KSU seeks to connect campus to downtown

Allison Smith

New acquisitions part of the “link district”

Akron University student Dillion Kosmach and senior fashion merchandising majors Brittany Deitrick and Ashley Kuenzig sit on the porch of 220 South Willow Street. Brittany Ankrom | Summer Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Ashley Kuenzig has been living at 220 S. Willow St. for three years. After the Board of Trustees resolved to purchase the house she lives in and the house next door, the senior fashion merchandising major has been given until June 29 to move out.

Tom Clapper, general manager for transportation services at Kent State, oversaw the purchase of 220 and 214 S. Willow St. from owner Joshua R. Greene. The university will use funds from the Kent State University Board of Trustees Real Estate Investment Fund. The purchase price for the properties is $267,000.

“I contacted Tom Clapper, who is in charge of all of the properties, and he wouldn’t talk to me about it until the deal was sealed,” Kuenzig said.

Kuenzig said when the deal went through, Clapper said he would be willing to let her stay another month until she graduated. However, her roommate, Brittany Deitrick, a senior fashion merchandising major as well, would have to move out. So she decided to move out with Deitrick.

“Thank God Tom Clapper is being so understanding about it because, you know, I’m trying to get out of here as quickly as possible,” Kuenzig said. “He was being very accommodating to me.”

Clapper said the land is part of what is often referred to as the link district.

“The fundamental reason why this is of interest to so many people is because of the separation of Haymaker Parkway,” Clapper said. “When that went in the ’70s, that created a physical and a psychological barrier between the university and its stately population of say 25,000 and the historic downtown Kent as a retail and entertainment district.”

Clapper said they are working with downtown Kent to extend the esplanade, the main walking path that goes by the Student Center, all the way to downtown.

“Downtown Kent, there’s a redevelopment effort going on,” Clapper said. “The city has accumulated quite a bit of real estate in here, the university owns some real estate in here and we’re just looking to put it together to create some new retail.”

Clapper used a map as a reference. He held up a pencil and gave an example of a student heading to the Student Center from Franklin Hall. When he laid the pencil down, the trip would take a little more than the length of the pencil. If the student decided to go downtown for lunch instead, the trip would take about half that length. Yet, the walk downtown takes much longer than the walk to the Student Center.

“We’re trying to get the pedestrian movement back and forth between the campus and downtown easier,” Clapper said.

Clapper said that the link between the campus and downtown is only a proposal and it’s not 100 percent sure what the university will do with the land.

Kuenzig said she and her roommate didn’t even know about the university purchasing the land until someone they knew told them about it.

“He told me that I would be able to live here until the end of the summer and then I found out that the deal was going through at the beginning of June,” Kuenzig said. “But I found another place to live.”

Even though Kuenzig will be graduating soon, she is sad she will not be able to show anyone in the future where she lived at Kent State.

“It’s so sad, my entire living here is being bulldozed down,” Kuenzig said. “My freshman year I lived in Stewart, they took that down. I lived here for three years, they’re taking this down. So I’m like ‘Hmm, when I come to Kent, what am I going to see?'”

Contact principal reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].