The city of Kent turned on its electronic community sign at the intersection of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street Tuesday, offering passersby a friendly "Welcome to Kent."
The sign will serve both the city and Kent State University to inform the public of upcoming events and important notifications.
Suzanne Robertson, assistant to Kent's city manager, said messages will rotate on the sign and will include city-sponsored community events such as ones hosted by Main Street Kent, Standing Rock Cultural Arts and the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, athletic games, university speaking events that are open to the public, safety items, speaking events at the university and more.
"At this point we're not opening it up to social clubs, only because we have to stop somewhere and it's hard to say 'yes' to one group and 'no' to another," Robertson said, noting that the city may expand what programs are posted in the future, but for now it's strictly for items financially sponsored by the city or university.
The sign's $92,000 cost was split by the city and KSU.
Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said he and former Councilman Ed Pease started pushing for a community sign in the 1980s after attending a meeting where the topic was discussed.
"We're thinking that was 25 or 30 years ago -- in that time period," Fiala said. "I can't pinpoint the exact date."
He said the sign always was planned for the corner of South Water Street and Haymaker Parkway, long before the city partnered with Fairmount Properties to redevelop the site bounded by DePeyster Street, Erie Street, Haymaker Parkway and Water Street.
"There are people that are a little critical that it's blocking Panini's (Bar and Grill), but I think now that it's up and running and going to get landscaping, it's going to be a real plus for that corner," he said. "It gives everybody the knowledge to know what's going on in Kent and at the university."
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