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Akron, Ohio

City Announces Partnership with Friends of the Metro Parks to Create Collaborative Group Focused on Improving City Parks

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New Akron Parks Collaborative kicks off Akron Parks Challenge to spark community involvement in public spaces.

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 04-09-2018

 

Today, the City of Akron Office of Integrated Development announced a partnership with Friends of the Metro Parks to create the Akron Parks Collaborative. The mission of the Collaborative is to engage the community in creating a sustainable model of maintaining Akron parks that are clean, inviting and engaging public spaces.

Working with the City, the Akron Parks Collaborative will engage neighborhood residents and stakeholders to create and grow "friends groups" around each city park. Park friends groups are community-led organizations that will work with the city to help guide, support and steward city parks. This approach to city park revitalization has been deployed in many other cities across the country, most notably Philadelphia and New York City.

"Through Akron Civic Commons, we’ve learned that public space can serve as the connective tissue in a neighborhood, helping us build a stronger sense of community," Mayor Horrigan said. "As I remarked in my State of the City address this year, we must seek partners to expand our capacity in neighborhood development. Working with the Akron Parks Collaborative, my hope is to better support resident-led improvements to our city parks."

In order to best manage the vast amount of park land within the City, the Department of Planning and Urban Development recently completed the first comprehensive study of city parks, available here. The City of Akron currently contains 161 parks, totaling 3,804 acres – including the Summit Metro Parks. Akron boasts a Level of Service (LOS) of 19.1 acres of park land per 1,000 residents, which is more than twice the national average of 9.5 acres.

"Parks can be great neighborhood gathering places and community assets when designed with and for the residents who use them," said Bridget Ambrisco, project manager of the Akron Parks Collaborative. "The Akron Parks Collaborative will work to foster neighborhood friends groups for each park to connect them to resources and funding and to ensure vibrant public spaces for generations to come."

The City also launched the first-ever Akron Parks Challenge in partnership with the newly formed Akron Parks Collaborative, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Akron Civic Commons. The Akron Parks Challenge invites neighborhood leaders and organizations alike to pitch their vision for their favorite park and how they can partner to achieve the change they wish to see. Two parks will ultimately be selected in 2018 to work with the partners to engage residents in creating an improvement plan. Through the City’s 2018 capital budget, these plans will receive up to $100,000 in funding to support implementation.

First round submissions, which require only a brief synopsis of the project—including the park name and stated goal—can be made through the Akron Civic Commons website, available here. The deadline for first round submissions is April 30, 2018. Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee, including representatives from Akron City Council, the Akron Parks Collaborative, the Knight Foundation, and Akron Civic Commons. The successful applicants will be announced on or before June 1st, 2018.

"Since our founding, city leaders have viewed park land as vital to the wellbeing of our residents," said James Hardy, Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development. "The Akron Parks Challenge attempts to spark renewed investment in public space by inviting citizens to co-design their parks. Our goal is to expand the Akron Parks Challenge in future years and improve all our neighborhoods one park at a time."

"We are proud to partner with the City of Akron as we reimagine City of Akron parks and public spaces," added Dan Rice, President and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. "Working in collaboration with our neighbors, Akron Parks Challenge has the ability to activate great civic commons spaces, in turn creating a city for all people."

About Akron Parks Collaborative

Akron Parks Collaborative is an organization working to engage the community around the creation and sustainability of vibrant public spaces within City of Akron parks. As a spin-off organization of Friends of Metro Parks, we also foster and support friends groups around single city parks.

About Friends of the Metro Parks

Friends of Metro Parks is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a dedicated, collective champion for the parks and public resources of Summit Metro Parks. We do this by serving as a common voice of our members and the community advocating for the best interests of the parks and by supporting outreach programming designed to foster park stewards.

About Akron Civic Commons

Akron Civic Commons seeks to connect three economically and socially diverse neighborhoods – Downtown, Park East and Summit Lake – through increased relationship building and activation of civic assets. Akron Civic Commons is funded by GAR Foundation, The JPB Foundation, Knight Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation.

For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary / Assistant Director of Law
166 S. High Street Akron, Ohio 44308
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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