City manager meets with Kent residents, students

Elise Franco

Although only a few Kent residents attended, City Manager Dave Ruller was eager to address several topics concerning both the city of Kent and Kent State this morning at The Rock Caf‚.

An agenda wasn’t set, but he opened the meeting by discussing a recent survey taken by citizens of Kent, noting that half of Kent residents who responded singled out restoring Kent as their major issue with the city.

Ruller said that Kent Main Street Program manager Mary Gilbert had been hired and just received her first year of funding. She is already working with merchants and business people in Kent to help restoration.

“We think downtown is the heart and soul of Kent, and right now it’s in transition,” he said.

Ruller mentioned more development between the university and the city, applauding university president Lester Lefton for reaching out into the community, noting preliminary plans to create a student fashion store in downtown.

The meeting also focused widely on the abandoned hotel in downtown Kent, known to many as the Y2K building.

“We don’t own the building,” he said. “And it would need $1.5 to $2 million to restore it properly. The owner doesn’t have that money.”

One recent Kent State graduate asked about rumors of turning the abandoned building into a cultural center or office building, but Ruller underlined that no plans could be confirmed at this time.

Contact public affairs reporter Elise Franco at [email protected] Additional reporting by Bob Taylor and Amanda Stanley.