Main Street Ohio Program approved

Theresa Montgomery

Kent City Council had a lot on its plate at last night’s council meeting. When it was over, not a crumb had been rejected.

From removing designated smoking areas from city government buildings to approving the Main Street Ohio Program for Kent, the council passed all ordinances on its agenda.

A date to implement the new smoke-free city building policy has not yet been set.

Kent resident Mike DeLuke had some concerns about the council’s decision.

“Whether or not smoking should or shouldn’t be allowed is not the issue for me,” DeLuke said. “What does concern me is that it is a term and condition of employment, and should be negotiated.”

The only point of dissent in the discussion of the Main Street program centered on the city’s funding of Mary Gilbert, the city’s sustainability planner who will direct the program for at least the first year.

“Mary is highly qualified,” Councilman Garret Ferrara said. “I don’t think there’s any question the city will get its money’s worth from the program.”

Councilman Rick Hawksley pointed out that these issues can be addressed in a memo of understanding that will be established between the city and Heritage Ohio, the organization administering the Main Street Program.

A number of community leaders are pulling together to move the project ahead, despite coming from a variety of sectors and backgrounds. Those working together to bring the Main Street Program to Kent say they find themselves agreeing on common goals in a way they hadn’t before.

“It’s the first time this has happened since I’ve been here,” said Gary Lockwood, who has lived in Kent on-and-off since the late 1960s. “The town and council are really getting behind this. They’re matching their words with their actions.”

Kent State does not see much of a downside to the program, said David Creamer, vice president for administration.

“I still only have very basic information about the program,” Creamer said in an e-mail. “But it is evident that it has worked for other cities. No plan can guarantee success, but this format improves the prospects through proven strategies and tactics when effectively implemented.”

Contact public affairs reporter Theresa Montgomery at [email protected].