Land Conservancy and City of Vermilion seek donations for final phase of Main Street Beach project

What is it: The City of Vermilion has worked with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy on the Main Street Beach project for years. Now, the committee tasked with making the project a reality is reaching out to citizens of the community and its visitors to donate to complete it.

“When the Inland Seas Museum decided it was going to move to Toledo and build a bigger facility, the City of Vermilion organized a committee to purchase the property for the community of Vermilion,” says Beth Eberhard, who co-chairs the committee responsible for the fund-raising effort with Eileen Bulan. “We knew lakefront property was very, very expensive and we did not want it to go to a developer. We wanted it to be there for all of the people who live in Vermilion, their families and every visitor who come to our town from all over and turn it into a fabulous area.”

That area has already seen the construction of restrooms, known as the comfort station, along with a loop trail and scenic overlook to go along with a grassy area overlooking the upgraded beach area.

“This is for everyone,” Eberhard says. “It is a valuable asset to Vermilion. People love to walk around, use the Adirondack chairs and just see the lake, walk around downtown and shop and eat. It’s just a wonderful opportunity for our community to showcase our city.”

What is being done: The committee is working to raise the final $150,000 to complete the project. The money raised will help complete the project, including constructing a drop-off plaza, featuring permeable pavers for stormwater management, and installing the east observation and seating area.

The final piece to the puzzle will connect all the park assets from the Wakefield Metro Park to the new comfort station, Main Street Beach and downtown Vermilion. The work will also install ADA-compliant sidewalks, ramps and grading.

“We have really nice restrooms and we’re developing the hillside where we’ve already had concerts and community events,” Eberhard says. “I walk down there a lot and it’s being used so much. It’s exactly what we had a vision for. It’s always nice when your vision comes true.”

What's next: The Main Street Beach project has been put on hold while work on the pier on the west side of the Vermilion River is completed. The committee is hoping construction for the final phase will begin as soon as the other work is finished.

“Vermilion received, courtesy of (U.S. representative) Marcy Kaptur, a federal grant to redo the west pier, and we had redone the east pier through a grant a few years ago,” Eberhard explains. “As soon as that project is completed, then these final items will begin as soon as we can and as soon as we have the money.”

That’s where the fund-raising committee comes in. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy has exhausted its resources of grants and donations that has paid for the purchase of the property and the upgrades already completed.

“We’ve already worked with a lot of big donors in Vermilion when we organized this committee to purchase the property,” Eberhard says. “We had an $800,000 Clean Ohio grant and some substantial big-time donors. We’ve also had other community groups, like the Erie County Foundation, that has given us money through grants, but now we need money for the end.”

While Eberhard would love to have more big donors, she is hoping the final push also has more grass-roots support.

”I’m a big person on getting local people involved,” she says. “Some people can donate $100,000, some can donate $100, and some can donate $25. I like it all because it gives everyone a vested interest in the community.”

How to get involved: There are plenty of ways to help the cause, starting with a visit to the website Donations to that website should be designated “Vermilion Main Street Beach” in the drop-down menu.

Donations can also be made by check payable to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and mailed to the organization at 3850 Chagrin River Road, Moreland Hills, OH 44022, with “Vermilion Main Street Beach” on the check’s memo line.

“Just like when we acquired the property, we’re going to the citizens of Vermilion and its friend, whoever we can find, to say now it’s time for us to step up,” Eberhard says.