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Akron, Ohio

Mayor Horrigan Issues Request for Proposals for Conservation of Theiss Road Property

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Akronís distinguished history of conservation and restoration have already resulted in significant environmental benefits across the city and the region

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 12-04-2020

Akron, Ohio, Dec. 4, 2020—Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan’s Office of Integrated Development is soliciting proposals for the acquisition of nearly 45 acres of land in the Merriman Valley neighborhood for conservation purposes. The site is bordered by Theiss Road to the north and the west, Northampton Road to the east, and Hardy Road to the south.

In August of this year, the City issued a request for proposals (RFP) for residential development of this site.  The residential development RFP required that of the 45 acres available, at least 13.5 acres be maintained as open space. Those proposals are still being actively considered.

Mayor Horrigan has now determined to seek full conservation as an alternative option in order to determine the best use for the land. Once responsive conservation proposals are received and reviewed, they will be compared with the submitted residential development plans, and the strongest proposal will be selected for presentation to the City Planning Commission and Akron City Council.

“As civic leaders, we take a comprehensive approach to planning and land use issues across our city,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “When considering development options, this requires us to weigh various considerations including market demand, neighborhood needs, and impacts on the environment, the economy, traffic, and the community at large.  That is exactly what we have done, and will continue to do, as we pursue the future of the Merriman Valley.  For the Theiss Road property we will closely consider both options—total conservation and thoughtful residential development.  Through this open and deliberative process, I am confident that we will arrive at the best and highest use for this site.” 

Under the conservation RFP, the prospective purchaser must propose conservation of the site for a minimum of 30 years.  A conservation purchaser will have an opportunity to create open space within the site to enhance natural areas that protect plants and wildlife. Related development projects will also be permitted, including constructing facilities that make the site suitable for recreational activities and programming.

The Theiss Road property appears to have been former farmland from approximately 1937-1970.  With the exception of the southeast corner, the site has not been a forest for at least 90 years, and much of the site is now occupied by invasive plant species.

The consideration of this conservation RFP follows a long and distinguished history of conservation efforts in Akron, and the Merriman Valley in particular.

Importantly, in 2020, the City provided 85 acres adjacent to the Theiss Road property to West Creek Conservancy for permanent conservation purposes. This property has a dense tree canopy and includes Woodward Creek, a stream tributary to the Cuyahoga River. With its severe slopes, Akron’s decision to protect this property resulted in significant environmental benefits to the Cuyahoga River.

“The Akron community should be incredibly proud of its environmental compliance and the comeback of the Cuyahoga River,” Mayor Horrigan said. “Any allegation that we don’t celebrate and protect our local environment is simply misinformed.  The dedicated professionals of both the Office of Integrated Development and the Department of Public Service take their commitment to our environment very seriously. The City of Akron is spending over one billion dollars to restore the Cuyahoga River, incorporating green technologies and stream restorations. We continue to win numerous prestigious awards for excellence in watershed protection and environmental stewardship.”

Just this year, Akron received the Ohio EPA Encouraging Environmental Excellence Gold Level Award and Mayor Horrigan was awarded the Ohio Water Environmental Association Elected Officials Award for “demonstrating a significant commitment to the protection and improvement” of the environment. A few additional examples of Akron’s demonstrated commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship are provided below:

  • The City owns 33% of river frontage in the Upper Cuyahoga River Watershed, and is the largest single owner of property in the protected section. The City’s work protects the water quality of the river, and provides considerable legitimacy to the Upper Cuyahoga’s state scenic river designation status.
  • The City of Akron protects over 19,000 acres of land in the Upper Cuyahoga River Watershed and Mogadore Reservoir, including open water, wetlands, tributaries, forests, and the Cuyahoga River.
  • Akron Watershed properties provide large areas of recreational opportunities for NE Ohio through an agreement with the ODNR. This much contiguous land is only available because the City of Akron purchased and protected it. This totals 11,422 acres of publically available recreational lands in the Upper Cuyahoga only available because of Akron’s stewardship.
  • Akron has actively pursued “greener” alternatives for its federal consent decree projects and continues to seek the most environmentally-impactful projects in negotiations with the state and federal EPAs, to address the most pressing public health and environmental protection issues first.
  • The result of the City’s overhaul of its combined sewer system is cleaner waterways—restored to a level not seen in six generations. The project is producing the greatest environmental improvements since the first Europeans moved to the east side of the Portage Path in 1805 and began polluting the waterways. 
  •  As the conditions of Akron's waterways continue to improve, we are seeing the return of wildlife not seen in the area for some time. The most noticeable example of this is the resurgence of the Great Blue Heron along the Cuyahoga River.
  • The City of Akron continues to be an active member of the Gorge Dam removal stakeholders group working to “free the falls”. Akron was recently awarded a grant from US EPA to design the removal of the dam.  

The Office of Integrated Development will review and evaluate the responses to Theiss Road conservation RFP. All proposals must be submitted by 3pm on March 31, 2021.  Questions about this RFP should be directed to Development Manager, Abraham L. Wescott, Jr. at [email protected] or (330) 375-2133.

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