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In a program designed to support transformational investment and community engagement in public spaces, the City of Akron and Akron Parks Collaborative announcedthat Elizabeth Park and Park East will receive up to $100,000 each

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 06-17-2019

On Sat., June 15, the winners of Akron Parks Challenge were announced at the closing celebration of the inaugural Akron Parks Week, giving two City of Akron parks a grant of $100,000 each.


The second installment of the Akron Parks Challenge, launched on April 1, 2019, invited residents to pitch their vision for how to improve their favorite Akron park by collaborating with their neighborhood to support design, implementation, and upkeep.


The two winning parks for the 2019 Akron Parks Challenge are Elizabeth Park and Park East (Canal Park).


"Our project aims to design and create new amenities that represent and empower the members of our community,” shared local resident and Kent State University professor David Pereplyotchik in his application for Elizabeth Park.


In addition to defining a large, well-established neighborhood team and plans for ongoing maintenance, Pereplyotchik also listed goals of “attracting visitors to the park, creating a joyous atmosphere, and boldly signifying the community’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity” by adding park assets, updating existing structures, and infusing the park with community-created art.


“I am elated that we have so many individuals with a vision for Elizabeth Park,” Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples said. “To be able to receive such an award and to be able to watch it unfold is very exciting. I am certain the children and parents in Cascade Village and the surrounding North Akron community are going to be excited by the future of their neighborhood park”.


In Park East, nonprofit affordable housing developer Alpha Homes led the submission process. According to the written application championed by Thomas Fuller, the team wants to immerse the nearby residents in nature and attract neighbors to the park with areas for play and recreation that are well-lit, safe havens.


“Racism has historically limited movement of African-American residents to distant natural settings, even if they had the means to travel. Residents of low-income neighborhoods are also discouraged from utilizing nearby city parks due to legitimate safety concerns… These fears and concerns must be addressed and corrections devised to increase park usage and allow Canal Park to become the community resource it has the potential to become,” the team wrote in their application.


Submissions were reviewed by the Akron Parks Collaborative and a selection committee of its partners, including representatives from Akron City Council, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Akron Civic Commons, and Summit County Historical Society. Submissions were judged based on measures of feasibility, sustainability, equity, and impact on the neighborhood. 


“The Akron residents brought fantastic ideas to this year’s Park Challenge. The entire selection committee was thrilled by the levels of creativity and innovation but also by the thoughtful inclusivity and community cooperation we saw across applications,” explained Bridget Ambrisco, Executive Director of the Akron Parks Collaborative.


“Our City parks are places to foster connectedness, build wellbeing, and shape our community,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “We are proud that through the Akron Parks Challenge we can see those goals realized thanks to empowered citizens with innovative ideas who are ready to help meet the unique needs of their neighborhood.”


The City of Akron and the Akron Parks Collaborative will begin working with the two winning applicants to develop a plan for community engagement activities over the next several months—including public meetings, surveys, and discussion with neighborhood stakeholders.


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About Akron Parks Collaborative

Akron Parks Collaborative is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) 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.


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