Citizens meditate on potential multi-modal facility

David Yochum

Last night wasn’t the first time Kent leaders and residents sat in City Hall for 10 minutes. But it might have been the first time they sat in dead silence with their eyes closed.

Invited by the Kent Citizens Advisory Committee, TranSystems transportation consulting company led a public forum last night to discuss building a multi-modal facility in downtown Kent.

Talking about the benefits and drawbacks of such a facility, TranSystems presented initial findings of its feasibility study, which showed a square area between East Main, South Water, East Summit and South Willow streets as a target location for a transportation center.

Beth Long, TranSystems’ project manager, said a transportation hub would bring people downtown, but but TranSystems architect Jeff Jarvis wanted to gauge citizen opinions through use of guided meditation.

Jarvis asked his audience to recall a memorable trip they took by car or bus. Sitting with eyes closed, the audience followed Jarvis as he led them deep into meditation.

“Take a deep breath and let it out,” he instructed. “Relax. What do you see? What do you smell?”

Citizens told Jarvis they smelled diesel fumes, grass and the ocean, and city councilman Ed Bargerstock said he saw graffiti and heard foul language on his trip.

Jarvis then related the citizens’ comments to TranSystems’ feasibility study.

“Going somewhere with a group of people can be a wonderful or awful experience,” Jarvis said. “We would want a multi-modal facility to be seen as a community asset.”

City manager Dave Ruller said The said he was excited about the multi-modal facility’s potential.

“This is one of those projects that can signal it’s a new day in Kent,” Ruller said. “In Alexandria, Va., (the city where Ruller previously worked) 80 percent of development was within metro stops. Hopefully this can become a catalyst for downtown rejuvenation.”

Contact public affairs reporter David Yochum at [email protected].