Kent’s City Engineer Jim Bowling has been meeting with the property owners and renters of the University Heights neighborhood to talk about possible ways to improve and preserve the quality of life enjoyed in that neighborhood.
That neighborhood sits at the terminus of Crain Avenue which had historically seen more than it’s fair share of cut-through traffic getting to and from Kent State University.
The relocation of the former Crain Avenue Bridge at the west end of Crain Avenue — now the new Fairchild Avenue Bridge — was intentionally shifted to the south, away from Crain, so that the off-set of the street combined with the new traffic signals could be timed in a way to push more cars to stay on the primary roads rather than using the local neighborhood roads to get to Kent State and points in between.
Jim reports that the relocation worked, reducing neighborhood cut-thru traffic by 55%. However, the recent prospect of the redevelopment of the 1005 E. Main Street property has raised neighborhood concerns for bringing new traffic into the area so Jim is busy working with the neighbors to see what could be done to mitigate that at the east end of Crain Avenue in similar fashion to what was done at the west end.
Sometimes timing is everything and with Kent State’s recent interest in redesigning the campus entrances along Main Street, this seemed like the perfect time to bring the neighbors, the City and Kent State together to talk shop.
Jim has been leading that effort to coordinate the neighbor discussions with Kent State and here’s his latest update:
I want to give everyone a brief update on what has occurred over the last couple of weeks.
First off, I want to thank all those that could make the meeting Monday night on Campus. Mary, Diane, Paula, Tracy and a gentleman I did not know, were able to spend an hour with the design teams competing for Business Administration Building. The design teams were on campus for the day meeting with several stakeholder groups as they prepare their proposals for Kent State. It was an intimate meeting with open dialogue. Our group was able to express our concerns and hopes for the neighborhood, Main Street and how the business building could impact them. We also got to see the latest version of the master plan in the area of the business building. The primary change was that the main entrance to campus is now shown at the existing entrance at Midway Drive and Terrace Drive no longer ties into Main Street. This is a significant traffic calming technique that should reduce university cut-through traffic onto Luther and Crain. In many ways, it is similar to what we did on the west end of Crain Avenue in 2012. That change reduced traffic volumes 55% on Crain Avenue. The business building and parking deck were located on either side of the enhanced entrance at Midway. Other notable changes, included showing the removal of the parking lots and extension of the campus green east to the location of the new entrance. This area included walkways and other park like features. We also encouraged the design teams to think beyond their site and show how synergies could be developed between their site and the neighborhood. Not that they would have to build any items, but that it should not be planned in isolation. Our group could then follow through with features on Main Street and in the neighborhood that compliment the business building site and the neighborhood. I’m sure everyone who showed up at the meeting can give you their thoughts on what was presented and how it went as well.
The business building design teams are scheduled to submit their proposals in April. Also, April 12th is tentatively set for the proposals to be presented to the public. When this was done for the Architecture Building the proposals were presented in Cartwright Hall in the evening. I will let you know when I get confirmation of the date, time and location.
Also, we have a proposed agreement between Kent State and the City to begin the planning process for the East Main Street area (as discussed at the meeting on December 10th). I’ve attached a copy of the agreement that we will be presenting to City Council for approval in March. The meeting is on March 7th at 7 pm in the basement of the fire station, if you would like to attend. I don’t foresee any concerns, but a show of support is always beneficial.
Well….that is it for now. If you have any questions, please call me and have a great weekend.