City tables Willow Street closure talks with university


Kent State University and Kent City Council plan to discuss the closing of South Willow Street from East Main Street to East College Avenue later this year. The university would like the section of South Willow Street closed to keep pedestrians on the Esplanade safe from oncoming traffic. 

Hilary Crisan

Discussions between Kent State University and the City of Kent to permanently shut down South Willow Street have been postponed to next September. 

The university’s desire to shut down a part of South Willow Street created a disagreement between City Council and the university at a Nov. 5 council meeting. The university has said it would like to shut down South Willow Street from East Main Street to East College Avenue in order to stop traffic from crossing the Esplanade expansion into downtown. 

Council decided at its Nov. 19 meeting to consider installing stop signs at the Esplanade and South Willow Street intersection. The city would like to keep South Willow Street open to traffic, said Ward 3 councilman Wayne Wilson.

The university declined to comment on the talks, but Wilson said the university wants to shut down the street from East Main Street to East College so students can feel safer crossing Willow Street to reach downtown.

“In my opinion, this is going to cause traffic nightmares elsewhere, like Lincoln Street, and it’s going to cause more traffic on Summit Street,” Wilson said. “They feel they have addressed some of the issues of how to correct those, but I don’t feel that they’re acceptable answers.”

City Council attempted to think of alternatives to shutting down the street while the issue was brought up.

“If (the University) feels it’s unsafe for people to be walking across Willow Street on the Esplanade, then it’s unsafe for people to be walking across Lincoln Street on the Esplanade,” Wilson said. “They could put traffic signals that are used for mid-block crossings and that way, the person coming down can push a button and after a certain amount of time, it would turn the traffic light red.”

City Council benched the issue during their meeting on Nov. 19. The decision will be made in September 2015 after formal talks with the university.

Contact Hilary Crisan at [email protected].