New design for Kent roadway

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Rick Hawksley of the Fuller Design Group presented the Men's Garden Club of Kent, city officials and downtown business owners Monday with a preliminary master plan of what the intersections of Haymaker Parkway and Water and DePeyster streets would look like. About 60 people attended the meeting.

John Gwinn, chairman of the garden club's beautification committee, said the club decided to take on the area around the city's safety building as a beautification project, but was unsure of what approach to take.

The club then consulted with Hawksley, who suggested a broader plan might be in order to make sure the flowers would fit into the downtown landscape.

The plan, Gwinn said, is too large for the garden club to handle alone, so now members are considering asking others in the community to contribute to the project.

However, the club's executive board has yet to decide what role it will take in the upgrade.

"We're the Tree City, but we're not the beautiful Tree City," Gwinn said.

Hawksley said the plan would focus on the "downtown gateway" by improving the area from DePeyster Street to the bridge on Haymaker.

He has already had preliminary discussions with the Downtown Kent Corporation, the Downtown Management District, Kent State University and the Kent Environmental Council.

Recently, KEC members raised concerns about the lack of maintenance of the parkway.

The landscaping of Haymaker Parkway was taken over by the KEC as a service project in 1985, and more than 500 residents, groups, organizations and businesses contributed to the project. In 1993, it was turned over to the city to maintain.

But this year, several plants along the parkway died due to a lack of maintenance early in the growing season.

He said the proposed plantings would increase color, including more flowering bushes and shrubs, and include low-level lighting to draw more attention to the flowers.

Plans might also include electrical circuits in the intersections so they could be lit each Christmas.

Plans for the northeast corner of Haymaker and Water are especially elaborate. Old pine trees would be removed and replaced with flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses, and a liquid crystal board to tell people who drive through the area about upcoming events in the downtown, city and at KSU.

Hawksley called the corner a "very critical corner" because of its close proximity to the downtown area.

"Since that area is adjacent to the downtown, we wanted to create landscaping so you're able to see the downtown a little better," he said.

Gwinn said more formal meetings will be held later, but Monday's forum took place so people could be more informed about the potential for the parkway.

"I think as people are finding out what could be done there, they're getting excited about it," he said. "I think people were impressed to see it and want to see what happens next."

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