KENT: City Council met on Tuesday night with the topic of conversation revolving around the excitement in the downtown area.
Two weeks after the parking deck at PARTA’s Kent Central Gateway opened, the council spoke of the revitalization of downtown and how the city’s landscape has changed over the past two years.
Heidi Shaffer, Councilwoman of Ward 5, raved of the crowds seen walking the streets of downtown and marveling at the progress that has been made.
“I cannot believe how excited I am about the parking deck opening,” Shaffer said. “I could not believe the volume of the people downtown over the weekend. I have to keep telling myself that school is out.”
Mayor Jerry Fiala echoed that sentiment, indicating that the city had its tenth ribbon-cutting ceremony of the year, while 19 such events took place in 2012. Shaffer said that she and City Manager Dave Ruller have spoken to several business owners in downtown Kent and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. After speaking to owners, Shaffer said she had heard of businesses seeing twice as much activity then prior to the garage’s opening.
“I’m sure we had of families downtown for graduation, but it’s fabulous,” Shaffer said.
Councilman Roger Sidoti also pointed to the weekend’s graduation festivities and Monday’s outdoor concert downtown as a testament to the city’s true identity.
“Being able to witness Monday night and the energy that was downtown, it was really wonderful,” Sidoti said. “The cross section of the community speaks volumes of who we are. This is not a small group that’s limited to certain ages. It made me feel really proud to be a part of Kent.”
On the topic of downtown, Councilman John Kuhar of Ward 4, brought to the council’s attention the issue of dog feces. As more residents roam the downtown streets of Kent, more dogs have been brought on walks, leaving a mess on sidewalks all over the city. Kuhar said after speaking to several residents about the issue, he believes it’s in the city’s best interest to notify citizens of the ordinance against not cleaning up after pets, especially with the lack of grass in the area.
“We’ve got to do something,” Kuhar said. “If we are expecting people to come into our community, that’s the last thing we want them to see.”
The council unanimously agreed to address the issue with the city’s health department. Ideas included signs notifying citizens of the potential fines, as well as bags for citizens to use to clean up the mess.