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Recycling in Downtown Kent is Back...

Nice weather brought lots of people to downtown Kent last weekend and besides kicking-back in the new benches downtown visitors also got a chance to show off their “green” by using the new blue recycling containers that were set out just in time for Earth Day.

Kent is proud of it’s environmental legacy — being one of the first communities to recycle in the early 1970′s — so it’s no surprise to see recycling get “recycled” back on Main Street.Recycling01

With all the changes in downtown, the old wooden recycling containers were pulled and we’re just now installing the new versions.  The old wooden containers had a great nostalgic look but an ill advised cigarette butt tossed inside would put these out of service for months.

Kent residents on the City’s “Sustainability Commission” hand-picked the new blue containers because they proved successful in other downtowns where it can sometimes be a challenge to get recyclables in but keep garbage out.

The bright blue might not blend downtown but that’s the point — the Commission members were looking for something that stood out so people could find the recycling bins easily and not be confused over whether they were trash bins or recycling bins.  There’s no mistaking that bright blue bin.

New and Improved Downtown Kent Recycling Bin

New and Improved Downtown Kent Recycling Bin

Also, these containers have a small round opening to let bottles in but hopefully keep other trash out.  Recycling in downtowns is always plagued by trash contamination issues so anything we can do to limit the random pizza boxes from being shoved in the better.

These first recycling bins were purchased with the intent of giving them try to make sure they work as planned before investing lots of money to put bins all over only to watch them fail.

Hopefully these will bins will prove as popular as the other changes downtown and we’ll try to build on that success over time.




NOPEC Savings for Kent Residents...

Sometimes there’s power in numbers – like buying power — and that’s been the basis for the success of NOPEC  since it opened for business back in 2000.

Irrespective of political opinions on the de-regulation of the power and gas industries in the late 1990′s, one thing is undeniable, it created an opportunity for organizations like NOPEC to enter the market on behalf of their members to shop around and negotiate better prices over the long term for their customers.

For 13 years NOPEC has used bulk-buying techniques to reduce energy costs to their member communities (Kent included) and they report saving their customers more than $195 million by pursuing the best deals they can find for electric and natural gas rates.  That’s big money and it’s not surprising since NOPEC is the largest governmental aggregator in the nation with 174 member communities covering 10 counties in northeast Ohio.

There’s logic in the math — more customers buying together means better pricing – and the Kent City staff routinely track price trends with the open market and over time the savings for Kent residents has proven significant.

City of Kent Public Service Director honored by NOPEC for Energy Efficiency Upgrades.

City of Kent Public Service Director honored by NOPEC for Energy Efficiency Upgrades.

NOPEC also took the lead on promoting and incentivizing energy efficiency investments and the City of Kent jumped into energy efficiency with both feet, saving tens of thousands of dollars annually from the City utility budget.  In recognition of our work,

NOPEC awarded the City a check for $260,000 resulting from energy savings last year that we used to pay for the investments it took to upgrade our lighting, motors, etc., to achieve those savings.

NOPEC sent word around last week of another type of savings that comes from having a long term rate contract with the power providers.  It turns out that the polar vortex was costly on the grid and the power suppliers announced that they will soon be charging about 2 million of their customers in our region a one-time fee ranging be
City of Kent Public Service Director honored by NOPEC for Energy Efficiency Upgrades.

tween $5 – $15 to cover their extra power supply costs resulting from the nasty weather.

Kent residents will not have to pay that fee thanks to NOPEC’s deals with the power suppliers.

Maybe $5-$15 isn’t all that much in the context of a family budget but every dollar helps and it’s nice to know that NOPEC is out there working to save Kent residents as many dollars as possible.

Kent Mayor’s Volunteer Awards...

Mayor Fiala works tirelessly to make Kent a great hometown and he’s announced a new Volunteer Awards Program to celebrate all those selfless volunteers that work alongside with him.

Kent has a lot of new stuff going on but one thing that never changes are the people that are willing to roll up their sleeves, step up, and offer their time and talent to tackle whatever community need comes their way.

Volunteers are a special breed and Kent has a long and proud tradition of folks that come together and rally around their home town.  The Mayor says it’s time to recognize those people and give them a well deserved atta-boy and public pat-on-the-back.

For all those people, Mayor Fiala has announced his new Volunteer Recognition Awards that he’s timed to launch with National Volunteer Week, April 6-13th.

The Mayor has selected a team of judges, developed awards categories, and set the award criteria – but now he needs nominations.  That’s where you come in.

If you know someone who selflessly gives their time or talents to others or to their community, now is the time to nominate them by sending in their name.  There’s lots of different award categories and the Mayor is hoping there’s something for everyone — he just needs some names to consider.

Even if you can’t volunteer, here’s a great chance to do a civic duty and nominate someone whom you know has made a difference in this community.

Here’s the details that the Mayor is sending around:  Mayors Volunteer Awards 2014



Fairchild Bridge Award #2...

Last week ended on a high note when I received word that our Fairchild Avenue Bridge Project is receiving the local Section of the American Society of Highway Engineers “Outstanding Highway Project Award” for 2014. 

This is the second award recognition for the Fairchild Avenue Bridge project and although it may not be as glamorous as our downtown revitalization it is another great example of a project that has won the admiration of our peers and is recognized as being best in class. 

Every project we do has a team of staff busy behind the scenes that work their magic and turn lead into infrastructure gold and this award is a credit to the resourcefulness of the Kent team that worked alongside ODOT to somehow keep this enormously complicated and ambitious project on track and on budget — and transformed one of our busiest gateways into a safe and attractive front door to our downtown. 

For an engineering staff of our size it is remarkable how much work they have produced over the last 5 years — and as this news reminds us, they did their work really well. 

I had a comparatively small role in the Fairchild Avenue Bridge project but I have great pride in the end result, so I hope everyone – from the residents that served on the Study Committee, to City Council and all of the staff — shares in a piece of hometown pride from this award. 


Winter Safety Ops...

Unfortunately the weather is not being particularly cooperative and I know from experience that this kind of extended winter storm season and extreme cold temperatures can wear thin on resident’s nerves so I thought this was a good time to provide an update on where we’re at with our winter operations. 

Street Plowing — When it comes to street plowing City crews concentrate on high traffic and high risk locations (hills, bridges, schools) first.  The crews will stay on those high priority streets as long as the rate of snowfall requires.  Sometimes the crews may have to work the high priority streets all day.  When the supervisor thinks the high priority streets are reasonably safe, he will began to cycle the plow trucks to secondary collector streets.

Once those streets have some degree of safety, the supervisor can begin releasing the trucks into neighborhood streets.  Often the crews only have time to run a single pass at first in the neighborhoods before having to get back to the secondary and primary streets to re-clear them and start over again due to continued snowfall.

In a typical storm event this cycling back and forth goes on for 48 hours.  The goal is to get at least one pass down residential streets by the end of 48 hours but each storm is different and can affect those results.  The crews will also be diverted for accidents and other emergencies so although we have a plan for snow plowing, those plans can change depending upon the circumstances.

Once the snowfall recedes, the crews will circle back into the residential streets to go from a single travel lane to a plowed lane in both directions.  It’s at this stage that the City needs resident’s cooperation to not park their vehicles on the street so that we can safely maneuver the plows down the street in a timely manner.  As more travel lanes are opened up the trucks will then work at the intersections to push back the piles that have accumulated at the corners. 

During a storm event the crews work around the clock.  After the storm has stopped the supervisor may continue a night shift with various staffing levels depending upon the amount of work still needing to be done, personnel policy limitations (by law plow operators may not plow for more than 16-hours and they must have an 8-hour period of rest), equipment availability, overtime budget, weather forecast and worker safety.  Each of these factors influence the supervisor’s decision but rest assured the goal is to restore safe street conditions as quickly as possible citywide. 

Winter storm response is more than just plowing.  It includes decisions about rates of applying dry salt, pre-wetting salt, adding calcium chloride, or using a brine product to pre-treat the streets.  Each of these techniques have an ideal temperature and weather range when they are most effective so the supervisor does his best to study the weather forecast and match the tactic to the condition.  The use of these products has budgetary impacts so it is critical to be prudent in their use. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the City’s plow operators are also responsible for responding to other City maintenance issues, e.g., water line breaks, sanitary and storm sewer backups, traffic accidents, and municipal building problems, so when the deep freeze hits our crews are often spread in many directions.  When fully staffed our Central  Maintenance Division has nineteen employees that can plow.  During a major snow event such as this past weekend the City typically responds with 9 trucks but some employees were temporarily diverted during the storm to deal with 3 water main breaks. 

Salt supplies in our region have made the news because the salt suppliers have not been able to keep up with demand so even though we have a contract for salt delivery, everything is on back-order and the suppliers are rationing their deliveries while they try to ramp up salt production.  As a result, we’ve had to be ultra-conservative in our salt applications so as to not be left with any salt until the next delivery.  The good news is that the temperatures have been so cold that salt has less effectiveness so scaling back our salt applications really hasn’t had any appreciable impacts on street safety. 

However, the extreme cold and reduced salt has meant more driving on hard pack snow in neighborhoods rather than bare pavement which is actually a consequence of the circumstances rather than sub-par performance by the plow operators.  I realize that residents may not necessarily understand that subtlety, but in extreme cold, driving on hard pack snow can provide a more predictable and safer driving surface on low volume streets where black ice can be prone to develop — particularly as salt applications have been cut back. 

I know residents can get frustrated as they drive around our region during a storm and see different street conditions across city boundaries but I caution against investing too much in intra-city comparisons because rates of snow fall in lake effect storms can vary even from one side of Kent to the other depending on where the bands of snow pass thru town — but I know it’s only natural to compare and frustrating when they think we came up short. 

When we receive complaints, we share those with the supervisors that lead the operations so that they can double check to make sure something wasn’t missed during all the shift changes and so they can keep an eye on those areas when the next storm arrives.  I know that the crews worked around the clock and although we are having to be careful with our salt use due to shortfalls in Northeast Ohio, the crews followed their standard emergency snow operations procedures and I think did a great job keeping Kent streets safe under the circumstances. 

I checked with the Police Chief and I am grateful that she reports that from an accident perspective the streets in Kent were safe even if they were a bit snowy.

Our City Service Director reports that we currently have 835 tons of salt in the barn.  On 1/3/2014 we ordered 1,000 tons of which we have only received 462 tons or less than 50% of our order (first deliver on February 1, 2014; 28 days after ordering). On February 5, 2014 we ordered an additional 1,000 tons so when combined with the January order we have received less that 25% of our combined January and February orders.

Prior to salt rationing being implemented on 2/1/14 there were a total of 18 snow events this winter.  For the 18 events there was 3,600 tons of salt used or an average of 200 tons/event.  Post 2/1/14 there have been 4 events using 225 tons of salt or an average of 56 tons/event.

If salt were used at the normal rate (pre rationing) usage would would have approximated an additional 574 tons for the 4 events in Feb.  Using the current estimate of 835 tons in barn and subtracting the estimated quantity of salt not used in February the salt dome would only have 261 tons remaining — a perilously small amount. 

As you might imagine, salt delivery is a serious concern.  We are being told that those communities that are telling the salt suppliers that they are out of salt are being given a preference for delivery but some cities are reporting that they are out of salt and still haven’t received a salt delivery — we don’t want to find ourselves in that situation.  

The Service Director and I have discussed this and it comes down to our willingness to take the risk that if we use all of our salt now will we receive a shipment in a time for the next storm.  We’re currently taking the approach of better safe than sorry.

Rationing now makes sense because salt has minimal functional impact (due to the extreme temperatures) and we just don’t want to run the risk of depleting our stockpile only to have a possible ice storm head our way and be out of salt when it will be needed the most.  The alternative would be to roll the dice, use all of our salt and shut the City down if an ice storm were to occur and we had no salt to respond — never a good option. 

Sidewalk ShovelingAfter much discussion over the last couple of years the City kept the legislative framework for sidewalk shoveling largely unchanged.  Our Compliance Officer is tasked with doing his best to advise residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks for safety reasons in response to a compliant.  The Officer will make personal contact either in person or in a letter to encourage clearing the sidewalk but we stop short of citing for the clearing of natural snowfall. 

However, we will cite the owner when the owner or their contractors intentionally pushes snow from driveways or parking lots and blocks the sidewalk.   For the natural snowfall, we want to encourage compliance but given the cumbersome court process involved we decided against adding fines, penalties, etc. that are procedurally almost unenforceable.   

Generally speaking the Compliance Officer works on a compliant basis but we do take a more pro-active approach in the chronic areas such as Water Street and E. Main Street to try to stay out in front of the issue in those high pedestrian areas.  How effective that is remains a matter of debate.  At the moment walking along the sidewalks in front of the commercial strips is a bit treacherous. 

For the first time this season, the Public Service Director is arranging for a private contractor to get crews in to clear the pedestrian crossings in the downtown area and City crews will also begin hauling some of the piles of snow out of downtown. 

The best strategy to fight the winter storms is for spring to arrive — sun and warmer temperatures are our best ally.   It can come soon enough. 

Citizen Action Center...

80,000 views and counting.

That’s the current tally for residents that have visited the City’s online “Citizen Action Center” to ask a City service question, look up answers, or submit a service request. (

The digital age has made it possible for the City to be “open” 24-7, 365 days a year with a few clicks of a mouse, and it’s encouraging to see residents continue to take advantage of those opportunities.

Between our Tweets, Facebook, Blog, and mobile app we try to keep up with the emerging tech trends in resident communication.  It’s great to see the numbers climbing for residents using these tools – otherwise we’re just talking to ourselves.

Below is the 2013 summary report for the City’s Citizen Action Center usage.













Kent Life...

Main Street Kent was busy wrapping up 2013 compiling a great downtown Kent promotional spread that was featured in the Akron Life magazine.

Main Street Kent’s mission is bigger than downtown promotions but they did such a great job pulling this piece together that I thought it deserved whatever more press I could give it.

The Main Street piece was 20 pages long (lot’s to show off) so I picked a few of my favorite pages to give you a flavor of it and but you can view the piece in it’s entirety by clicking here:  Main Street Kent nov13

Enjoy Main Street Kent!






KSU Construction Activity Update...

I’m always happy to pass along the information that I receive from KSU regarding the status of their many construction projects on the Kent campus:

From the Office of the University Architect:

Here are the major facility and infrastructure improvements that are currently being administered by the Office of the University Architect:


Clark Hall HVAC and Student Room Improvements
In Clark Hall, the two-pipe heating-only system was replaced with a four-pipe system capable of providing heating and cooling to student rooms. The flooring was abated and the existing built-in closets removed. Corridor finishes and lighting improvements were also included in this project. Dynamix Engineering, Ltd. is the Criteria Architect/Engineer for this project. Turner Construction Company is serving as the

South Campus Center Drive Parking Lot
The South Campus Center Drive parking lot provides new parking at the south gateway to campus and a new bus stop along the campus bus route. The parking lot also connects via a pedestrian bridge to existing athletic facilities in the area. Cavanaugh Building Corporation completed the asphalt and concrete work and the pedestrian bridge was set into place on the new foundations, brick piers and brick paver work was completed in late November.

Taylor Hall Building Envelope Restoration
Braun & Steidl Architects, Inc. designed this building envelope repair project to replace Taylor Hall’s upper and lower roof systems; perform concrete repairs to the structural building frame; and replace windows. Work included installation of lighting protection and fall protection, and removal of old cooling towers no longer in service. Panzica Construction Company’s on-site work was completed this fall. New windows were installed; masonry and concrete restoration were completed in early September; the upper roof membrane and metal work were installed; the Plaza Level Green Roof was installed in mid-September.



Kent Campus Classroom, Laboratory, Auxiliary Buildings and Utility Assets Energy Conservation Project, Phase 1
In mid-November 2012, The Brewer-Garrett Company commenced activity on their Performance Contract services for energy conservation measures in Kent Campus classroom, laboratory and auxiliary buildings, Summit Street Power Plant and utilities infrastructure. This project impacts over 3.6 million square feet of buildings, plus parking lot, and roadway lighting and campus utilities (electricity, natural gas, chilled water, steam, domestic water and sewer). The potential fifty million dollar project has been limited to a twenty-five million dollar Phase 1 with a possible, but yet to-be-determined value, future Phase 2. External special bond funding was approved by the Kent State University Board of Trustees and the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority; funding all-in rate achieved 1.25% with a very positive effect on project cash flow. Expectation for Phase 1 of this project is that the majority of the House Bill 251 energy use reduction goal of 20% will be met. A substantial amount of noticeable Phase 1 work and select exterior improvements are underway for: Bowman Hall, DeWeese Health Center, MAC Center, Schwartz Center, Ice Arena, Dix Stadium, and the Library. The majority of the campus exterior pole lighting project retrofitting to LED is complete with full completion planned during the summer of 2014. The Power Plant’s gas and electric utility contract/operation re-negotiation is also included in Phase 1 (electric contracts 100% complete for all campuses). Select envelope deferred renewal projects include: window replacements for: Administrative Services Building (complete), Bowman Hall (complete), DeWeese Health Center (December 2013 – January 2014), Dix Stadium (complete), Library (May 2014 – August 2014), Rockwell Museum (complete), Nixson Hall skylights (complete); new roofs for: Bowman, Henderson, Moulton, and Nixson halls (all complete). General project scope items include select lighting retrofits to about seventy-seven buildings/structures (complete), replacements of air handlers (MAC Center Gym complete), chillers, boilers, pumps, heat exchangers and domestic water heating systems (Schwartz Center complete), installation of piping system insulation, building envelope repairs, and comprehensive utility metering (various buildings 96% complete). Six groups of contractor teams retrofitted interior lighting at many buildings (99% complete). A Web-based energy usage dashboard will be developed mid/late 2014. During the summer of 2014, specialty lighting retrofits will occur in many buildings, along with occupancy sensor and other lighting controls installation in about seventy-seven buildings/areas. Design options and costs are underway for the summer 2014 Library window replacement; a lasting, visual facelift is possible and minimum cost additions are the goal. The project is utilizing Ohio House Bill 7 Performance Contracting regulations for payback of the project costs with guaranteed energy savings and possibly operational and avoided capital costs over a maximum 15-year time period.

Kent Campus Residence Services Energy Conservation Project
This project encompasses approximately 1,800,000 SF of twenty-six residence hall buildings on the Kent Campus to address the House Bill 251 energy use reduction goals. The projected construction installation cost is twenty million dollars, resulting in $1,800,000 total annual guaranteed utility cost savings. The Brewer-Garrett Company commenced installation processes in June 2011 and on-going as work is being coordinated with other residence hall projects planned outside of this project’s scope. This project exceeds the 20% HB 251 energy reduction goals with 37% annual energy consumption savings and avoided greenhouse gas emissions. The project is utilizing provisions per Ohio Legislation HB 7 for payback of project cost with guaranteed energy savings over the allowed 15-year payback time period. In addition, substantial deferred renewal items are being addressed: replacement of single-pane, original windows at Prentice, Verder, Dunbar, Lake and Olson halls; installation of air handling equipment in Beall/McDowell Center, and caulking, tuckpointing, lintel repair and replacements on the building envelopes. A student room energy conservation control system is being implemented throughout; this strategy automatically reduces HVAC and electrical usage when rooms are unoccupied. Envelope repairs and windows replacements in Dunbar, Prentice, Verder, Lake and Olson halls and envelope repairs at Tri-Towers Rotunda and Engleman Hall have been completed. Temperature controls in student rooms are operating in Centennial Courts A-F, Stopher, Johnson, Lake, Olson, Korb, Engleman, Beall, Prentice, Verder, Dunbar, Allyn, Clark, and Wright halls. Room automation at Fletcher, Manchester, Koonce and Leebrick halls will be completed before the start of the Fall Semester 2014. The Tri-Towers Complex’s domestic hot water heaters were replaced and the system is currently being upgraded to replace storage tanks in the towers with master mixing valves. Retro-commissioning of the hall’s HVAC equipment is being performed to correct any deficiencies and ensure efficient operation. A total of 2,051 water conserving low-flow sink aerators and approximately 1,600 reduced flow showerheads were installed in all of the residence halls. To reduce electricity consumption, lighting retrofits were completed in Stopher and Johnson halls, Centennial Courts A-F, Verder, Prentice, Dunbar, Engleman, Lake, Olson, Beall, McDowell, Koonce, Leebrick and Wright halls. New motors with variable frequency drives were installed on the building heating systems in multiple resident halls. Kitchen hood controls were installed in Eastway Center and Tri-Towers Rotunda that will automatically reduce exhaust flows by up to 70% when not required to capture heat and/or fumes from cooking. Heat recovery systems are being used to extract additional heat from the condensate prior to returning it to the Power Plant at Lake and Olson halls, Centennial Courts A/B, C/D, and E/F. The condensate heat recovery systems will reduce the steam required by buildings and help to provide more opportunities for waste heat recovery at the Power Plant. Utility meters were installed in all of the residence halls and are reporting consumptions to the building automation system for billing. The Web-based energy dashboard should be ready for public access by early 2014. This dashboard is intended to help promote energy conservation and review utility consumptions. Utility meter readings for individual residence halls will be used during energy conservation competitions between similar halls. This project is around 93% complete and will be finalized by the fall of 2014 in conjunction with renovations in Fletcher, Manchester, Leebrick, and Koonce halls.



Baseball and Softball Training Facility
An approximately 10,000 SF indoor hitting and pitching practice facility is being built for the men’s baseball and the women’s softball teams. The building will consist of a pre-engineered steel structure with a partial masonry veneer. The interior will have a field-turf surface, basic high-bay lighting with overhead radiant heating and ventilation system. The practice facility will allow both men’s and women’s teams to practice indoors prior to and during their seasons which occur in early spring, enabling both men’s and women’s teams to also practice pitching from dirt mounds. The new facility will relieve some of the congestion at the Field House with other sports teams in training. Hammond Construction’s site work commenced in early November. Work on this project, designed by Perspectus Architecture, LLC, will continue through early June 2014.

Centennial Research Park Multi-Discipline Lab
Swing space will be needed during the science facilities renovations and research space will also be needed for new hires. Van Auken Akins Architects designed the renovations to Centennial Research Park’s former 4,000 SF wash bay area, which includes installation of lab casework, window openings, new restrooms, HVAC, fire protection, electrical distribution and lighting systems. Infinity Construction Company’s on-site construction is scheduled to be completed by December 23.

Field House Locker Room Expansion
The Field House is being expanded along the south side of the building to provide locker room facilities for Women’s Softball, Women’s Field Hockey, Women’s Soccer and both Men’s and Women’s Track teams. Braun & Steidl, Architects, Inc. is the Criteria Architect/Engineer for this project. Regency Construction Services, Inc. is serving as the Design-Build firm. Construction of the new addition is scheduled to be completed in January 2014.

Gym Annex Pool Adaptive Reuse Renovations
In the Gym Annex, the 10,000 SF former aquatics area, vacant for the past ten years, is being renovated to provide classrooms and laboratories for the School of Visual Communications and Design. The existing pool mechanical rooms and pool diving area are being converted to facility maintenance space and storage. Exterior masonry repairs and roof replacement is complete. Partition walls for the classroom spaces are complete and interior finish work is underway. Interior painting and installation of light fixtures on the second floor are 75% complete. The new air handler and chiller were delivered and are currently being installed. This project is critically needed to address temporary classroom space while major campus improvements are completed over the next four years. This project was designed by Braun & Steidl, Architects, Inc. Summit Construction Company’s on-site construction is scheduled to continue through the end of December.

Library Fifth Floor Renovation
The fifth floor of the Library is being renovated for Undergraduate Studies for temporary use as swing space while the Olson Center is under construction. Over the summer, journals and shelving were removed from fifth floor of the Library, providing a wide-open space. The abatement of asbestos floor tile is complete. Drywall partitions were built to create a large conference room and an office suite with two private offices. Rough mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work is complete; installation of teledata cabling is in progress. New carpet will be installed and walls painted. Stitle Construction Corporation’s on-site construction is scheduled to be completed by January 13, 2014.

Library Roof Replacement and Parapet Repairs
URS Corporation designed this project to replace the Library’s tower and main building roofing systems. Work involves installation of lighting protection and fall protection, and the removal of old chillers and cooling towers no longer in service. Terik Roofing’s construction continues, as weather permits; masonry restoration work is completed, roofing work and coping installations are nearing completion, and installation of the roof ladder is in progress.

McGilvrey Hall Building Envelope Restoration
Carl Walker, Inc. designed this project to replace McGilvrey Hall’s building roof systems and prepare for a major restoration of the building’s stone and brick facades. Work includes installation of lighting protection and fall protection, and removal of old mechanical equipment no longer in service. Hively Contracting Company’s on-site construction work continues, as weather permits. Masonry restoration is nearing completion; roofing work sequencing is 95% complete, while installations of the top layer roofing, metal flashing and copings are in progress.

Medium Voltage Loop 6B
This project completes the process of abandoning the old, unreliable 5kv electrical distribution system in favor of the new and more efficient higher voltage system. Work involves upgrading cabling and electrical equipment to enable the remaining buildings (Allerton Apartments, Child Development Center, DeWeese Health Center, Ice Arena, Harbourt, Heer, Stewart, and VanCampen halls, Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and WKSU Broadcast Center) to accept the 13.2kv distribution voltage. All pre-existing, remaining 5kv cabling and equipment are being removed and a new, 13.2kv capacitor bank will be installed. Lake Erie Electric, Inc. has completed most of the excavation work at DeWeese Health Center, WKSU and Campus Center Drive and the contractor has been coordinating the excavation across Rhodes Road with the City of Kent. One of many planned power outage was completed without incident, thus freeing up a 15kv-rated breaker to start the new 15kv cable feeder. There will be another planned power outage over the winter holiday break to enable removal of some redundant 5kv cabling to free-up another portion of the pathway for the new 15kv feeder. Additional planned outages will be scheduled to take place in 2014, during Spring Break and the summer. Some of the initial submittal packages have been presented to the university for review and approval. Work on this project will continue through September 2014.

New Building for the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology
In support of the recently redefined and renamed College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology, Kent State University is building a new facility reflecting the level of sophistication envisioned for the college. The new facility will house classrooms, labs and administrative and faculty offices. In addition, a portion of the building will be planned as shell space for future expansion as additional funding becomes available. The research activities of the college will be located in another building on campus. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. Bostwick Design Partnership is serving as the Architect of Record; Hammond Construction, Inc. is serving as Construction Manager at Risk. In addition, separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent. In early May, the utility bid package 1A was issued by the CMR; in August the site utilities, foundation and steel bid package 1B was issued. Currently, steel is being fabricated off-site and building foundation work is on-going. Bid package 2 was awarded in late summer. On November 19, bid package 3 results were submitted to the CMR and subcontractor selections are currently under review.

Poetry Park at the Esplanade
Poetry Park is being built for use by students and the public along the new Esplanade extension connection to downtown Kent. The park includes displayed poetry works by Wick Poetry Center projects and the Glyphix studio on campus, and installation of new walks and seating areas, and landscape improvements. This project was designed by The Collaborative, Inc. Hummel Construction Company’s on-site construction continues through May 2014.

Prentice House Relocation and Renovation
The May Prentice House, a residence of historical significance to Kent State University, was relocated due to the Esplanade extension project and for future use by the university. Interior and exterior renovations are being done to bring the building up to code for the university’s use. Rick Hawksley, Architect, dba Design with a Vision, assisted with planning and designing this two-phased project. Hummel Construction Company’s on-site work continues into next spring. A new foundation, basement and structural floor system were built, new electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems installed, accessibility upgrades are being made, and interior and exterior improvements will be completed. The house has been relocated and elevator shaft masonry installed in time for the delivery of the elevator equipment. Exterior work continues this fall with site work to follow in the spring, as weather permits.

Renovations and Additions for the School of Art
The School of Art currently occupies seven buildings on the Kent Campus: the Art Building, Art Annex, Van Deusen Hall, Schwartz Center, Ceramics Building, Olson and Terrace halls. The intent of this project is to consolidate the school into two buildings and provide renovated and new spaces for their programs. The Art Annex is the university’s former central heating plant in which a two-phase renovation was planned to house several art programs. Phase one was completed in 2007 and this project will complete the second phase of renovations to provide approximately 32,000 SF. Recommendations to renovate Van Deusen Hall in lieu of the Art Building were approved, enabling the buildings to be linked together by the addition, thus creating space for the entire School of Art to be housed under one roof. Van Deusen needs significant renovations to accommodate the program space; the old Heating Plant section of the Art Annex is being partially demolished and rebuilt. In general, the project provides new MEP infrastructure, interior finishes, and envelope repairs/replacement. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. Payto Architects, Inc., the Architect of Record, completed a study with several different renovation scenarios. Ozanne Construction Company is serving as Construction Management at Risk. The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent. The construction manager, during the preconstruction services phase of the project, assisted with evaluating and determining the final project scope based on estimates, schedules and constructability. Portions of the buildings are remaining occupied during the renovations. Two early construction packages were bid in March and April to relocate existing utilities and perform abatement and demolition in the Art Annex and former Heating Plant. Utility work commenced in May and was completed in August. Demolition and abatement work began in September and continued through November. In December, site and structural work for the addition in between the Art Annex and Van Deusen Hall are being bid by the CMR.

Stockdale Dispatch Renovations
Designed by Four Points Architectural Services, Stockdale’s dispatch center was relocated into a larger, more secured room. Renovations entailed complete demolition and reconstruction of the new center and installation of furniture systems for five dispatch workstations. This summer, The Cornice Co., Inc. has completed installation of the new dispatch center. HVAC improvements have been completed and window replacements are continuing.

Tri-Towers Residence Halls Rooms and HVAC Upgrades
Built in 1968, the Tri-Towers complex consists of two ten-story residence halls, one twelve-story residence hall and a central connecting building for dining and student activities. The complex houses approximately 1,400 students and has received two large-scale, but partial renovations within the last ten years. This project addresses deferred maintenance issues, including aging HVAC infrastructure, building envelope failures, interior room configurations and finishes that were not corrected as part of previous renovations and extending the life of the buildings for another thirty years. Domokur Architects is serving as the Architect of Record to assist with designing and providing project management for all phases of the project. The AOR contracted directly with Scheeser Buckley Mayfield for MEP engineering design. Four Seasons Environmental is under contract with the university to serve as the Commissioning Agent. Gilbane Building Company is serving as Construction Manager at Risk for this project. Construction is scheduled over a two-year time frame, with the majority of work completed while buildings are unoccupied during the summer breaks of 2013 through 2014. Work in Wright Hall was completed this summer in time for students moving into the hall. Work in Koonce and Leebrick halls will be completed during the summer of 2014. As weather permits, building envelope work continues for the duration of this project.


Beall, McDowell, Prentice, and Dunbar Halls HVAC Replacement and Student Room Improvements
The three buildings within the Twin Towers Complex, Beall and McDowell halls, and Twin Towers Center, were all constructed in 1966; both Prentice and Dunbar halls were built in 1959. The HVAC systems will be replaced and student rooms will be renovated in Beall, McDowell, Prentice, and Dunbar halls. The project will include the demolition of the existing two-pipe convection heating units and installation of new, four-pipe heating and air conditioning fan coil units along with the associated piping, power and temperature control infrastructure in Beall, McDowell, and Prentice halls; Dunbar Hall is planned to remain a two-pipe heating-only system. All heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will be designed to meet the university’s energy and sustainability goals. The existing asbestos-containing floor tile within the residence rooms and corridors will be replaced with carpet tile floor finishes. While Beall and McDowell halls’ existing student room built-in wardrobe units will be demolished, the contractor will be responsible for managing the temporary removal and storage of the remaining student room furniture in all four buildings. The contractor will return the furniture and coordinate with the university’s furniture vendor for installation of the new wardrobe units. This project will utilize the Design-Build project delivery method. Kent State recently selected Van Auken Akins Architects, LLC to serve as the Criteria Architect/Engineer for this project. The university is in process of reviewing qualifications of firms interested in providing Design-Build services for the project. Construction will be phased over a two-year period, starting with work in Prentice and Beall halls during the summer of 2014; work in Dunbar and McDowell halls will be completed during the summer of 2015.

Fletcher and Manchester Halls HVAC and Student Room Improvements
In Fletcher and Manchester halls, the two-pipe heating-only systems will be replaced with four-pipe systems capable of providing heating and cooling to student rooms. The flooring will be abated and the existing built-in closets removed. Corridor finishes and lighting improvements are also included in this project. Dynamix Engineering, Ltd. is the Criteria Architect/Engineer for this project. Turner Construction Company is serving as the Design-Build firm. During the summer of 2014, construction will commence in Fletcher and Manchester halls.

Library Fire Alarm Upgrade
The remaining portions of the Library fire alarm system that are still controlled from the old fire alarm control panel need to be upgraded. Currently under design by EPIC Design Group, field work has been conducted to determine how to meet current code requirements. Initial schematic design drawings were reviewed and EPIC will be providing final design drawings within the next two weeks. This project will be advertised for bidding by mid-December with work starting in the late spring/early summer of 2014. Work will be completed prior to Fall Semester 2014.

Multiple Science Buildings Renovations and Addition
An Integrated Sciences Building will be built to increase academic and research spaces. The 93,000 SF Cunningham Hall, built in 1968, which provides space for the Department of Biological Sciences, will be renovated. Cunningham Hall also includes an addition that was completed in 2001; work in this addition is anticipated to be modest and limited to systems that interface with the original building, such as building automation, security and fire alarms and re-commissioning of the HVAC system. Exterior envelope improvements will be made to Smith Hall (circa 1968) which provides space for the Department of Physics. Renovations of these buildings are being treated as a single project to provide a cohesive approach to science instruction and research space in these areas. This project addresses deferred maintenance needs, focusing on replacement of aging and failing infrastructure and systems and reorganization of the program spaces within the existing buildings’ general layouts, and at the same time, will establish state-of-the-art science facilities for teaching and research. All three buildings and programs will need to continue to operate portions of the buildings during construction. Sharing of temporary facilities in all three areas will be part of an overall sequencing plan for the construction period. Ayers/Saint/Gross, Incorporated, the Architect of Record, is designing and providing project management for all phases of the project. The Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing engineering firm, Prater Engineering, is under contract with the Architect of Record. Turner Construction Company is serving as Construction Manager at Risk. In addition, separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Karpinski Engineering, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent, and Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. The design team completed the Program of Requirements (POR) and is working on the Schematic Design phase, while the Construction Manager is completing the POR estimate.

New Facility for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design
The College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) is one of Kent State University’s signature programs. Presently, the program is fractionalized with classroom, studios and faculty offices scattered across the campus in three separate structures that do not reflect the caliber of the program. Taylor Hall, located in the heart of campus, is the base of operations and the location within the May Fourth Historic District makes it impossible to modify the existing building in a constructive way; therefore, the university has set the construction of a new building for the program as a facility improvement priority. The proposed building is programmed at approximately 120,000 SF and will include studios, classrooms, administrative offices and various shop and research spaces. The new building will be located on the Esplanade walkway extension, the path between South Lincoln Street and Haymaker Parkway to connect the Kent Campus with downtown Kent. The connection of the building to its surrounding site will be an important part of the design and the project will include all sidewalks, parking lots, landscaping and utility extensions to the site and building. The university has identified three primary drivers of project: the building must be architecturally significant and representative of the stature of the CAED program; the building must be a model of sustainable design and energy performance; and the building must be affordable while accommodating all of the programmatic needs of the college. Richard L. Bowen + Associates, Inc., in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi, is serving as the Architect of Record for this project. Gilbane Building Company is serving as the Construction Manager at Risk. In addition, separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification, but is being designed to a LEED Platinum target. Maximizing energy conservation is a critical component of the design goals to comply with House bill 251. Contract negotiations are underway with the A/E and CMR.

Olson Center Rehabilitation for Undergraduate Studies
Olson Center, located along the University Esplanade and adjacent to the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, was constructed in 1961 as a dining facility, but was converted to offices in the early 1980s. Building renovations will address the growing list of deferred maintenance issues, but more importantly, will enhance the building facade facing this highly-visited section of the campus. The Department of Undergraduate Studies is located in the Olson Center; the Undergraduate Studies Center for Excellence tutoring and other operations are located in the Schwartz Center and the Library. Undergraduate Studies is responsible for assisting undecided students with degree and career planning; assessing the basic skills of all entering freshman students; providing tutoring services that promote student learning; and providing support tools and resources for low-income, first generation and precollege students. At 28,000 SF, the former kitchen and dining hall areas that currently house Undergraduate Studies and two departments from the School of Art will be transformed into a modern, student-focused tutoring and exploratory advising center. With its prime location in the center of campus, students could easily access tools to help them achieve success at Kent State University, including group tutoring, walk-in tutoring, online tutoring and scheduled tutoring. The Art programs, currently located on the north side of the building, will be permanently relocated into the new Art Complex once it is completed. Domokur Architects is assisting with designing this project. Investigation of existing building conditions, programming, schematic design and design development are complete. Construction documents are in progress with bidding scheduled to take place in December. This project will be registered with the USGBC for minimum Silver LEED certification. Maximizing energy conservation is a critical component of the design goals to comply with House Bill 251. Separate consultants are under contract to assist Kent State on this project: The Ruhlin Company is serving as the Major Construction Program Manager, Doty & Miller Architects & Planners, Inc. is the LEED Process Consultant, and Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent.

For general reference, the attached construction detour map, as well as a complete listing and status of design and construction projects administered by the Office of the University Architect, can be accessed via the Internet at the URL: As project conditions change, updates will be provided to you.

Recycling One Day Late This Week...

The Portage County Solid Waste District announced that due to extreme weather conditions, recycling collections were cancelled for Tuesday, January 28th.   Tuesday collections will resume on Wednesday and recycling for the remainder of the week will be collected one day later than normal.

The Polar Vortex strikes again.

Traffic Flow on SR59...

The polar vortex is taking no prisoners and that includes our traffic signal fiber optic line that interconnects our traffic signals on SR 59.

The City’s Traffic Engineer reports that we have lost communication contact though our traffic signal fiber optic line serving SR59 and as a result we cannot use the central computer system to access and run the signal controllers between Haymaker/Erie and E. Main/Horning. 

No inter-connect access means that the City can’t use the computer system to optimize traffic flow, adjust cycle lengths, change coordination plans, or maintain internal clock times at these intersections which consequently kicks the affected controllers into their default mode — which is the old timing and offsets that were manually set prior to the signal upgrade project.

The Traffic Engineer brought in a telecommunications service repair team to see if they trace the approximate location of the problem. Their trace narrowed down the location of the problem within a 120′ stretch along Depeyster Street. 

Since the repair company was only able to narrow the problem area down to 120′, they felt that the fiber may actually still be intact but attenuated — which means any water that may be in the pipe has frozen and is pressuring the fiber which is affecting its ability to pass light.

Of course the other option could be that the frozen water has broken the fiber but I like the first prognosis much better.

At this point, we’ll have to wait for warmer weather to be able to get in and open the fiber optic pull boxes to see if we can find the exact cause. Any fiber work in this weather will only create more problems.

Until then, we’ll program the controllers the old fashion way, box by box, and try to keep traffic running as smooth as possible.

I haven’t seen a significant impact in driving through this corridor but at the busy times of the day it could be more noticeable. 

Please be careful driving through the SR59 corridor as we deal with the lingering effects of the infamous Polar Vortex (which is getting on my last nerve). 


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