Cities teaming up to form master plan for the Valley area

Staff report

Akron and Cuyahoga Falls are teaming up for a new joint planning process for the Merriman Valley and Schumacher Areas. 

The master plan would first focus on a study that includes analysis of the Merriman Road, Portage Path/Akron-Peninsula, and Portage Trail/Northampton corridors. Once created, the plan would focus on land use and development including zoning, urban design, transportation, environmental concerns, and economic development components while acknowledging the many recreational and hospitality opportunities in the Valley. 

The cities plan to hire Farr Associates this month, an architecture and planning firm headquartered in Chicago, to assist in developing the master plan. Each city has committed up to $100,000 to the planning costs. Opportunities for residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to engage, both online and in-person, will be made available. It is expected the process will begin this spring and conclude in early 2022.

Legislation will be introduced March 8 to Cuyahoga Falls Council to hire Farr Associates and public discussion will take place March 15 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.  If approved by council, Cuyahoga Falls will serve as the fiscal agent on this project.

In recent months, residents in both communities have fought against development proposals in the Valley.

The mayors say the proposed planning is exciting for both communities and "long overdue."

Much of the area was part of the old Northampton Township, portions of which were annexed by Akron and the remainder of which merged with Cuyahoga Falls in 1986.  

Community leaders say residential, retail and industrial development has occurred over the past several decades without an integrated plan for land use and development.

“This is a plan that is long overdue -- we all see the potential that exists in the Valley, our backyard, so close to the National Park,” stated Mayor Don Walters. “Our two planning departments have been working on this together for many months now, and they have enjoyed the teamwork. Now it’s time to bring in the experts and let the residents have their voices heard.”

"This is such an exciting time for our two communities as we look together toward the future of the Valley," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "The end result of this process will be a Master Plan which recognizes the unique opportunities for residential and retail development in an area that is blessed with natural beauty, contains wonderful recreational amenities and is at the foot of our National Park.”

For any questions/comments regarding the Merriman Valley & Schumacher Area Master Plan: In Akron, call: 330-375-2084, or email jsegedy@akronohio.gov. In Cuyahoga Falls, call: 330-971-8135, or email development@cityofcf.com.