I’m back at work after a mini-vacation and I’m feeling rejuvenated, partly because everything looks better after some time off — but more importantly because of what I see coming up over the horizon in 2007. Here’s some things the Swami sees for Kent this year.
The following are the city manager’s aspirations, dreams, and goals wrapped up in a series of thoughtful prognistications for 2007.
2007 Newspaper Headline Forecast for Kent
“Downtown Main Street Program Excites a Flurry of New Businesses Downtown”
I’m going out on a limb but I’m predicting at least 3 new restaurants to open downtown in 2007, including a couple of new outdoor deck cafe’s.
“Restored Hotel Set to Open By the End of the Year”
I’ve read the inspection report and I’ve become a believer that the owner is going to deliver what he promised — a renovated hotel with a combination of restaurant and residential space — and rather than waiting he’s going to get it done this year.
“Kent Cultural Arts Commission Announces Plans for Kent Cultural Arts Center”
I think we’ll see a new volunteer Arts Commission emerge that will combine the resources of the arts community in Kent and rally around a plan for a new downtown Cultural Arts Center.
“Design Complete for New Multi-Modal Center In Downtown Kent”
The team of City staff, University staff, PARTA staff, business owners and Kent residents will select a location and finalize design plans for a new bus, pedestrian, bicycle and automobile hub downtown.
“Portage County Demolishes the Old Dome Building in Downtown Kent.”
The County is working hard to find funds to remove the Old Dome building behind the County Courthouse and I think they’ll pull it off this year.
“City and County Agree to Work Together On a Joint County Courthouse/Public Safety Building”
This idea just makes too much sense not to happen. It won’t get built for a couple of years but this is the year that I think we’ll see public commitments to make it happen.
“The Doors Open to the New Liquid Crystal Incubator on Kent State Campus”
This one is easy since the University announced last month that it received an $8 million grant to transform the old bus garage into a state of the art manufacturing incubator for flexible liquid crystal products.
“Skateboards Take to the Air in Kent’s New Skatepark”
In 2006 Parks and Recreation partnered with Kent State architectural students to create a vision for a new skatepark and I think they’ve got enough momentum behind the project to actually have the first phase of the project completed this year.
“Businesses Expand Along Cuyahoga River”
Copying the success of Riverside Wines, more businesses will take advantage of the great river views and available land along the Cuyahoga. If I had the money I’d do it myself.
“City and University Find a Developer to Work on Kent Hotel Conference Center”
I know, you’ve heard it before, but I think there’s good reason to believe it this time. Seriously, timing is everything in the development business and I think the timing is right for a new Kent hotel and conference center.
“Building Off Liquid Crystal Incubator Success, City and University Announce Plans to Locate a High Tech Business Incubator”
This one may still be a stretch, but you’ve got to dream big. I think people generally agree that incubating spin off businesses from university based research has to be a centerpiece of our economic development strategy, but funding is still an issue that is holding this back. Anybody have a philanthropic uncle out there?
“Kent Roosevelt Students Get Involved in Their City, Their Future”
We’ve got some talented teenagers here in Kent that are anxious to do more and this will be the year that we find ways to tap into their enthusiasm to re-energize Kent. Stay tuned.
“Largest Bridge Project In Portage County History Gets Underway on Crain Avenue”
This project has been long in coming, and I would expect to see a surge of activity related to acquiring the right of way and possibly even preliminary construction work.
There’s still more but I need to save a few to surprise you along the way.
If you had any doubts, I think you can see for yourself that 2007 holds a lot of promise for Kent.
I can’t wait.