often like to say, dedicated to public access since bygone times. It was owned by a private railroad, dedicated to useful commerce, and greedy public land grabbers took it off the tax roles so the geese have a place to poo.

Like I said before - you're all giddy about private to public transfers, but condemn out of hand any transfer in the other direction, which translates to advocating the abolition of private property by attrition.

T. A. Schwanger

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@ Nemesis

Here's a little tidbit of info for you.

There are 22 miles of Shoreline in Sandusky of which 90% is PRIVATELY held hence Save Our Shoreline Park's mission of protecting and enhancing public access to Sandusky's Waterfront.

A high ranking official within Ohio DNR once said to me "they aren't making anymore waterfront property". Does it really make any sense to have, lets say, a law office on the waterfront?

A must see link on the Banks in Cincinnati--

http://www.youtube.com/watch?fea...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?fea...

Pay close attention to the .20 mark, 1.08 mark and 1.47 mark of the first video ---this will make you want to move out of the 20th Century thinking. If you have trouble figuring out my point with this video, don't hesitate to ask.

Nemesis

@SCHWANGER: There are 22 miles of Shoreline in Sandusky of which 90% is PRIVATELY held

That's a pretty good mix. This country was founded on the idea of minimal resources in government hands. However, your dogma ultimately aims for 100% publicly held.

@SCHWANGER: A high ranking official within Ohio DNR once said to me "they aren't making anymore waterfront property".

So, is it your position that simply because supply and demand makes a commodity valuable, only the government may be allowed to own it?

Should we take your appeal to the statements of an official of an agency that recently got slapped down by the courts for an attempt to seize ALL waterfront property as endorsement of their now thwarted plans?

@SCHWANGER: Does it really make any sense to have, lets say, a law office on the waterfront?

To my reasoning, no. If it were my law firm, I'd rather my employees not have the distraction, but here's the catch - it's NOT my firm, because I didn't invest the time and money and take the risks to build it, so my opinion, on the question, like yours, is irrelevant.

Whatever motivation I might have to invest in building a business and creating jobs in the community would be severely reduced by the prospect of having to answer to activist busybodies regarding what I was allowed to buy with the money said business might earn and what I could do with whatever I bought.

Then again, if I was running a city, I wouldn't want my city hall on the waterfront either, for many of the same reasons. It's notable that the law firm to which you allude constitutes a better use than city hall, merely by having an order of magnitude more square feet of windows to take advantage of the view, and being a more attractive building (although city hall doesn't offer a very high bar to clear in that respect.)

Speaking of city hall and related land uses, I also wouldn't put tennis courts on the waterfront. Tennis players need their eye on the ball, not on passing sailboats, and waterfront winds aren't the most conducive conditions to games like tennis. So much for your implied proposition that government's judgement regarding waterfront land use is superior.

By the way, it's actually a marina with a law firm inside it, just as Battery Park is a marina with a restaurant inside it, and it makes PERFECT sense to have marinas on the waterfront.

@SCHWANGER: Pay close attention to the .20 mark, 1.08 mark and 1.47 mark of the first video

Let's make sure we're talking about the same things:
a):20 - narrator refers to prior condition of the land as a wasteland.
b)1:08 - key was public investment in two new stadiums.
c)1:47 - awards from activist organizations validate the wisdom of this plan.

a)If the land was, in fact, a wasteland (there's no evidence, such as "before" video, given) then fine. I'm all for converting wastelands into something useful, regardless of who, government or not, let them become derelict. Where we differ is your insistence that it must be done by government, and that it's OK, noble even, for government to sit on a wasteland of its own making to avoid giving private parties a chance to do something useful with it.

b)As for the public investment in the stadiums - wow, just wow. So, you're endorsing using taxes paid by ordinary working people to subsidize, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,facilities for an industry whose employees are all millionaires, whose primary contribution to society is to hold up spoiled, steroid pumping, emotionally adolescent, itinerant deadbeat dads* as role models to our youth, while providing the circuses part of the classic bread and circuses method of governing.

*Yes, I know that doesn't describe ALL major sports pros, but until they truly clean house, the industry makes role models of the bad apples along with the good.

c)You should be able to figure out the fallacy inherent in the third point.

@SCHWANGER: ---this will make you want to move out of the 20th Century thinking.

But, Tim, when will you move out of 12th century thinking? The idea that mere citizens, self made entrepeneurs, could privately own land was what ended feudalism. You essentially want to turn the entire waterfront into Sherwood Forest - the domain of the king.

Oh, and that Port Washington coal dock park? Your links are very short on actual information, but google and bing maps photos seem to indicate that all they've done is build a new breakwall to completely enclose waters formerly open to Lake Michigan, thus creating a giant stagnant algae incubator. Bully for that.

The article above this discussion thread is illustrative of the issue. Shoreline Park represents more land area and more linear feet of shoreline going from private to public than the Surf's Up facility would have taken from public to private, (without even beginning to consider the Metroparks land grab along the back bay) but you have fits over even an exchange that net favors your cause, because there's no give and take with you - it's all take. There's no moderation in your platform, only extreme dogma.

I advocate a balanced approach - shoreline ownership that can move in BOTH directions while maintaining a reasonable mix of ownership and uses, and parties on EITHER side who can't make effective use of property being able to transfer it to someone who can. I also don't see any point in adding more public access to stand atop sheet piling and concrete and look at the lake without being able to derive any further benefit - a webcam can give people that. Why don't you do some real good and work to get more public beach front? A a pathetic little beach at Lion's Park is the only public access for actual PHYSICAL CONTACT with the waters of the lake between the middle of Huron and East Harbor State Park THAT bothers me far more than any access issues downtown. Why don't you see what you can do about the railroad blocking the entire shoreline west of Toft's dairy?

If, when the wave pool first closed, the city had leased or sold it to a private party to run, with the stipulation that the fees remain the same, it would be thriving today, because a private entity would have been able to enforce rules of conduct that would have precluded the anti-social behavior that drove most patrons away. Sandusky would have a working wave action pool open to the public.

T. A. Schwanger

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Nemesis

Alas you missed my point on the Cinncy Banks Project. The highlight of the project---the public park system is several acres along the waterfront with a main transit thoroughfare between the parks system and private development--a successful arrangement.

A WEB CAM to view the Bay/Lake Are you kidding us?

Nemesis

That doesn't change the extreme nature of your dogma. I very carefully listened to the time points you indicated.

And you completely missed the point of my webcam remark, which was not an actual suggestion, but a metaphoric characterization of your "achievements." Try reading the contextual paragraph for that remark again and see if you can figure it out.

T. A. Schwanger

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Nemesis

Nope you failed the test.

Turn off your speakers and watch the video. What you will see is artist renditions of a development with the public parks and associated amenities in close proximity to the waterfront with a main thoroughfare between the park system and private development.

Let's use Water Street as a local example of The Banks in Cincinnati.
How about we relocate Mack Iron (now close the waterfront) and reuse that property for a hotel, convention center, condos or a combination "mixed use". The term here is "tiered development". Public or low impact development at the waterfront with higher impact development tiered higher further away from the waterfront.

Another must see on how some cities do development right to appease the local citizenry, tourists and business.

www.louisvillewaterfront.com

Nemesis

@Schwanger: Turn off your speakers and watch the video.

I'm not one of the MTV magpie generation that needs everything in pictures - I deal in words.

@Schwanger:What you will see is artist renditions of a development with the public parks and associated amenities in close proximity to the waterfront with a main thoroughfare between the park system and private development.

I have no objection to that project per se. I said as much, assuming the wasteland description is accurate and all participation and transactions were fully voluntary. Unfortunately, any tax dollars used were collected involuntarily. There are alternatives to that, you know. If so many people really wanted the project, it could have been crowdfunded, through something like Kickstarter.

@Schwanger:How about we relocate Mack Iron (now close the waterfront) and reuse that property for a hotel, convention center, condos or a combination "mixed use".

Mack Iron is a going business concern that provides jobs. If they want to relocate, that is THEIR decision. If a private developer, backed by VOLUNTARILY provided capital, wants to build a hotel, condos, or a mixed use development there, I say fantastic - let the developer sit down with Mack Iron's owners and FREELY NEGOTIATE the price that will motivate them to relocate. No subsidies, no forcibly confiscated tax money - a a non-coersive free market endeavor. That's pretty much what I would propose as an alternative to the Marina District project.

So, did you read the paragraph, get the context, and grasp what I was saying? If so, when are you going to work to get REAL access where people can actually get in the lake, rather than stand atop sheet piling and look at it like a modern day Tantalus?

T. A. Schwanger

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Nemesis

Actually we have been trying for two years to improve access to the BAY at Lion's Park but have not had success getting local government on board.

Two years ago, a group of volunteers removed concrete, blacktop and other undesirable debris from the Lion's Park shoreline. Unfortunately, a significant amount remains below the high water mark which requires a City initiated Corp of Engineers Permit---"not a priority" as one City Commissioner put it.

Nemesis

That's a worthy cause. What can one do to help?

gene44870

I can only hope that the city will keep this site the way it is and not allow anyone to build on this site , It was givin to the residents of the city of sandusky for all to enjoy as well as the lake front should be , No one person should be permitted to build along the lake and bay front and it should be respected as public property

Nemesis

Thank you comrade gene. So, if someone dreams of having a waterfront property, and is about to embark on years of sweat and risk to build a business, create jobs, and improve the local economy in order to earn the money to buy said property, he/she shouldn't bother, because mandarins like you have decreed that reward for one's efforts off limits.

AJ Oliver

Nemesis, don't you think it's a bit cowardly to beat up on people from behind your anonymous keyboard curtain? I sure do.
Man up and take responsibility for your trash talk !!

Nemesis

AJ, I think Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay represent good company in which to find oneself. I find far more merit in responding anonymously to the ideas expressed with on point analysis and rebuttal, than I do in your signed attacks on those expressing ideas and their very right to express them.

Why don't you try staying on topic and responding to what I say - then you won't need to resort to grasping for a way to attack who I am.

Who is "beating up" on people - the one who responds to their ideas with reasoned disagreement, or the one who tries to shout them down by questioning their right to speak without credentials?

By the way, I have no way of knowing if AJ Oliver is your actual name, or an online handle, nor do I have a clue who any A.J Oliver may be, and, more to the point, I DON'T CARE, because I intend to respond to WHAT you say, rather than WHO you are.

So, now that we've cleared that up, did you have anything relevant to say? Just so you're aware, I happen to agree that Shoreline Park is a very nice civic asset, and given that there was no coercive emminent domain involved, I'm fine with its acquisition by the city, because I am open minded enough to accept a bi-directional flow of desirable assets between private entities and government in mutually at-will transactions, unlike some Tim who dogmatically insists that it must be a one way street, or Gene, who blatantly wants to outlaw private ownership of desirable property.

The Bizness

I can see both sides of the argument for public access to water but what is stopping a combination of public and private? Walk to any board walk on the east coast and you have private business adjacent to a public boardwalk or beach.

T. A. Schwanger

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@ the Bizness:

Nothing wrong with combination of Private/public. Problem in Sandusky public gets 10%--private gets 90%.

See how Cincinnati is doing it. Acres of public access along the waterfront---street/highway---then private in that order.

A must see links on the Banks in Cincinnati--

http://www.youtube.com/watch?fea...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?fea...

Pay close attention to the .20 mark, 1.08 mark and 1.47 mark of the first video

The Bizness

I have been to Cincinnati many times and love the Banks. That was the point I am trying to make, and that is the way all shorelines should be for a city. Clevelands East bank of the Flats is the same way.

Nemesis

The east bank of the flats is just proof of the inevitable lifecycle of so-called entertainment districts and how they ultimately spiral downward into thug havens - it's happening in the warehouse district now.

Nemesis

"Nothing wrong with combination of Private/public."

That's highly disingenuous. Over the course of history, property changes hands. You've made it clear that such transactions are only acceptable to you when they flow in ONE direction - from private to public. That dogma's end game is the abolition of private property by slow attrition.

If you'd like to demonstrate that this isn't your effective position, you're welcome to cite an instance where you've stood up for a private property owner in defiance of greedy public land grabbers. I won't hold my breath.

AJ Oliver

Hey Nem - Americans love their many parks, as numerous studies show.
http://www.npca.org/news/media-c...
There are no public parks, or public anything, in the libertarian utopia of Somalia. You might like it better there.

Nemesis

Americans love a lot of things. That doesn't mean we abolish private property to give everyone what they love.

There's nothing libertarian about Somalia. If you had any grasp of the issues you're discussing, you'd realize that.

T. A. Schwanger

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Nemesis

You are doing yourself and others a disservice when you do not read other posts.

Never one have you heard me or my group complain about the PRIVATE Chesapeake Lofts Project, the gigantic First Street boat storage buildings Hoty Enterprises has built obscuring the view of Sandusky Bay or the APEX property remake.

Why? Because they are private property.

Speaking of the APEX property, how do you feel about your tax dollars going to demolition and clean up of the private APEX property owned by a viable enterprise?

Nemesis

@Schwanger: You are doing yourself and others a disservice when you do not read other posts.

I read all the other posts, and respond to all the points - I even inline quote them to make sure they're all covered - you are the one who is cherry picking. I've raised several points that you've ignored.

@Schwanger:Never one have you heard me or my group complain about the PRIVATE Chesapeake Lofts Project, the gigantic First Street boat storage buildings Hoty Enterprises has built obscuring the view of Sandusky Bay or the APEX property remake.

No, but you have put forth two tenets, the first one explicitly and the other implicitly through your silence:

1. No property, once public, may ever be allowed to fall into private hands EVER. To propose or offer a voluntary transaction to so transfer it is criminally wrong.

2. There's nothing wrong with private property being transferred to government, even when it's done by force.

Now, since economies ebb and flow, and properties change hands from time to time, and government's thirst for power and control is never sated, the net effect of a public policy based on these two tenets is a ratcheting effect, where transactions can only happen in one direction, and through eventual attrition, all property is in government hands.

Thus the only difference, when it comes to land policy, between you and a bolshevik or a maoist is you are far more patient. The end game is the same; you're just willing to wait longer for it to come to fruition.

My counterpoint to that consists of a first tenet resulting from combining and altering yours, followed by a second one of my own:

1. Land may be transferred in both directions, but only in free will uncoersed transactions

2. Elected officials must balance all concerns, including motivating the productive, not stifling economic development, and the civic value of appealing public spaces (i.e. public waterfront access) in evaluating all transactions to which government is a party.

@Schwanger: Speaking of the APEX property, how do you feel about your tax dollars going to demolition and clean up of the private APEX property owned by a viable enterprise?

How do you think I feel? I find it an outrage. What's your point?

T. A. Schwanger

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Nemesis

Now that's is scary. We agree on the APEX demolition by taxpayers. Hope for you becoming a Schwangerite?

From the sounds of it we agree on many points just in varying degree.

There are individuals defining public access as a 10' wide boardwalk along the shoreline as suffice. There are others, such as myself, and based on what other communities are doing, defining public access as being more than a 10' boardwalk. I've provided a number of instances---Cincinnati, Louisville, Windsor, Ontario and even Huron Ohio.

Nemesis

The difference is one of consistency. Your distaste for government transfers of wealth changes based on who's getting the handouts; mine doesn't.

Joining your organization? I'd never belong to any group that would have me as a member. But what the heck, here's your chance to pique my interest. Organization number one: Is there any circumstance where you'd support the sale of any amount of public lakefront property to a private party?