By Jess LevensonJuly 10, 2018
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, Cleveland Port Authority, and several Cleveland preservation groups signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) June 1, 2018, resolving 20 years of debate over dredging the Cleveland Bulk Terminal and its impact on the Cleveland Huletts.
Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders ("Huletts") were enormous ore unloading machines, two of which stand where the Cuyahoga River flows into Lake Erie on the Pennsylvania Railway Ore Dock located on Whiskey Island. These Huletts operated continuously from 1912 to 1992, and were designated a Cleveland Historic Landmark in 1993, a National Register of Historic Places in 1997, and a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1998.
"The MOA states we have three years to work together as a working group and reach an agreement on what to do with the two Huletts," said Mark Scalabrino, Buffalo District Chief of the Ohio Application Evaluation Section. "If no agreement is reached, the Port Authority will have the right to move the Huletts."
"We reached a viable solution by considering the wants and needs of each party," Scalabrino continued. "Everyone did an excellent job improving relationships with the consulting parties, applicant and agencies."
Reaching a solution took nearly two decades.
In 1999, the Port Authority's dredging needs brought the Huletts and numerous organizations into convoluted legal engagements and mitigation decisions.
"Nobody agreed on how or where to display the Huletts," said Scalabrino. "They simply continued to rust and deteriorate, which, I believe, gave people a sense of urgency to find a solution."
"These enormous machines were very influential to the Great Lakes shipping industry," Scalabrino explained. "Before, people had to offload cargo over several days using wheelbarrows and shovels. Huletts sped up the process to a few hours."
The MOA requires a written report combining previously published scholarly work relevant to the Pennsylvania Railway Ore Dock and Huletts' history into a single resource. The report will then be filed with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office and the State Library of Ohio.
"The MOA is a win-win-win scenario," said Scalabrino. "Local historic organizations will be able to negotiate a solution for the Huletts, the Port Authority will be able to restore the Cleveland Bulk Terminal to suitable navigational depths, and the Army Corps of Engineers will fulfill its responsibility to make a permit decision."