Standing Rock Cultural Arts still fighting to save green space

Leighann McGivern

Standing Rock Cultural Arts proposed an alternative site plan for the Kent Wells Sherman House at 202 N. Lincoln St. in an ongoing effort to save the green space adjacent to its building.

As it stands, supporters of moving the house to 247 N. Water St., better known as the “Standing Rock Garden,” do not plan to pursue the alternative location.

The Kent City Planning Commission voted in a Sept. 4 meeting to approve the site plan at 247 N. Water St. after rejecting a slightly different site plan in a July 17 meeting. The rejected plan placed the house 15 feet from the sidewalk, while the approved plan placed it 13.5 feet away.

The Kent Wells Sherman House, built in 1858 for a member of the Kent family, must be moved to a new location by Dec. 1, or it faces demolition to make way for the University Esplanade expansion. Kent State offered $40,000 to help move the house, which is temporarily sitting at the end of East College Avenue.

The site at 202 N. Lincoln St. is the former site of Hillel at Kent State and remains under university ownership.

“Kent State is giving the house to the city of Kent and not the Kent Wells Sherman House preservation group, and therefore, the university would only entertain the idea of using the 202 N. Lincoln St. property if approached by the city,” said Emily Vincent, director of university media relations. “Even then, the university would not donate the land, rather, it would have to be purchased or traded.”

Vincent said the university may not be interested in offering the property but would work with the city to find a solution if asked. Jeff Ingram, Standing Rock co-founder and executive director, proposed the Lincoln Street site at Wednesday’s City Council meeting but was told the matter fell out of the council’s jurisdiction.

“It would be cost effective because you wouldn’t have to level the land to put the house there,” Ingram said. “It has extra space for on-site parking, which would be good for the clients and closer to the municipal court house.” Ingram argued the issue did fall in the council’s jurisdiction because it involved public funding but said the council members “shrugged their shoulders.”

Roger Thurman, vice chairman of the board for the Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc., said Lincoln Street wasn’t an option for the house because it didn’t satisfy the business tenants moving into the second floor or the historic relevance of the North Water Street site, where a similar house sat 20 years ago.

“This is all speculative things that are being presented as though they’re real facts, and they’re not real at all,” Thurman said. “That’s the irresponsibility of doing something like that. It just creates false hopes … The reality is we’re going to North Water, and it’s a done deal. We’re going to do that.”

Thurman said he’s currently in the process of reviewing bids to move the house.

Ingram said he would continue to search for new locations for the house until construction begins. Ingram said more than 450 signatures have been collected both online and in print in support of saving the green space, which is currently used for a children’s theater group, organic garden and an outdoor arts display, among other uses.

“I’ll just keep pressuring the city until they put the bulldozers on the ground, and hopefully come away with a positive outcome for all parties — preservation of the house, preservation of the green space,” Ingram said.

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected] .