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BY RACHEL DOVEY

In Akron, Ohio, investment in the civic commons sparks a dialogue about social equity.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Summit Lake in Akron, Ohio, is a glacial landmark shaped like a lopsided figure eight. It sits along a continental divide, so its waters flow both north toward Lake Erie and south toward the Mississippi River. “Not many cities have this kind of asset,” says Kyle Lukes, ASLA, a senior landscape architect with Environmental Design Group in Akron.

The residents who live next to the lake haven’t always seen it that way, though. In 2016, Akron was one of five cities chosen for Reimagining the Civic Commons, a $40 million effort with backing from the Knight and Kresge Foundations, among others, to counter trends of economic segregation, social isolation, and distrust through creative reuses of public space. Akron’s proposal included the lake and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which winds along the shore and follows a canal north. But when Lukes and a group of landscape architects and park staff broached the idea of remaking the waterfront for residents, they instead heard requests to fence off the shoreline. (more…)

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