Campus Link won’t happen? Maybe it’s waiting in Colorado.

David Yochum

While Kent city leaders explore downtown revitalization options, Tom Clapper, Kent State transportation manager, continues to pursue the Campus Link concept with outside inspiration.

Returning from a recent conference in Boulder, Colo., Clapper said he was “floored” at how the University of Colorado linked students and campus life with a historic downtown — even though it took them 18 years.

“On a Sunday night, I walked out of my hotel and there must have been 50 restaurants within a four-or five-block area,” Clapper said. “Boulder had every kind of retail business you could imagine — a real good mix of national chains and ‘mom and pop’ stores.”

Clapper recognized the University of Colorado integrated with downtown Boulder despite a few obstacles, such as a heavy traffic and a five-lane highway similar to Haymaker Parkway in Kent.

“It’s always been identified that Haymaker represents a physical and psychological barrier (between the city and university), and one of the purposes of Campus Link is to cross that,” Clapper said. “Boulder put a huge emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle connections between campus and downtown. They made one area an auto-free zone and had a transit center right downtown with all the buses coming together.”

Clapper was so impressed with Boulder’s downtown that he hopes to invite Colorado city and county leaders to visit Kent and present a forum on how they achieved success.

But he added there are already successful aspects of Campus Link at Kent State.

“The esplanade has become the preferred mode of transportation here on campus,” Clapper said. “By extending the esplanade all the way downtown, that would help draw people downtown, and people are what makes retail work.”

So will Campus Link ever get the green light?

“As far as is it off or on? I don’t know what to tell you,” Clapper said. “Feasibility studies are still being conducted. I think people are looking for some sort of clear, black and white answer and there really is none. “

David Yochum