Ward 4 is home to Kent State University, apartments and residential areas

Unlike the other five wards in the city of Kent, ward four is mostly university-owned land, off-campus student housing and a few quiet neighborhoods. That doesn’t mean this ward hasn’t faced its share of issues throughout the years.


John Kuhar, the city council member representing the ward for the past 12 years, said he’s handled few issues specific to the ward.

John Kuhar, Ward 4 of Kent City Council. (Photo from City Council website.)

“Most of my work hasn’t really involved specifically ward four, as it does most of the city … Well, this would have been over the last 12 years,” he said. “We hear very few problems in this ward. There have been a few issues around the College Towers and sometimes noise complaints, but the loud parties have kind of come to a rest a little bit.”

Not much has changed within the ward throughout Kuhar’s tenure, with the exception of a few new apartment buildings and on-campus construction, most recently the completion of the Design Innovation Hub on the Kent State campus in 2020.

“Ward four is pretty laid back … I respond to all inquiries or complaints. In general, I do not hear much from the student population. Actually, most of the complaints or inquiries I get are from out of my ward and throughout the city,” he said.

Although Kuhar is not currently preoccupied with his constituents, he’s still busy working to improve the city of Kent. The city council is currently in the planning stages of building a city hall. 

“Well with the city hall, what we’ve done over a period of time is we’ve looked at different artists’ concepts. We’ve looked at the needs for the city hall to function, design and cost and tried to set parameters to go by, he said. When we started out looking at the first concept, it looked like it should be a prison or something. So we’ve enhanced it a little bit. Now, we have to go back to revise and cut costs.”

While Kuhar is focused on future developments in Kent, his constituents must not be ignored.

Kuhar said he resolved noise complaints from College Towers residents early in his tenure. But what about now? 

Built in 1968, College Towers is among the oldest apartment buildings in Kent. It is one of the most affordable off-campus housing options near the university. However, residents mentioned that budget-friendly rent comes with a number of drawbacks.

An outside view of the College Towers apartment building.

Upon entering the building, visitors are greeted with the smell of cigarette smoke. The walls and banisters have chipped paint and cracks running down them. 

Ben Patterson, 24, moved into College Towers because it was conveniently located between Akron and Cleveland. The low-cost of rent drove him to live in the building, as he is currently between jobs.

Patterson poses in the College Towers lobby.

“I see this place as temporary housing, which works for me because I’m trying to find a new job. I don’t have a personal connection to Kent, I went to the University of Akron. But I have friends here and it’s an easy commute to interviews in the area and it’s close to home,” he said.

However, Patterson is worried about the building’s slow elevators and believes the building’s parking lot could use construction.

“The roads could improve. When I enter or exit some parking lots I [damage] my car. It’s like a big drop,” he said.

Coucilman Kuhar commented on the state of the city’s roads. “The city has a timed road resurfacing schedule. Some of the roads get pretty bad before their scheduled time for resurfacing. Since there is limited funding for roads, like everything else, it makes it difficult. I would like to mention that the council recognizes this issue and in the recent past has increased the road funding significantly. Also, when we get grant money for major improvement projects to help out,” he said.

Another College Towers resident, Robert Ice, said living in his building is cheaper than a lot of other places in Kent but that there are negative aspects. 

He’s experienced issues with security, maintenance and management during his time living in the building.

When he makes a complaint, he said, “it takes them forever or they temporarily fix it and don’t fix it properly and then it [breaks again], he said.” Some of the residents won’t let strangers in and he said some are homeless and not supposed to be in the building. “It’s a security thing more than anything. Like I had that van sitting outside and somebody up above has been egging my van.”

Ice contacted management after the egging incident and never received a response. He purchased a security camera in order to view the parking lot from his balcony.

College Towers management declined to comment on the building’s maintenance and security measures.

Kuhar commented on the happenings at College Towers. “In my personal opinion, College Towers has never been great. In recent years it has actually improved.  I am sure they maintain it to [the health department’s] minimum standards. I would like to mention though that a few bad tenants can do a lot of damage,” he said.

Kent State sophomore Keisha Lustin is mostly satisfied with her experience living in University Edge, another off-campus apartment building not far from College Towers. Built in 2012, it’s one of the newer complexes in Kent.

She said she enjoys living off-campus and having her own space for the first time while attending Kent State and that she likes spending time in downtown Kent on weekends. 

But Lustin worries about safety in the complex. “We do have security that goes around at night sometimes, but it doesn’t stop people from attempting to break in or letting random people walk around the buildings,” she said. 

Lustin doesn’t like the on and off-campus food options. “I became a vegan over the summer and it’s hard for me to find food to eat if I’m not taking time to meal prep. I don’t know if it’s my health nut side coming out but it’s all fast food. Pulp and Tropical Smoothie, but you really have to be creative if you wanna try to eat healthy here. It’s really just a convenience issue for me,” she said.

On the opposite side of Summit Street FROM WHAT? is University Townhomes, where Kent State juniors Ty Caven and Jake Keaney have lived for the last 18 months. They like the quiet neighborhood but would like to see more amenities close by.

Junior Jake Keaney has lived in ward four for 18 months.

“More shops, and restaurants, they’re all on the other side of Kent,” Keaney said.

Like the residents of College Towers, Caven and Keaney both mentioned the roads when asked what worried them about Ward four. 

“If I had to say I was worried about anything I would say bad drivers and the roads, they need repaving and redone,” Keaney said.

Ward four includes two small neighborhoods on Glad Boulevard and Mae Street.

Mae Street resident Todric Koenig has lived in Kent for the past 20 years. He appreciates the quiet neighborhood and the city’s public services.

“The city has come a long way since 2001. Particularly with the strides they’ve made with PARTA and its sanitation efforts. My recycling and yard waste are picked up most days of the week and it makes my life easier. I’m seeing my tax dollars make positive changes in the community,” he said.

However, Koenig is wishes for less interference into his neighborhood from university construction.

“I’m all for expanding the community, but it seems like the university is working on a new project all the time. I just don’t want the construction to spread further towards Mae Street. It causes more traffic in a city where there’s already so many people commuting all the time,” he said.

Councilman Kuhar was unable to comment on the ward’s roads, construction and complaints from apartment residents.