Kent City Council will re-examine the loan it gave to the group trying to save the historic Kent Wells Sherman House from demolition in the wake of a protracted legal fight over the house's planned move to a lot on North Water Street.
Council voted last July to give an unsecured $15,000 loan to Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. with no interest due over the 10-year repayment period.
Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. formed in 2011 to find a new location for the Greek revival-style house built for Frances Kent Wells, sister of city namesake Marvin Kent.
The group is planning to move the house to a vacant lot at 247 N. Water St. that neighboring Standing Rock Cultural Arts has used as a garden for 20 years. A group called "Save the Standing Rock Garden" has sued to stop the move, claiming two Kent boards violated the city's charter during meetings when the house's relocation was approved.
The administrative appeal has been slogging its way through the court system since November.
Last week, Councilman Roger Sidoti added a new wrinkle to the saga by suggesting Council's Finance Committee take up the loan issue again by "developing the promisory note of when we're going to release the money and setting the time of when they can begin the repayment."
He said, with the ongoing court battle in mind, the city could update the terms of the loan to make them better for the public and the non-profit preservation group.
"I think in fairness ... on the one hand we want to protect the taxpayers' investment on this issue," Sidoti said. "On the other hand, we want to be fair to the organization and give them time to establish and begin to get some income."
Kent State and Willow Street
Kent State University officials seeking comments from Kent City Council last week about the proposed $40 million architecture building that will be located between campus and downtown heard a few concerns about South Willow Street from council members.
University officials have floated the idea of the city closing and vacating South Willow between Main Street and College Avenue to keep automobile traffic away from the multi-million dollar Esplanade walkway expansion, where the architecture building will be located.
Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer, who has previously stated her opposition to closing the street, asked Michael Bruder, KSU's director of facilities, planning and design, if the university wanted the street vacated and closed by the city.
Bruder said the university's administration would not make a decision on whether it wanted to close the street until it can review the results of a traffic study of the area it requested the city conduct.
"We're playing it conservative for now," he said.
Councilman Garret Ferrara said closing the street might make the area safer and more pedestrian friendly.
"It would, in my opinion, isolate the area more," he said.
Councilman Wayne Wilson said closing Lincoln Street, which the Esplanade will also cross, would also make the area more pedestrian friendly, but that does not mean the city should.
The city has already vacated a portion of one street, the now non-existent portion of Erie Street between Haymaker Parkway and Willow Street, to aid the Esplanade project.
The reporters at the Record-Courier list our e-mail addresses and phone numbers at the end of our stories so the public can reach us with additional information or questions.
I generally enjoy hearing your complaints and suggestions, but just a reminder -- I don't have much influence compared to your local representatives on Kent City Council or the Board of Education.
If you really want to make your voice heard, visit http://kentohio.org/gov2/council.asp and find your council member's contact information and tell them what you think about the Kent Wells Sherman House loan, the potential closure of Willow Street or any number of city issues.
Tell 'em Thomas sent you.