The Shaker Lakes are located along the Doan Brook, nestled between Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. The Lower and Upper Lakes are rare lakes made by Shakers and were gifted to the City of Cleveland in 1895 for the larger Doan Brook Parkland on the condition the lakes would be maintained and preserved in perpetuity for the public.
The Shaker Lakes are critical to Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights; they are part of who we are and a defining asset for our communities. Over a century of conservation efforts have taken place along the lakes, generations of students receive hands-on environmental education in our own backyard, and it is a key stopping point for migrating birds. The lakes were key to the survival of the pioneer settlement in the earliest years of Ohio’s history.
In the 1960s, Cuyahoga County engineers attempted to build a highway through the Shaker Lakes. Local groups, homeowners, and community members rallied together to help stop that project and protect the lakes. The fight to defend and preserve them helped define the Shaker and Cleveland Heights communities.
In 2022, the Sewer District unveiled a plan to remove the Horseshoe Lake Dam and spillway in the name of stormwater management. The current plan would permanently destroy Horseshoe Lake (which is listed on two National Registers of Historic Places), turning it into a floodplain, with no plans or budget for improvements, ultimately leaving the cities on the hook for those costly expenses.
We believe that managing stormwater should not come at the cost of irreparably harming our cities and a cherished asset. We cannot ignore our community’s history and goals when planning Horseshoe Lake’s future. Friends of Horseshoe Lake came together to continue the community’s legacy of protecting an historic natural and cultural resource, preserving the parkland, and ensuring local officials prioritize long-term results over short-term savings.
Friends of Horseshoe Lake worked with engineering firm TRC and their team of experts with decades of experience on dam and stormwater management projects to ensure our proposed solution would be financially viable, environmentally conscious, and safe for local residents, with lower future maintenance costs for Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. These experts have shown that it is possible to keep our Horseshoe Lake! The Sewer District could also develop its own plan for a new dam and restored lake if it doesn’t like the proposal FOHSL presented. The Sewer District is planning a new dam for nearby Lower Lake, and so it should not claim small dams are not feasible on Doan Brook. Horseshoe Lake is valuable in its own right and, as a protected park lake and bird sanctuary, should not have to meet “sewer criteria” to have the right to exist. Doan Brook is not a sewer, and the Sewer District is supposed to work with the communities they serve.
The Horseshoe Lake Restoration Plan is better for the community because it meets or exceeds the Sewer District’s requirements by providing a stormwater benefit to water quantity and flood control, protecting the environment, and preserving the historical aspects of Horseshoe Lake.
Friends of Horseshoe Lake continues to gather support to encourage government officials to consider the Horseshoe Lake Restoration Plan. Join us and Save Horseshoe Lake today!