Campus link proposes Haymaker realignment

Dave Yochum

Haymaker Parkway, a major traffic artery west of campus, could be realigned as part of the Campus Link downtown revitalization project.

Campus Link proposals say Haymaker – which connects to West Main Street near Wordsmiths copy center – physically and perceptually severs the link between downtown Kent and the Kent State campus. Plans say restoring the link will infuse new life into downtown and boost retail development, but reshaping Haymaker would affect homes and businesses west of South Lincoln Street.

Current design illustrations show Haymaker could be realigned at its eastern end, removed east of Depeyster Street or left in its current position. However, Tom Clapper, Parking Services general manager, said realigning the street would be the least likely option because of traffic congestion and high cost.

All Haymaker concepts cater to additional elements of the Campus Link proposal, which include a two-story executive training center, four-story hotel, and a multi-modal facility with a 600-space parking structure and PARTA bus transfer station.

Bryan Smith, PARTA business development manager, said aspects of the multi-modal facility would be shaped by citizen opinions. The facility would assist both mass transit and pedestrian traffic.

Clapper explained Campus Link concepts were designed to re-establish a street grid system, asserting the proposals reflect community interests – helping to ease pollution and gas concerns while creating green space.

“We’re hoping to take some of the traffic away from Haymaker and increase mass transit use,” Clapper explained. “The transfer center for PARTA would connect off-campus and on-campus routes, while a bike trail and pedestrian walkway would extend from campus into downtown. These are all integrated parts, though – you can’t affect one without affecting the other. We want to reshape transportation in Kent and at Kent State, but this is all long term in nature.”

Kent citizens have already voiced concerns over tearing down homes for the new multi-modal facility, but Smith stressed it’s important to work with the community for the project.

“We don’t want to seize homes by eminent domain,” Smith said. “The last thing PARTA or the Federal Transit Administration wants is a front page story in the New York Times over this project.”

Retailers in Kinko’s Plaza could be moved by the Haymaker restructuring. According to design plans, the plaza may be redeveloped to face the parkway, enhancing the visibility of retail tenants and creating a landmark at the end of Haymaker.

Because the Campus Link project has many different steps, most sources could not give a time frame for when the proposals could become a reality.

Kent State received a planning grant to study Campus Link proposals, while future support for construction would come from the FTA.

Parking Services has been working with PARTA, the City of Kent Transportation Advisory Committee, and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) to develop Campus Link plans.

Contact transportation reporter Dave Yochum at [email protected].