Rest in Peace Citizen Hauser by Susan Miller RealNEO 11/15/2008

Rest in Peace Citizen Hauser

Submitted by Susan Miller on Sat, 11/15/2008 – 16:36.

Ed Hauser died suddenly November 14, 2008. Northeast Ohio has lost its most ardent, studied and tenacious citizen activist. Information regarding funeral arrangements will be in the Plain Dealer tomorrow.

This is a photo of Ed gathering signatures for his campaign to secure Whiskey Island as public greenspace on our lakefront for all time.

What follows is a nomination written by Martha Eakin and me, edited by Ohio Environmental Council’s director, Keith Dimoff, for Cleveland’s Biodiversity Alliance awards in 2007.

Sustained not by deep pockets but by dogged determination, “Citizen” Ed Hauser has worked diligently toward his goal of seeing all of Whiskey Island made into a park. Since 1998, Ed has made saving Whiskey Island a fulltime job. And a fulltime job it has been because the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (CCCPA) has planned to move its operations to the land across the river for 9 years, determined to take a portion of Whiskey Island for gravel storage and docking facilities.

With the lakefront plan languishing on the drawing boards and public access to the lake limited, Ed remained steadfast in his effort to save Whiskey Island as a contiguous group of properties – the park, the marina and the Coastguard Station. The Coastguard Station has experienced significant deferred maintenance and could have been slated for demolition, but Ed continues to shine his light on the property, demanding that the buildings be restored and brought to public use by the City of Cleveland. He has invoked the National Historic Preservation Act to save the Huletts, the iron ore unloaders that tell the story of the rise of Cleveland’s industrial heritage. Ed intends that the Island be able to tell the story of Cleveland to us and to future generations.

Ed was not deterred by being told “Ed, it’s not going to happen, everybody is opposed to it. The issue is over with.” Ed’s extensive experience with the ways of government has taught him that he cannot rest until the land becomes part of the Cleveland Metroparks, ensuring that it will remain permanently protected public greenspace.

Ed has maintained a watchful presence over multiple layers of government with regular attendance at CCCPA, Cleveland Planning Commission, Cleveland City Council, and Cuyahoga County Commissioner’s meetings. He has interacted with Cleveland’s Law Department, Landmarks Commission, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Initiative, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who oversee the Ohio Coastal Management, and every elected official involved with these 20 acres of beautiful greenspace along the lakefront and riverfront. He joined with the League of Women Voters on their CCCPA Study bringing to the public a relevant report for anyone who wants to know more about the publicly funded body. When ODOT became involved in the City’s Lakefront plan, Ed monitored and raised awareness regarding the many possible environmental effects of the Innerbelt Project. He has engaged more than 2,100 people to sign postcards of support for the plan for Cleveland Metroparks to take over this historic property.

Ed’s efforts have saved Whiskey Island as public greenspace. The Island is the heart of the city, where the river meets the lake. It is tied to the creation of the Ohio and Erie Canal. It is a haven for birds and their watchers and for hikers. It allows for access to a natural beachfront from inner-city neighborhoods. For its history, its historic lifesaving station, for keeping its natural habitat, not dredging and bulkheading, it allows for a natural beach in the city which is important for recreation and is the only place to launch non-motorized watercraft. Whiskey Island is the beachhead for sustainability and its champion, Ed Hauser, is a powerhouse of citizen action in our region.

Ed’s activism was documented on film: Link to Blue Hole Film, Citizen Hauser.

He will be missed.

Cleveland Scene Article on Ed Hauser 12/10/2008

No Man Is An Island
But Whiskey Island Backers Will Never Forget Ed Hauser


Cleveland Scene Magazine December 10, 2008

Anyone who cares that the place where the Cuyahoga River pours out into Lake Erie remains undeveloped – one of the few areas where a person can walk along the shore and touch the water – owes a debt to the late Ed Hauser. There’s no telling how many people he introduced to that scrap of land known as Whiskey Island, either by taking them on tours or by calling attention to the place during the many years he dedicated to preserving it. While the city of Cleveland duked it out with the county over control of the property, Hauser’s was the loudest and most substantive voice arguing for its preservation as a park. With the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority coveting it for westward expansion, and the city fighting for control but making no promises about its future, Hauser fought against steep odds and eventually won. Whiskey Island, the peninsula bordered by the old river channel to the south, the Cuyahoga to the east and Lake Erie to the north, is now known as Wendy Park. Thanks to Hauser, it’s going to stay that way. That was one of several battles Hauser took up in his 10 years of activism following his layoff from an engineering job at LTV steel.

Ed Hauser, who fought to preserve Whiskey Island, is dead at 47 Plain Dealer 11/16/2008

Ed Hauser, who fought to preserve Whiskey Island, is dead at 47

April McClellan-Copeland, Plain Dealer Reporter
Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) – November 16, 2008
For the past 10 years, Ed Hauser threw his entire life into saving the green corner of Whiskey Island, a peninsula with grassy fields and meadows on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

As the head of Friends of Whiskey Island, Hauser collected signatures on petitions, attended too many public meetings to count and spent money from his retirement plan in a campaign to preserve the 20 acres as a park and block expansion plans by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

Hauser, 47, died Friday morning. The Cuyahoga County coroner’s office ruled he had a heart attack, spokesman Powell Caesar said.

Known as “Citizen Hauser” and the “Mayor of Whiskey Island,” Hauser enjoyed seeing people use what became the county-owned Wendy Park in 2005, which has a marina, beach restaurant and sand volleyball courts and became home to several festivals.

“I was astounded at how many people were enjoying it on Labor Day,” said his sister, Sylvia Hauser, 51, of Streetsboro. “If it hadn’t been for my little brother . . .”

Cathy Stahurski, Ed Hauser’s girlfriend of 11 years, said she was with him when he became ill at 4 a.m. Friday morning. She said his back was hurting and he was sweaty, but he did not want to see a doctor.

She finally persuaded him to go to the hospital with his sister, but he died in the car.

Stahurski said Hauser was an engineer who was laid off from LTV Steel Co. 10 years ago. After that, he threw himself full time into being an activist.

Besides Whiskey Island, he also served as a citizen watchdog on port authority activities, championed a steel museum in Steelyard Commons and was vocal about Cleveland’s lakefront plans.

It wasn’t unusual to see him at a public meeting about the proposed Medical Mart.

A 2006 documentary called “Citizen Hauser” chronicled his dogged activism.

“Ed Hauser made this world a better place, not always with his causes, but with his attitude towards people,” Stahurski said. “Even his enemies liked him.”

Elaine Marsh, co-founder of Friends of the Crooked River, said there will be activists who come after Hauser, but no one will be able to fill his shoes.

“I believe he was the quintessential environmental activist,” Marsh said. “He was persistent, he did unbelievable research and he used that research in very thoughtful ways.”

Hauser was the fourth of five children born to Walter and the late Theresia Hauser. He graduated from Maple Heights High School in 1979 and Cleveland State University in 1990.

He loved to kayak, and could often be found in Lake Erie off Whiskey Island. He moved from Cleveland’s West Side back into his childhood home in Maple Heights in May.

Michael D. Roberts, a free-lance writer in Orange, got to know Hauser last year as he worked on a story about the port authority. He called him “the most influential activist of the last decade in this town.”

Services for Hauser will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Vito-Nero Funeral Home, 6130 Turney Road, Garfield Heights.

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