KENT: New construction, disabilities awareness month, an upcoming marathon, government grants and water safety were all on the agenda for the Kent City Council at its meeting Wednesday.
Prior to the start of the main portion of the meeting, council heard a presentation on the new home of the architecture department at Kent State University and how the building fits in with the new KSU Gateway Esplanade that will connect the revitalized downtown area with the KSU campus.
Council members asked questions about pedestrian and vehicle traffic impacts the new building will create and how the project will be both aesthetically pleasing while also being functional and environmentally friendly.
The current timeline for the new building is preliminary work beginning as soon as the end of 2013, groundbreaking in 2014 and classes being held in the building by the fall of 2015.
The university is currently choosing from four design firms that made the cut from the initial pool of applicants to design the building.
Dr. Patrick Mackey, president of the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities, addressed the council to share news about Disabilities Awareness Month in Ohio, which is March. Mackey explained that the Board of Developmental Disabilities helps nearly 900 Portage County residents with disabilities, and 25 percent of those people reside in Kent.
"We have a $23 million budget and are unique in that we both receive support and provide funding for programs that help those with disabilities," Mackey said.
He also mentioned that the board would have two renewal levies on the ballot in November.
The council also received an update from Melissa Cairns, the director of the On My Own 2 Feet marathon, scheduled for April. Cairns thanked the council for approving the second running of the race in 2013 and said there are currently 60 registered entrants, halfway to the 120 runners who took part last year without any advertising.
"I'm trying to get new business involved as well. Thank you guys for passing this and believing in it," Cairns said.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer introduced a motion to have the council's Sustainability Committee take action on one of its suggestions of notifying the council of any drilling activities "in the imminent vicinity of Kent."
Shaffer raised the issue because of concerns about the safety of the city's water supply and also asked about the stability of roadways and infrastructure in relation to the same issue.
Council also unanimously approved an amendment to an ordinance passed on Jan. 16, which eliminated two police dispatch coordinators, through attrition, thereby increasing the number of clerk/dispatchers by two.
Unanimous votes also approved the adoption of the solid waste management plan for the Portage County Solid Waste Management district and the adoption of an appropriation ordinance to increase appropriations to the general, water, sewer, storm water and capital funds.
An ordinance to accept a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the amount of $38,855 and to execute an agreement between the city and the Haymaker Farmers' Market was also approved. The grant will be applied to the market's operations.