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Kent City Council continues talks about new police station

By Marchae Grair
Ohio.com correspondent

Kent Council 1-16
Councilmen Wayne Wilson (left) and Jack Amrhein listen to an agenda item during a Kent City Council meeting on Wednesday. (Marchae Grair/Ohio.com)

KENT: City Council held its meeting Wednesday with a packed crowd of Kent State students, concerned citizens, and even a state representative. 

The legislation that required the most discussion occurred during the conclusion of the meeting when Councilman John Kuhar made a motion to consider vacant land on Mogadore Road for the location to build a new police station.

“The land was turned over to the city at no cost,” Kuhar said, citing cost and the amount of land at the Mogadore lot as the primary reasons for his motion for the location. He said the land was tested and cleared for all environmental issues, so the cost would also be less than areas that needed heavier inspection.

The consideration will stand, following a passing motion of 7-2, with Roger Sidoti and Heidi Shaffer dissenting.

Shaffer believes the location at 800 Mogadore Road should be strictly reserved for industrial buildings or other businesses that will bring more jobs to Kent.

Earlier this month, City Manager Dave Ruller advised council to not ask voters for funding for the new building until after the May election, as to not compete with an 8.9-mill levy by Kent City Schools. 

Kent voters rejected a request for an income tax increase from 2 percent to 2.25 percent during the November election. The increase would have raised $1.3 million for the design and construction of a new police station.

The current building at Water Street and Haymaker Parkway is 88 years old. It would cost about $18 million to replace, officials have said.

While council agreed to not place anything on the May ballot, Ruller said they could still decide to attempt something earlier than November of this year. 

The meeting started with a presentation by State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, congratulating the council and its administration on the great development and progress in the city. Clyde said she looked forward to working with council again.

The council was very thankful she took the time to visit, but she wasn’t the only congressional representative in Kent that day.

Mayor Jerry T. Fiala said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown took a tour of the AMETEK Building earlier that day and the senator seemed to understand how cities such as Kent benefited from government money for improvement projects.

“The city of Kent is in the limelight,” Fiala said.

A large portion of the crowd attended in association with The Concerned Citizens of Ohio, a group assembled to voice concerns about fracking, or drilling liquid into the ground to acquire natural gas.

Most of the information presented by the group addressed preventative measures the city could take to deter higher levels in fracking, such as fees for infrastructure damage, frequent water testing by the companies who intend to frack, and legal fee compensation by companies who require the city or individuals to take legal action in result of the company’s fracking processes.

There was also a Reporting Public Affairs class in attendance from Kent State to introduce themselves to the council members whose decisions they will follow for a semester.