Within 15 minutes of setting down his tackle box at the northern edge of Euclid's new $1.4 million fishing pier at Sims Park, Rico Duncan spots a foot-long beige flash just below Lake Erie's choppy surface. The 250-foot concrete pier ends with a 44-foot-wide platform, but also features a 28-foot-wide central area with a shaded pavilion. Duncan is the only fisherman here on a chilly and blustery April Saturday afternoon. He fishes two to three times a week, often at Wildwood Shelter or East 55th Street Marina, where he has had great success. His line chases the squirrely unidentified fish to no avail.
"I come out wanting to catch a fish, but at the same time, it's nice to just sit and relax," says Duncan.
The pier is phase one of a $25 million to $30 million waterfront improvement plan, which stretches from Sims Park three-quarters of a mile east to East 248th Street, where a 200-slip marina with personal watercraft and boat rentals and lakefront restaurants will be.
"I spend way less money fishing than any other thing I do," Duncan says with a chuckle as he casts his line. This is his first time at the pier, which also attracts several curious shoppers from the flea market at the historic Henn Mansion a few hundred yards away.
Part of the $1.7 million for the Sims Park pier project was put into updating the ramps and pathways around the park and leading to the pier, which is handicap accessible.
The city has plans to lure people down to the new attraction all summer. From the city's third annual Euclid Wind Festival to live music and hot air balloon rides, Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik just wants people to visit, even if it's not to fish.
The most ambitious and expensive part is building the marina and breakwater to keep Erie's surf at bay after years of erosion. "Realistically, I believe in three to five years, it will be under construction," says Cervenik, who expects the makeover to be infectious. "Underutilized properties could be town houses and cluster homes."
Cervenik believes the pier is more than just a place to fish. "It's the rebirth of Euclid," he says.