New City Hall and New Action Underway: Kent City Council Meeting

Words by: Sierra Allen, and Julie Riedel

The city of Kent held its council meeting April 18, to address new concerns and legislations discussed two weeks ago. Before the official meeting, a work session took place where updates on the new city hall were given.

In collaboration with Brandstetter Carroll Incorporated, a longstanding architecture firm, Kent is working towards a new city hall after spending over 30 years without one. Nancy Nozik is the architect assigned to the project. It was proposed three years ago, but real designs were pitched last summer, according to Melanie Baker, service director at the city of Kent.

As the service director, Baker is responsible for keeping the Nozik on track, constructing drawings, bidding and building the hall. Council members are working towards a well-designed building that is useful to the city and fits the aesthetic of Kent.

“I don’t want to see us building a Taj Mahal, but I want us to build a very functional building that is welcoming to the community, has a tip of the hat to the things that are important to the residents of the city of Kent,” said Roger Sidoti, council-at-large. “I would like it to fit into, as we were talking about, the streetscape concept, but I think it has to be a distinctive building. I think it has to be a building that everyone in the city recognizes, that’s our city hall. And we need to be able to do that without breaking the bank.”

According Sidoti, the hopes are to be in the new city hall building by the end of 2020. They have
just begun the process and the majority of the work session was spent with Baker as she discussed the city halls in Solon, North Royalton, Richfield Village and Wadsworth for inspiration.

Sidoti reported estimates for the city hall will be between 2.8 million and 5.5 million dollars.

“My personal commitment is we’re not going to have any new taxes to do this. We’re going to find a way of doing this, whether it’s borrowing the money over a long term, to tighten our belts a little bit without cutting services, finding money in other places,” said Sidoti. “Our community has been so good to us, building the new police station, supporting our schools, doing all those things that are really important to us. I don’t want to do that to the taxpayers.”

Along with Sidoti and other council members, Baker is excited and is ensuring that the hall earns the approval of the community.

“It’s at its earliest phases and we will be coming publically to both the residents of the city. I’m hoping to do it while students are still in because I think that this building needs to reflect everyone and that has always been a push of the council as well,” she said. “It needs to be the citizens’ building. It is their town hall, their place, their space.”
Following the work session, the focus transitioned to the regular meeting, where prior approvals on resolutions were officially passed.

“Tonight’s meeting is a regular meeting whereby we pass all the legislation that was discussed in Council committee meetings two weeks ago,” said Tara Grimm, clerk of council.

Some of the topics discussed included Standing Rock Cemetery Meeting Minutes and April’s agendas for the Planning Commission and Sustainability Commission.

While meeting, it’s not uncommon for council members to propose new actions and Gwen Rosenberg, council-at-large, motioned a drafted resolution for the safety of city schools, an idea explained in a letter that was sent to Congressman Tim Ryan.

“Obviously school safety is tremendously important. Not just in community, but communities all around the country,” Rosenberg said. “The motion that I made tonight was basically based on a school safety meeting that I’d gone to. Our police and fire department are already working in tremendously meaningful ways, so what I wanted was a resolution drafted that publically shares our commitment to the safety of our young people.”

The City Council is responsible for governing the city and composed of nine members, three of which are elected at-large and six who are elected to represent different Wards in Kent. Meetings are held monthly at the Main Fire Station at 320 S. Depeyster Street and are open to all citizens who are concerned and involved in the community. More information can be found at http://www.kentohio.org/.