Kent City Council will use grant to finance Esplanade extension

Rachel Jones

Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling said the Esplanade extension is probably the key piece to the downtown redevelopment project.

The extension will be dual sidewalks with 20 feet of open space in the middle, running from the northeast edge of campus to downtown Kent.

The Kent City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to use a $700,000 grant the Ohio Department of Transportation gave to the city in 2010 to finance the extension’s construction.

“The city would have access to the grant and would use our staff to manage the finance,” Bowling said. “The university would pay the city any construction costs that occurred beyond the grant.”

The construction budget is $3.82 million, and contrary to a previous article, Bowling said the city is not paying $140,000 of that budget.

Wednesday’s agreement will set the plans for the relationship of who’s going to build and maintain the extension, on whose property and how it will be maintained.

Previous discussions had the extension’s construction ending at state Route 59, which would not even reach downtown.

Bowling said he worked with the university architect department, and both parties agreed Kent State would invest in getting the esplanade extended. The city would invest in the other side of state Route 59.

“It’s a firm gateway for the university on a major traffic route,” Bowling said. “There is no gateway to Kent State right now. This sort of creates that front door.”

The agreement at Wednesday’s city council meeting “set the table for the city and university to work together on the extension.”

“We are building for the university what it wants,” Bowling said. “The only reason why we’re doing it is because we have $700,000 to do it.”

Before the agreement was voted on, Heidi Shaffer, the Ward 5 councilwoman, said she was glad the city is working with the university on the project.

“I’m really pleased that this has come together,” Shaffer said. “It looks like we’ll be moving forward in a very key part of the downtown development and the university and city partnership.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].