(Courtesy of the city of Akron)
Experience ‘Open Streets’ in Akron on Sunday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
During the Open Streets event, Akron will close the 2.8 mile route on Main Street to cars from Bartges Street to Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, and open the street to the community, so Akron residents can explore their neighborhoods in a new way.
Residents and visitors are encouraged to bike, walk, jog, or skate their way around the community in a safe, fun, and healthy way. Open Streets is family and pet friendly, and free for everyone.
The Open Streets concept originated in Bogota, Columbia, with Open Streets events from Guadalajara to New York.
“It is through our international and stateside travels that we experienced different Open Street events,” noted Council President Garry Moneypenny. “These Open Streets events got people out of their homes, put their feet on the pavement, and had them exploring their community and enjoying businesses, sites and areas they would not typically seek out. In these countries and cities, Open Streets proved to be an excellent way for citizens to re-engage in their community in a fun and different way. I am really excited for this event and I can’t wait to walk across the Y-bridge with fellow walkers, bikers, skaters, and runners and take in the City from this unique perspective.”
Also occurring that weekend and ending on Open Streets Day (Friday, May 15 through Sunday, May 17), is the Better Block event. Better Block is a temporary makeover for a block, a kind of “flash-mob” of urban planning, designed to give a physical form to a neighborhood’s best visions and hopes for what a block can be with community interest and effort. The North Hill Better Block will include pop-up restaurants, stores, a farmer’s market, art and more, and will engage the north end of the Open Streets footprint.
“Better Blocks has really got the community buzzing,” said Akron City Ward 2 Councilman Jim Hurley. “Residents in the North Hill area, along with citizens from around the city have signed up to help build the Better Block, and volunteer throughout the weekend to make it a success. Showing residents what can be accomplished in a neighborhood by simply re-developing and re-energizing one city block is what Better Blocks is about. Hopefully, the ‘pop-up block’ will become the impetus for a more permanent revitalization of that block and others throughout the city.”
Along the Open Street and Better Block routes, there will be different activity stations, including a basketball tournament for 8 to 13 year olds, Touch-A-Truck, a disc golf tournament starting at
Lock 3, putt-putt holes along the route, 30 minute yoga classes (at the top of every hour), zumba, food truck round up, tennis at Water’s Park, young children stations (giant bubbles, jump ropes, hula hoops, and youth group demonstrations), chalk drawing with Miller South School, Akron Zoo mobile, One
of a Kind Pets, and much more. Live entertainment will be scheduled throughout the day.
Businesses are encouraged to be open and participate by hosting a family-friendly activity, to encourage patrons to visit. There will be free bike rental available, and METRO will have a fare-free day. The trolley will be doing loops so people can ride the trolley if needed.
Open Streets is sponsored by the City of Akron and Downtown Akron Partnership, along with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that invested $50,000 to support the project.
“In order to build a more successful Akron we need to create opportunities for residents to connect with each other and get involved in shaping their community,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation’s Program Director for Akron. “This event will help foster collaboration and unite residents with the city businesses and the government— we look forward to celebrating Akron and creating a culture of engagement together.”
It was Moneypenny who approached the Knight Foundation about this distinctive community project. “Our young professionals have been telling us they want more ‘place making events,’” said Moneypenny. “These events, Open Streets and Better Blocks, are exactly the types of events they were talking about.”