Kent City Council discusses relocation of City Hall


City Hall

Staff Report

The Michael Schwartz Center at Kent State is among several locations being considered for temporary office space while Kent City Hall relocates.

At Kent’s City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 1, City Manager David Ruller presented the idea of Kent’s Health Department moving into the Schwartz Center. The department would get an entire floor in the building.

“They essentially have 3,000 square feet available for (Health Commissioner) Jeff Neistadt and the Health Department, and they’re currently only using about 1,800 square feet,” Ruller said.

It would cost about $15,000 a year for the department to be tenants in the Schwartz Center.

Ruller then explained how the remaining people working in City Hall would be dispersed among the other locations being considered.

“A couple of us could move across to the fire department,” Ruller said. “A couple other of us could move over to the police department, and it’ll work. Functionally, it’ll work.”

Kent plan spreads City Hall buildings aroung city from on Vimeo.

Eugene Roberts, director of the Public Service Department, said that they should have no problems with visitors or parking at the Schwartz Center.

“Kent State has provided free parking for anybody that goes for our Health Department in the Michael Schwartz building in the parking lot to the immediate east,” Roberts said. “So it’d be the one right across from the M.A.C. Center on the south side of Summit Street.”

The other possible relocation options, compiled by Ruller after the March 4 council meeting, include Family & Community Services, Inc., Franklin Elementary School, the former Kent Municipal Court and the Public Service Department Building.

After the approval of a $2.4 million sale of Kent City Hall to Cleveland real estate developer NewBrook Partners at the city council meeting on Feb. 18, members of the Finance Committee created a list of 60 different variables used to rate sites to find the best fit for a temporary two-year location of City Hall.

The list of variables included: cost, location, parking, timing, storage space and special considerations. Each location had a list of positive and negative attributes, but council members all expressed the need to act quickly.

“The clock is ticking,” Ruller said. “And we knew when we started this process that it was going to require some fast feet.”

The one variable that was a repeated concern was the level of accessibility for Kent residents, as they are the ones with main interaction with some of the different departments of the city.

Ruller said it’s likely council will take advantage of the school system’s offer to provide temporary storage for surplus items, which won’t be immediately needed in the building.

As for the location of council chambers and council meetings, Ruller named the basement of the Fire Department as a possible option.

“The challenge is the infrastructure,” Ruller said. “Maybe we don’t need these tables, but Linda (Jordan) needs the sound system. Moving from place to place isn’t as easy.”

Council-at-Large Roger Sidoti raised concerns about community members being able to find the council meetings.

“Not everyone gets the Record Courier, not everyone has online access. So I think it’s the notification piece,” Sidoti said. “Not that it’s impossible to do, but I would suggest that it would disenfranchise some of our community that may want to come to council meetings.”

Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer said that by having a temporary office for two years, it will be a good way to find out which departments and offices have the most interaction with the people of Kent and then determine a permanent location for specific offices and departments based on that.

City reporters Kelsey Leyva, Jason Meek and Julia Adkins contributed reporting for this story

Contact Kelsey at [email protected]. Contact Jason at [email protected]. Contact Julia at [email protected]