City of Kent, university collaborate on plans for Terrace Hall

att Fredmonsky

Kent State is working with the city of Kent to decide what to do with the land currently occupied by Terrace Hall.

Administrators formed the University Area Project and Traffic Planning Citizens Advisory Committee with the intention of studying traffic and parking patterns on-and-off campus.

Residents, business owners, city officials and university officials are all part of the committee.

“Terrace Hall is the first issue on the committee’s agenda,” said David Merleno, director of public service for the city of Kent. “This is the first project the university is pursuing, and they’re hoping for feedback by early spring.”

David Creamer, the university’s vice president of administration, puts the residence hall on a timeline to be razed in about a year.

“We have already determined there was no need for the beds this year; however, we will keep Terrace Hall up until next fall in case a need for the building arises,” Creamer said.

Both city and university officials say no pre-conceived plans exist for the site. Merleno said the university is giving latitude to the citizens by asking them to voice their concerns through the committee.

“University administrators do not need to seek permission from the city before they build something like a deck or lot,” Merleno said. “Administrators have taken it upon themselves to be a good neighbor to the community.”

The advisory committee will provide criteria to the university, and the university will come up with a preliminary design. Then that design will go back to the committee for approval. The university will come up with a final design before construction begins.

In order to be appointed to the committee, residents had to submit letters of intent to the city. Diane Stresing is a resident of Kent who wants to see both the university and the city maximize their resources.

“The community and the university may be separate resources in and of themselves, but they need to come together even more in order for us to all benefit,” Stresing said.

Creamer said the university recognizes a need for community input, and he acknowledged the difficulty in pleasing everyone.

“We want the committee to function independently of the university,” Creamer said. “Ultimately we can reject or accept their views, but we want to balance the needs of our students with those of Kent’s residents.”

The university is not considering renovating the building because of the immense cost involved.

“The options are straightforward,” Creamer said. “The site can be used for a parking garage, a surface lot or be returned to green space.”

He said before additional parking would be built, administrators would have to determine a real demand for it exists among students.

In the past, residents have voiced concerns over such a project because of how it would change the face of the landscape.

“A garage on such an entrance point to campus would make Kent seem more urban, more like the University of Akron,” Stresing said. “One of the appeals of sending your kids to Kent State is its appearance, and a garage on Main Street makes it less attractive.”

The University Area Project and Traffic Planning Citizens Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kent Fire Department on South Water Street.

Contact public affairs reporter Matt Fredmonsky at [email protected].