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Portage growth, declines tracked

By Mike SeverRecord-Courier staff writer Published: November 19, 1997 12:00 AM

According to the bureau's latest estimates, Aurora's population jumped 26 percent since 1990. The city was the sixth largest percentage of growth noted in Ohio. At the same time Kent's population declined by 6.1 percent.

The bureau's estimates show that two of the county's four cities increased in population while two others declined.

Some of the details of the latest census information:

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Aurora and Streetsboro are running neck and neck to be the second largest city in the county. The new estimates show Streetsboro behind by only 679 people.

The city of Stow, next door in Summit County, eclipsed Kent in population. Stow now totals 30,864 to Kent's 27,072 according to the Census Bureau. Kent is Portage County's largest city.

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Kent's loss of an estimated 1,763 population gave it the fifth largest percentage decline in the state.

Aurora's population grew from 9,319 in 1990 to 11,584 last year.

At the same time Kent's population is estimated to have declined from 28,835 to 27,072.

The census bureau said Streetsboro was the second-fastest growing community, adding 973 people since 1990 for a total population of 10,905.

Ravenna is also estimated to have lost population, down 2 percent, while Ravenna Township grew by 7.6 percent.

There is some strong disagreement with the new census estimates.

"That's not possible. It's just not possible," said Bob Miller, Ravenna's economic development director. "Since 1990, we've put up apartments and condominiums and about 15 new homes a year for the past 10 years. How can you add almost 800 housing units and lose 200 people? It's just not possible."

He said he's not sure if the city would challenge the numbers. "We would have no reason to challenge it unless the mayor or council wanted to," Miller said.

Lynne Erickson, executive director of the Portage County Regional Planning District, also disagreed with some of the numbers.

"I don't know why (Kent) would be losing population. They have several new developments going in. I just don't buy it," she said. Regional planning's estimates show continued growth in Kent and Ravenna.

"I think the next census would verify those numbers. I don't know what they're basing that on. It certainly goes against the trend," Erickson said. "Local estimates are usually more accurate than state or national estimates. You know what's going on in the community."

Other organizations, such as the Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization will break down the numbers for use by local planning groups.

Miller said the Streetsboro growth numbers are probably more realistic.

"In Streetsboro they average at least 40 new single family homes a year and you have to figures at least two people per unit. I would say (the increase is) light" for Streetsboro's population," Miller said. "When we get an actual count you'll see that Streetsboro is the largest city in the county (outside of Kent)."

Population growth in the townships shows the trend of people leaving older communities for wider spaces.

"This doesn't surprise me in the least. I see all these new home projects going up in the township." said Ravenna Township Trustee Patsy Artz.

"Our property tax values will go up, and that's good for the township" to allow for better services, she said.

"We get a lot of people who want to live in the country, but it's a relatively close drive to the cities."

Artz said a growing concern is land conservation to maintain the rural atmosphere of the township.

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