At the Vermilion City Council Meeting on Monday, October 28, 2019, Mayor Forthofer reported that he is continuing efforts to convert a salvage yard on the east end of the city to a Vermilion Lakefront Park.

“The Salvage Yard at the entrance to Vermilion has been on my active list for 22 months now,” stated the mayor. “I have been in contact with the primary parties and recently had a meeting with County Commissioner Lundy and representatives of the Community Development Department of Lorain and the Executive Director of Lorain County Metroparks. Conversion of the salvage yard to a county park has been in the Lakefront Connectivity plan for years. It would have a very positive impact on our Rt 6 Corridor Clean Up campaign.”

The mayor stated more details are forthcoming.

The Lorain County Commissioners released a comprehensive Lakefront Connectivity Plan on May 2, 2018. Proposed development projects in several communities along Lorain County’s 23 miles of lakefront are detailed in the plan. Vermilion’s east entrance on Route 6 is the site of a proposed lakefront park, walking trail and train observation platform.

The development site put forth by the City of Vermilion sits along the eastern border with the City of Lorain. The 26-acre site is comprised of two individual parcels, with the eastern parcel in Lorain and the western in Vermilion.

Vermilion Lakefront development would include a Lakefront Park and Nature Center on the Vermilion side of the site. Connecting a bikeway to the nature park would open up the opportunity for the public to experience the beauty of Lake Erie as well as connect with nature. A woodland nature walk would meander through existing and newly planted forest and meadow, and a wetland pond. A 60-foot tall watchtower would invite birders to view migrating species, and visitors to take in the Lake Erie vista.

The current use of the site is as a salvage yard for automobiles. Prior to this the property was used as a holding area for vehicles produced at the former Ford plant to the south, which closed in 2005.

The property is bordered to the north by an active rail line and the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie. To the south is the Route 6 corridor and the aforementioned Ford plant, now occupied by Trademark Global, Inc., Heidelberg Distributing, and a majority of the property is owned by IRG Lorain LLC. An overpass used by Ford to move inventory from the plant to the holding lot forms the eastern gateway. Wooded vacant property occupies several acres to the west of the property before transitioning to low-density residential lots.

Returning this site back to a more natural state and creatively implementing bioretention elements, it may also serve an educational purpose to understand how nature can filter rain and stormwater runnoff.

The proposed Vermilion Park transforms the existing automobile salvage yard into a lush, green space for active recreation, peaceful observation, and immersion in natural surroundings. A shared use path, accented by a painted blue dotted line guide, would travel the inner perimeter of the park space between the railroad and U.S. Route 6. Parking for 70 vehicles serves visitors seeking use of the open-air pavilion, community rooms, Nature Center, and outdoor facilities. Paved space adjacent to the building would provide placemaking with a fire pit and seating, full size individual swings under pergola shade, and access to the pier over an approximate half acre lily pad pond.

Additional elements enhancing the park would include:

  • approximately one and a half acres of a newly created forest
  • two acres of wetlands traversed by a pedestrian bridge
  • small rain gardens
  • and over five acres of prairie grass meadows.

These elements serve as green stormwater infrastructure to collect, attenuate, and treat stormwater while also providing natural habitats for insects, birds, and other species.

A railroad inspired overlook is proposed along the northern edge of the park, providing ADA accessible space to take in views of not only passing trains and ships, but of the stunning vista of Lake Erie spanning the horizon.