Project aims to create transit center

Kira Meixner

The public can help decide what block in the city of Kent could be transformed into a new transportation hub by attending a series of meetings tomorrow afternoon.

Community members can learn about the Kent Central Gateway proposal, a project aimed to create a transit center in downtown Kent.

Kent State, Kent and the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) will hold one open house and one public meeting on campus at the City Council chambers between noon and 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Kent, Kent State and PARTA, also known as the steering team, have called on TransSystems, a transportation consulting company, to conduct a feasibility study for this project.

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said the team is still trying to answer the “what” questions, and have not yet reached the “how” questions.

“We’re still just beginning to address some of the details in a very broad sense, like coming up with locations that might be the best fit.” Ruller said in an e-mail. “To do that, we need the public input which is exactly what the consultants are doing.”

The team is studying eight possible sites for the Kent Central Gateway within the boundaries of Main, Water, Summit and Lincoln streets.

Tom Euclide, chairperson of the steering team and director of the University Architect’s office at Kent State, said the consultants are evaluating sites and the potential cost for the building. After doing so, they will solicit additional grants to build the facility. Input and suggestions from the community will be taken at tomorrow’s public meeting, and the consultants will start to narrow down the sites and design the facility.

“It’s still too early to say if it will be built or not,” Euclide said. “It is intended to be a transit center that pairs different modes of transportation together.”

If the Kent Central Gateway were built, it would be a multi-modal transportation center, Euclide said. Preliminary plans include an area for buses to pick up and drop off passengers, an area for parking and a bike storage area. Other elements include a ticket-sales stand, amenities and a visitor station offering maps and travel information. The Kent Central Gateway would also be connected to Kent State and downtown by paths and sidewalks, he said, providing accessibility to students and community members if they choose to walk. The team is also considering incorporating a rail system in the future if the cost of fuel continues to rise.

If the plan materializes, Euclide said the Kent Central Gateway would be beneficial to Kent’s development and its connection to the university.

“It will be a piece of the puzzle to help economic development,” he said. “With a link like this, businesses will see the advantages of coming to Kent.”

The open houses, held tomorrow from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Student Center and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Kent City Council chambers, will provide information to the public about the potential locations under consideration. Issues like accessibility, bike and pedestrian connections, local planning, economic growth, environmental and property impacts as well as traffic will be addressed with respect to each possible location.

Schedule of Events:

Open House: 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Kent State University

Student Center – 2nd Floor Lobby

Open House: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kent Council Chambers

325 South Depeyster Street

Formal Presentation: 6 p.m.

Kent Council Chambers

325 South Depeyster Street

A formal presentation will take place in the city council chambers tomorrow at 6 p.m. to summarize the planning process and discuss the site comparisons.

Verbal opinions can be voiced after the formal presentation and written comments can be e-mailed, faxed, or mailed to the consultation team or submitted at tomorrow’s meeting. Consultants will consider the input and suggestions from the public when narrowing down the possible sites to study more closely, according to a press release from the Kent Central Gateway study team.

The public is encouraged to submit comments by Nov. 26.

Contact public affairs reporter

Kira Meixner at [email protected]