Summit County helps fund work at Lock 3, Summit Lake
Summit County donates money to the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition to help fund its projects, including its ongoing efforts to revitalize Summit Lake and Lock 3 in Akron.
The county council has approved a $150,000 grant to the coalition. The county said it was “committed to working to preserve and develop the Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor.”
Of the $150,000, $125,000 will support towpath improvement and development at Summit Lake and Lock 3, and $25,000 will be for canal corridor development and trail planning through grants to various communities in partnership with the coalition.
Phil Montgomery, director of the county’s finance and budget department, said the $25,000 is paid annually and the additional $125,000 is for work at Summit Lake and Lock 3 under the program. Reimagining the Civic Commons.
Reimagining the Civic Commons is a national granting program through 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” within a 3-mile stretch of the towpath: the “civic walkway” in downtown Akron, the Ohio & Erie Canal Park, and Summit Lake.
According to the Akron Civic Commons website, the goal is for the three areas to “be redesigned and connected to bring together economically diverse neighborhoods, build civic pride, and advance environmental sustainability.”
“This three-mile corridor connects our highest-paying, least-diverse downtown community to our poorest, most-diverse community in Summit Lake,” the website says.
Vision Plan of Lock 3 in Downtown Akron
Plans for the “Civic Gateway” – which is located at the north end of downtown and includes the Akron Civic Theater, Lock 2 Park, Lock 3 Park, Lock 4 Park, Cascade Plaza, Main Street and the Akron-Summit County Public Library – includes design and programming across locations, according to the website.
There is currently a project underway to turn Lock 3 into “Downtown Central Park”.
The total projected cost of the Lock 3 Vision plan is $10 million. The City of Akron committed $5 million and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation committed $5.5 million.
With the money, the final design of the Lock 3 park will be completed, with groundbreaking proposed in the fall of 2022.
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The project aims 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,” according to a press release.
Priorities identified by residents include shaded seating, landscaped gardens, artwork, skating areas and a performance pavilion.
Ohio & Erie Canal Park Projects
Plans for the Ohio & Erie Canal Park – located between downtown and Summit Lake – include wayfinding, programming and infrastructure investments.
“Historically, the park has been anything but for the neighborhood’s diverse residents, whose accommodations include condos for homeowners, subsidized housing, and seniors’ residences,” the website says.
Work so far in the park, formerly known as Canal Park and Park East, has included the installation of a “Fit Trail” in partnership with Torchbearers, a new mural designed by Lizzi Aronhalt, improvements to the underpass through at the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition’s Adopt-A -Trail Program and a new playground. Outdoor concerts are hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Homes and an ambassador program led by neighborhood resident John Rucker welcomes visitors, cleans up trash and reports issues in the park.
Summit Lake Projects
Plans for Summit Lake include bike and canoe sharing, community gardens and cultural programming.
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: the neighborhood (streets and sidewalks, cycling infrastructure, retail/commercial opportunities, open spaces and recreational facilities, security measures, public art and reuse of vacant land); housing (new units and upgrades to existing units and upgrades or redevelopment of Summit Lake apartments); and people (health, welfare, youth, education, employment and family support services desired in the community).
Possible projects in 2022 include ways to slow down traffic in Summit Lake, home exterior improvement programs, regular neighborhood cleanups or a pilot greenway on vacant city land to break up the long block and provide green spaces in the neighborhood, according to the website.
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There are several programming options at Summit Lake, including Canning and Nutrition Classes, Community Gardening, and Let’s Grow Akron Summer Farmers Markets; free guided canoe trips from the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition; programming apprentice photographers through Students with a Goal’s Leaven Lenses; fishing, crafts, children’s activities and volunteer opportunities from Summit Metro Parks, which has also built a lakeside nature center; and various Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance programs.
A trail connecting the Summit Lake and Kenmore neighborhoods is under development, with additional amenities planned for the north shore of the lake, according to the Akron Civic Commons website.
Much of the work in all three areas has been driven by input from local residents.
Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition President and CEO Dan Rice said a fundraising campaign is continuing, with the goal of raising additional funds for a second phase, including Locks 2 and 4. , a downtown Akron play loop, and operations and maintenance staffing. Rice said preliminary estimates for phase two of Locks 2 and 4 are an additional $10 million, and for phase two at Summit Lake an additional $7.5 million.
In the first phase, $10,103,052 was raised for Summit Lake and $10,222,000 was raised for Lock 3.