Proposed transportation hub discussed

Tim Jacobs

A group of about 30 Kent residents, business owners, university officials and representatives of PARTA gathered at the City Council chambers last night to express their thoughts and concerns about the proposed Kent City Gateway.

Eugene Roberts, Kent city service director, said the project is “still in its infancy” but making progress.

“The purpose of today’s meeting was to get citizen input,” said Roberts. “It’s a lot easier and cheaper right now to say, ‘well, did you think about this?’ ‘No, we didn’t.”

The study, funded through the university by a $435,000 grant from the Federal Transportation Administration, was conducted by splitting up the area between campus and downtown into eight sections. Each matrix was evaluated for traffic patterns, property values and geographical issues in order to find pros and cons of building the Gateway in each particular area.

“We’re supposed to be focusing on looking at the possible conflicts of a multimodal transfer center that would have possibilities to (connect to) other community venues and help bridge the gap between downtown and campus.”

One major concern expressed at the meeting was that of eminent domain, or the ability of the state to buy property at face value from private landholders, whether they approve of it or not.

“We have not heard any talk of eminent domain,” said Susan Swartz, assistant vice president of TranSystems, a transportation consulting company based in Dublin that has been brought in to collaborate on a study and begin planning for the proposed multimodal facility.

She added that the grant would be revoked if eminent domain were enacted.

The plan is to narrow these eight matrices down to two or three choices before making a final selection and beginning the design phase.

“We’re going to have to prepare for the impact on the adjacent properties — impact such as noise, air quality and water pollution to really figure out if there’s any real difference between those blocks,” Swartz said.

Roberts cited pedestrian and residential safety concerns in off-campus neighborhoods and on Haymaker Parkway as part of the inspiration behind building the facility.

“Of course, we want to keep as much traffic out of the neighborhoods as possible and keep them on state routes because (they) are built to handle more traffic,” Roberts said. “The wider lanes on (state Routes 43 and 59) make it more comfortable to drive the speed limit.”

The facility will connect outside transportation routes with walking paths and bike trails, aimed at getting more students and residents downtown and help facilitate economic development.

“The heart of it is it connects transit users to other types of transportation,” Swartz said. “You can park and leave your car and bike or walk from that location to anywhere on campus or downtown. The idea is that it connects all of the different modes and hopefully gets people out of their cars.”

Any Kent residents, students or business owners who are interested in voicing their ideas or concerns about the Kent Central Gateway have until Nov. 26 to do so via e-mail at kentcentral

[email protected]

Contact public affairs reporter Tim Jacobs [email protected].