Summit County is providing money to the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition to fund their projects, including their ongoing efforts to revitalize Summit Lake and Lock 3 in Akron.
The district council has approved a $150,000 grant to the coalition. The county said it was “committed to work on the preservation and development of the Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor.”
Of the $150,000, $125,000 will be used to improve and develop towpaths at Summit Lake and Lock 3 and $25,000 for canal corridor development and trail planning through grants to various communities in partnership with the Coalition .
Phil Montgomery, the director of the county’s Department of Treasury and Treasury, said the $25,000 would be provided annually and the additional $125,000 would go towards work on Summit Lake and Lock 3 as part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons program.
Reimagining the Civic Commons is a nationwide grant program funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Akron was selected as one of five recipient cities in 2017.
The program focuses on three Civic Asset Areas along a 3-mile stretch of the Towpath Trail: downtown Akron’s Civic Gateway, Ohio & Erie Canal Park, and Summit Lake.
According to the Akron Civic Commons website, the goal is for the three realms to be “reimagined and connected to bring together economically diverse neighborhoods, build civic pride, and advance environmental sustainability.”
“This three-mile corridor connects our highest-paid and least diverse inner-city community with our most impoverished and most diverse community at Summit Lake,” the website reads.
Castle 3 Vision Plan in downtown Akron
Plans for the “Civic Gateway” – located at the north end of downtown and including the Akron Civic Theater, Lock 2 Park, Lock 3 Park, Lock 4 Park, Cascade Plaza, Main Street and the Akron-Summit County Public Library – include cross-site design and programming, the website says.
A project is currently underway to transform Schleuse 3 into the “Downtown Central Park”.
The money will be used to complete the final design for Lock 3 Park, with a planned groundbreaking in fall 2022.
Project barrier 3:The City of Akron and the Knight Foundation join forces to increase funding for Lock 3 renovation beyond original goal
Lock 3 in downtown Akron:Four things to know about the next steps in Lock 3’s redesign in downtown Akron
The project seeks to “build on the success of Lock 3 Park as a successful public space for events, concerts and festivals and develop a year-round park that is a destination for residents, guests, hikers and cyclists along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.” it says in a press release.
Priorities identified by residents include shaded seating, landscaped gardens, artwork, ice skating rinks and a performance pavilion.
Ohio & Erie Canal Park Projects
Located between downtown and Summit Lake, Ohio & Erie Canal Park plans include wayfinding, programming and infrastructure investments.
“Historically, the park has been anything but for the diverse residents of the neighborhood, whose housing includes homeowner condos, subsidized housing, and senior housing,” the website reads.
Previous work at the park, previously named Canal Park and Park East, has included the installation of a “Fit Trail” in collaboration with Torchbearers, a new mural designed by Lizzi Aronhalt, and underpass improvements by Adopt-A of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition trail program and a new playground. Outdoor concerts are offered by Alpha Phi Alpha Homes, and an ambassador program led by neighborhood resident John Rucker welcomes visitors, cleans up trash, and reports problems in the park.
Summit Lake Projects
Plans for Summit Lake include bike and canoe sharing, community gardens, and cultural programs.
There is also ongoing work, funded by a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that focuses on changes and investments in three areas: neighborhood (roads and sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, retail/business opportunities, open space, and recreational facilities, safety measures, public art and vacant lots reuse); residential construction (new housing construction and upgrades to existing housing and improvements or redevelopment of Summit Lake Apartments); and people (desired health, wellness, youth, education, employment, and family support services in the community).
Potential projects in 2022 include ways to slow traffic in Summit Lake, home exterior improvement programs, regular neighborhood cleanups, or a pilot greenway on vacant urban land to break up the long block and some neighborhood green space to provide. according to website.
Summit Lake Nature Center:New Nature Center, newest addition to Akron’s Pinnacle Lake
Summit Metro Parks Nature Center:The Summit Lake Nature Center will open on July 1st
There are several program options at Summit Lake, including canning and nutrition classes, community gardening, and summer farmer’s markets from Let’s Grow Akron; free guided canoe trips from the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition; Programming photography apprentices through student sourdough lenses with one goal; Fishing, crafts, children’s activities, and volunteer opportunities from Summit Metro Parks, who also built a nature center on the lake; and various programs from the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance.
A trail connecting the Summit Lake and Kenmore neighborhoods is under development, with additional facilities planned for the lake’s north shore, according to the Akron Civic Commons website.
Much of the work in all three areas has been driven by input from local residents.
Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, said a fundraiser is ongoing with the goal of raising additional funds for a second phase, including Locks 2 and 4, a downtown Akron game loop, and a foundation for operation and maintenance. Rice said preliminary estimates are an additional $10 million for the second phase at locks 2 and 4 and an additional $7.5 million for the second phase at Summit Lake.
Phase one raised $10,103,052 for Summit Lake and $10,222,000 for Lock 3.