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Report Shows Reimagining the Civic Commons Project is Helping Revitalize Akron Neighborhoods

A photo of Summit Lake
The Knight Foundation's report points to small improvements making a big difference in Summit Lake, Park East and downtown Akron.

Akron’s Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition is making progress in its effort to revitalize declining neighborhoods.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently released a report on the progress made in Akron, Memphis, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia under the Reimagining the Civic Commons program.  Knight and several other foundations provided $20 million divided equally between the five cities.

For the past three years, the Akron community has been working to reimagine public places in three neighborhoods -  downtown, Park East and Summit Lake.

The report points to small improvements making a big difference in those neighborhoods, which are affected by Akron’s infrastructure, according to Knight’s Akron Program Director Kyle Kutuchief.

“Between downtown, Park East and Summit Lake, if you look at a map, you can see how the built environment of Akron has separated people,” Kutuchief said. “Interstate 77, Route 59 are these Great Walls of China that have cut off neighborhoods from one another and have cut off a lot of that social fabric that used to exist.”

Improvements like lighting, signage and landscaping have been made at Summit Lake, along the Towpath Trail, at the canal and in parks in each neighborhood.

Programming for all ages has also helped bring people together. You can view the complete report here.

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.