Kent’s had a great run in the last 5 years and with so much going on it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come.
Here’s a quick look back at some favorite moments:
– It’s already had plenty of press but let’s shamelessly give it some more: The $140 million redevelopment of downtown Kent has provided an unprecedented boost to our local economy and hometown pride.
– The renewed spirit of collaboration with Kent State University has led to dozens of new town-gown partnership projects with faculty, students, and the administration that has allowed the Kent community to share in the talent and resources of Kent State University.
– The City emerged from the era of the “Great Recession” in a stronger position financially than when we went in, culminating in Kent being recognized by the State of Ohio in 2016 as 1 of only 16 cities out of 240 in Ohio to achieve the highest rating of overall financial health.
– The City’s long-standing commitment to the environment is paying-off with miles of hike and bike trails, a mature and diversified tree canopy, a healthy river teeming with aquatic life, recovered industrial properties, and award winning parks projects.
– Kent has a proud history and we’ve worked hard to honor that past, helping to preserve and restore historically important properties like the former Franklin Hotel, the Wells Sherman House, the old County Courthouse building, and most recently the Train Depot on Franklin Avenue, among other places around town.
– The City hired extra staff, adopted tougher rental standards, tightened regulations, and used the results of a citywide housing study to develop targeted strategies to preserve and enrich City neighborhoods, and the strength of local home sales suggests it’s working.
– The growing national divide on social issues inspired Kent City Council to unanimously vote to launch the new “One Kent” initiative and enact a series of local laws that raised the bar in protecting the dignity and rights of everyone that lives, visits, and works in Kent.
– City Council authorized record levels of funding in repairing City streets and sidewalks and those investments have helped chip-away at the always monumental challenge of keeping up with an aging public infrastructure.
As impressive as the list of accomplishments may be, few of those successes mean as much as the gains that have been made in public safety where every step forward can save a life.
– In 2017, City Council approved the creation of 3 new firefighter/ems positions which allowed staffing per shift to increase for the first time in decades. More staff on shift means faster response to emergency calls, and faster response times means help gets to you faster than ever before.
– In 2013 the Kent community supported a levy to build a new state of the art Police Station which should be open around the time you’re reading this. That building is designed to meet the needs of a modern, professional Police staff for decades with better training, better technology, better productivity, and better community engagement – all of which leads to better community policing.
– One of the technological advances included in the new Police Station is an upgrade in the 911 dispatch capabilities. The next-generation 911 platform provides expanded redundancy and inter-operability, as well as enhanced cell phone locating with the capability to accept video and text messages through 911. When seconds count, a faster and more reliable 911 platform makes sure you get help when you need it.
– In the private sector, University Hospital has acquired the former Robinson Memorial medical campus in Kent (at Devon Place), investing $3-$5 million to add new Emergency Room and Urgent Care facilities. With expanded stroke and heart attack care available in our own backyard, those shorter trips can be the difference between life and death.
– Last, but certainly not least, Kent City Council authorized a significant upgrade in the City’s public safety radios that will enable us to use the State of Ohio MARCS 800 megahertz platform starting in 2018. The City’s current public safety radios use the old VHF band that most of us remember from the days of television before cable. From your own VHF TV experience you may remember moving your TV antenna around trying to get a better reception. Sometimes that would work but other times no matter what you tried different sources of interference kept the images fuzzy.
A fuzzy TV is frustrating but a fuzzy connection on public safety radios can be a matter of life safety for residents and our emergency response crews.
The State of Ohio built a powerful radio platform (MARCS) in the 800 megahertz range to serve their State agencies and they’ve invited cities and counties to join them on that network. We’re taking them up on that offer.
The MARCS radio platform promises everything we’ll need to ensure the safety of our residents and our employees – and while the upgrade was a significant investment ($570,000), you can’t put a price on saving lives.
Stay tuned for more in 2018.