Recent Sheetz proposal out of line with citizens

Dear Editor ,

The City of Kent will soon break ground on a project combining a bridge over the Cuyahoga, a new major intersection and related improvements at Crain Street, North Mantua Street and Fairchild Avenue. It is intended to ease some of the worst traffic in Portage and Summit counties, route traffic away from neighborhoods, connect bike paths and parks and create an attractive portal to Kent.

Sheetz Corporation wants to build a gas station and convenience store at the same intersection. A lawyer for Sheetz stated that the proposed store, at 4,900 square feet, would be smaller and “more attractive” than a super-sized, garish Sheetz on East Main Street in Franklin Township near the university. But, pumps, parking, etc. included, Sheetz would occupy at least 45,329 square feet – over an acre – dominating both the bridge intersection and the sight lines of a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge. It would be two-and-a-half to three times as large as a recently remodeled gas station and convenience store one block up the street. If an adjacent vacant lot is involved, Sheetz would occupy about 57,593 square feet. A football field, including end zones, is 57,600 square feet.

Sheetz would replace three commercial buildings, parking, three houses and the 1906 Johnson building (apartments and three storefronts). Sheetz would have access to two alleys – one routing traffic into a neighborhood – and would occupy 25 percent of the block, including at least 60 percent of its North Mantua frontage

The proposed Sheetz would increase and complicate through traffic, increase neighborhood traffic and litter and noise, interrupt a residential and greenways corridor beginning at the Cuyahoga and extending towards Stow and make the intersection more dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians.

We don’t expect Sheetz of Altoona, Pa., to care about the quality of life in Kent. We do expect the city of Kent to try to protect the goals, projects and investments of its citizens. For the city to refuse to stand up for those goals, projects and investments is a slap in the face. We thought that the bridge was a way to a better city. Wouldn’t it be a shame if it turned out to be merely a way to a gas station and convenience store?

Jeff Farmer, Kent resident