By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer
Kent officials hope a little “green” from the state leads to a greener downtown Kent for residents.
The city’s Community Development department is currently working on a grant proposal seeking up to $25,000 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to promote “urban canopy restoration.”
City Council unanimously gave permission for Community Development Director Bridget Susel to apply for the grant at its last meeting.
Susel said any money the city receives through the Cuyahoga ReLeaf grant program will be used to enhance plans the city already has in place to plant greenery near downtown redevelopment projects.
“We can actually use (the funding) to replace tree canopy that’s been removed for economic development,” Susel said.
She said target areas for the grant funding would included Kent’s Central Business District, where the city has seen more than $108 million in building projects, and along Haymaker Parkway, which intersects with the park-like Esplanade walkway expansion currently under construction by the city and Kent State University over what previously was a section of Erie Street.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the grant program is open to local governments, school districts and other non-profit organizations in Cuyahoga County and the lower Cuyahoga River watershed.
ODNR has budgeted $150,000 for the program, which was created to fund planting, as well as urban tree canopy studies. Any planting must be done on public land or on property with a conservation easement preventing future tree removal.
According to the ODNR, the program is a solid investment because urban trees promote cleaner streams and rivers, stormwater management, economic development and recreational activities.
Susel said she believes the city has “a pretty good shot” at getting funded for the grant due to the downtown’s ongoing redevelopment and need for new trees. Applications for the grant are due by Nov. 30.
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