City council approved the establishment of a neighborhood liaison on a two-year trial basis at last night’s meeting. The position is aimed at increasing cooperation between the university and city.
Hired by the university, the liaison will be jointly funded at an estimated cost of $20,000 for each party.
“We view this as another incremental investment to build that collaborative relationship,” City Manager Dave Ruller said. “In this case, the university, city and the students, frankly, and the residents share desire for a quality lifestyle in the neighborhoods, and this person’s supposed to help make that happen.”
The position stems from the city’s Neighborhood Enrichment Program, intending to enhance the quality of life in Kent neighborhoods, according to Ruller’s blog at kent360.com.
Some council members, however, disagreed on the best method to enhance neighborhood cooperation. Ward 4 councilman John Kuhar said in the meeting that while it’s a nice idea to have someone watch over trouble areas near the university, it shouldn’t necessarily be a joint responsibility.
“When I look at the money going into this, I think of other little things that we’ve done on a trial basis … where we put tax payer money out there and it really wasn’t the answer to any of our problems,” Kuhar said.
Ward 6 councilwoman Tracy Wallach and professor in the department of mathematics and science at Kent State, said she thinks the liaison will be worth the cost and would save the city money through time, especially with party cleanup, which was needed after last year’s College Fest. The Daily Kent Stater last reported on May 8, 2009 that expenses for extra staffing in response to the College Fest riots exceeded $26,000.
“It’s also meant to ease tensions between residents and students, and it’s also meant to work with residents in other areas also,” Wallach said. “So, it’s not just specifically for students.”