The Erie Community Foundation

Foundation Unveils Bayfront Beautification Project

Jun 03, 2011 | Posted in Homepage, News, Press Releases

At yesterday's annual meeting, Attorney Bob Dwyer presented The Erie Community Foundation's 75th Anniversary Project, which is designed to beautify the bayfront.

Below is his presentation:

We know that you can’t tell anything about a book by its cover, but all of us quickly make impressions of a community by its appearance. How often have all of us driven through a community only to comment that we would never want to live there?

That’s not how we feel about Erie. We live in a lovely community filled with engaged and involved citizens. I suspect that very few of us question our decisions to make Erie our home. That needs to be the message that we give to others as we redouble our efforts to attract new businesses and promote our important hospitality industry. It’s the same message that we need to reinforce through the pride that we have in Erie.

As the Board approached our 75th anniversary, we wondered whether we could lead an initiative to permanently and tangibly acknowledge that pride, as well as our appreciation of the numerous organizations that play an important role in our lives... something that could be enjoyed by everyone, our citizens as well as our visitors, that would demonstrate our conviction that Erie is a wonderful place to live.

We quickly settled on our crown jewel, the Erie Bayfront. With significant effort over many years, a gorgeous landscape has emerged... our beautiful marinas, uniquely designed Convention Center and Hotel, Bayfront Tower, Flagship Niagara, Maritime Museum, Hirt Auditorium, Erie Library, Intermodal Center, and the attractive businesses located along the Bayfront Parkway. The development of the former GAF site will further improve the Bayfront, as well as the developments planned with the Scott property.

All of that is to the north of the Bayfront Parkway, but it is a different story when one looks to the south.
From Erie’s earliest times, the Bayfront Bluff was intended to be an area of beauty to be enjoyed by all, but time and the lack of funds have taken their toll and the Bayfront vista now leaves one with a rather confusing impression.

Nearly a decade ago, Erie Port Authority recognized that situation and led a broad effort to create a development plan for the Bayfront Bluff. The missing ingredient has been the emergence of an organization to act as a catalyst in creating the momentum and collaboration necessary to make this dream a reality.

That is our 75th anniversary gift to the community.

For the past six months, we have been working very quietly with many local organizations to form a collaboration of government, municipal authorities, qualified nonprofits, and leaders of our business community. Our vision is that the entire Bayfront Bluff, from Cascade Street on the west to Wallace Street on the east, will provide a scenic park-like vista with appropriate landscaping, shrubbery, flowers, and trees and containing sporadic walkways providing safe pedestrian access to the Bayfront.

The Erie Port Authority and the Erie Water Authority, both of whom reside on the Erie Bayfront, joined our team. We sought advice from the Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Sons of Lake Erie, and the Lake Erie Arboretum Foundation. We reached out to some of the important constituents of our business and nonprofit community with the intention of promoting their significance as key community constituents.

Others will be asked to join our team. We’ve passed the point of no return. Work will begin later this summer and will continue through the spring and early summer of next year. Our plans include arrangements to assure that this greenway will be maintained over the years.

Many things that we now take for granted weren’t always here . . . the Bayfront Highway, Jerry Uht Park, the Bayfront Library. There was a time when in my lifetime when our beautiful Presque Isle was an island with no roadway connection. Throughout our history, there are moments when civic leadership looks generations ahead to create enduring gifts for our community.

In recognition of our 75 years of supporting our region, it is my pleasure to invite you to buckle your seatbelts and take a ride on the Bayfront Parkway to enjoy the new Bayfront Park and Greenway. We thank Dahlkemper Landscaping for its valuable assistance in developing this visual and developmental plan.

Also, we ask that that you consider individual support of this undertaking. Many of you maintain donor advised funds at The Erie Community Foundation. Others utilize the Foundation for the purpose of making specific charitable gifts. In thinking about your charitable plans for 2011, we ask that you to consider including this project as a candidate.

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