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Neighborhood projects funded in Akron

5/2/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The city of Akron will award $223,461 to 57 projects through its Neighborhood Partnership Program upon Akron City Council’s April 29 approval.

The Neighborhood Partnership Program provides small neighborhood-based organizations with resources to strengthen and improve their neighborhoods through safety, education, cleanup or vacant lot improvement projects. There were 76 applications this year, requesting almost $440,700.

The Akron Community Foundation provided $75,000 toward funding this year’s requests; the organizations receiving funding are required to match their grants dollar-for-dollar.

In West Akron, some of the programs and projects that will be funded include:

  • Dancing Classrooms for eighth-grade students at Litchfield Middle School;
  • Braewick Circle Community Park;
  • Brookshire Garden Group for a community garden;
  • after-school programming for Case Elementary School students;
  • tutoring at Schumacher Community Learning Center;
  • Project GRAD Akron for the 2013 Expo for Success;
  • West Akron Community Day Festival and Parade;
  • West Akron Little League; and
  • Woodland United Methodist Church for its iStrive after-school program.

In other legislative action, Council approved:

√ a $1 million water main replacement program for 2013. Water mains most in need of repair due to repeated breaks will be addressed, including mains along Thurmont Road, Seward Avenue and Rose Boulevard in West Akron. Council also approved applying for a Water Supply Revolving Loan Fund loan for the program; and

√ the annual $15,000 operating subsidy for the Cascade Locks Park Association.

Council also placed on next week’s consent agenda — a list of routine legislation typically approved with one vote — two ordinances authorizing the purchase of a new fire truck and 12 lead heart monitors, hydraulic extrication equipment and highway safety equipment.

The city has received grant funding in the amount of $480,000 for the truck and will provide $120,000 in matching funds. The Quint truck features both a pumper and ladder. For the remaining equipment, the city received nearly $520,000 in grant funding and will provide nearly $130,000 in matching funds.

In other business, more than a dozen University of Akron (UA) students, alumni and employees, as well as community members, shared their concerns about the planned closure of UA’s Office of Multicultural Development (OMD).

“We’re all concerned with the retention rates and the overall graduation rate at The University of Akron,” said student Michael Davis, who said requests for more information about the decision haven’t been met by UA. “There’s a lack of communication. … They’re reluctant to meet with us.”

NAACP President Ophelia Averitt was among those who spoke, urging Council to “hear our cry, because these [students] are our future.”

Those who spoke clearly had Council members’ ears.

“Tonight your education showed,” Council President Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) told the students, praising their respectful and well-organized comments. “You represented yourselves very well.”

Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) said he is “disturbed” by UA’s decision to eliminate the OMD.

“It would be a shame to have an urban university that is not serving its urban population,” he said.

Williams said Council should demand a meeting with UA President Luis Proenza. Councilwoman Margo Sommerville (D-Ward 3) added a meeting with UA’s Board of Trustees might be more effective, and Moneypenny suggested the matter could be taken before the Ohio Board of Regents.

“The university owes the students a plan; they owe the students an explanation,” said Councilman Ken Jones (D-Ward 5). “The university is only there because the students allow it to be there.”

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place May 6 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set to begin that afternoon at 2 p.m., also in Council Chambers.

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