Kent planners got their own look at some of the proposed renovations of Kent State University, including some that will have a direct impact on residents who live on the city’s east side.
Michael Bruder, a member of the city’s planning commission who also works as KSU’s University Architect, gave his fellow commission members a look at the latest version of KSU’s master plan, which was unveiled in March.
Bruder stressed that the entire plan would need $1.2 billion to implement, and not all the proposals outlined in later phases of the plan would transpire. Right now, he said, KSU is focusing on Phase 1, which includes $220 million in improvements between now and 2020.
Projects included in that phase include a new College of Business Administration building, an “Interdisciplinary Studios and Innovation Zone,” an Innovation Hub and dining, and enhancement to teaching, learning and research facilities. Those projects could include a new classroom building at the KSU Airport, the first phase of an enhancement of the Integrated Science Building, an addition and renovation to Rockwell Hall and the first phase of renovations at White Hall. ROTC and fashion studios would be moved from Terrace Hall, which also would be demolished under the plan, as would the Williamson House, associated carriage house and Cutler building. The re-alignment of Terrace and Midway Drives are part of that first phase, as is a parking deck near the business building.
The parking deck is proposed near the College of Business Administration, pictured off Midway Drive. On the plan, it is pictured on the site of the Williamson House, a building that once served as the residence of KSU’s president, then the Alumni Center and, most recently, the Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services office.
Eventually, Bruder said, KSU hopes to extend the “front campus” area off Main Street, replacing a parking lot with a park-like lawn and amphitheater.
“As we begin to move forward with a transformative 10-year Master Plan, we are still evaluating a number of possibilities to create the iconic entrance to the front campus that will welcome Kent State’s students and their families for decades to come,” said KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield. “The physical locations of the new College of Business Administration Building and the adjacent parking deck are still being finalized, and we continue to consider public input in developing these plans.”
Kim Sebaly expressed concerns about the potential demolition of the Williamson House, noting that there are several rare species of trees on the property, and worried that stakes on the property could signal future construction. A parking deck that could go there, he said, is “a major topic of discussion” among his neighbors, he said.
Bruder pointed out that the stakes are there for surveying purposes, and KSU is “nowhere near construction” in the area.
Sebaly said he appreciated KSU’s efforts to include the neighbors in the plan, and City Engineer Jim Bowling’s efforts to include East Main neighbors in discussions about traffic calming.
“Instead of ‘a transformed KSU,’ this plan really should be called a ‘transformed city of Kent,’ ” he said.