River Bend Park: A Closer Look
Will 12 parking spaces have a big effect on the neighborhood?
Let's take a closer look at the canoe and kayak access park the Kent Parks and Recreation Department is planning for the River Bend neighborhood.
The parks department bought the 6-acre site adjacent to the River Bend Boulevard bridge over the Cuyahoga River in the 1990s. In recent years, several plans were proposed that included as many as 30 parking spaces, restrooms, a picnic shelter and a dock.
Today, those plans have been scaled back after hearing concerns from residents that the parks plan was too aggressive. Now, the parks department is pitching a 12-space parking lot with low lighting and no additional features other than a path down to the river with a slope for water access.
The parks department bought the land as part of long-term recreation planning, which calls for greater access to the river.
The parking lot would have low-level pedestal lighting to try and limit it from shining on adjacent properties. The parking itself would be constructed from porous "stonecrete" material to absorb rain water and prevent stormwater from running off into the river and other properties.
The parks department has $250,000 in grant funds to build the lot and water access ramp from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. But those funds can't be released until the plan is approved by the state, and the parks department is awaiting approval from Kent's local planning boards before taking it to the state level. So far, the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals gave the site the OK, but it still needs approval from the Kent Planning Commission, which will hear the case Tuesday night.
The plan seems simple enough, but the question is whether 12 parking spaces, lighting and a designated public access point to the river will affect adjacent property owners.
Jim and Diana Sumner believe the added parking will be a detriment to their property, which is directly across the river from the existing park. Among their concerns are a negative effect on their property value, noise and litter.
Supporters of the plan believe those concerns are unfounded. And they may very well be.
Really, there are two questions here; if public river access trump's a private property owner's rights, and whether the needs of the many outweight the needs of the few.
Based on state and local action so far, the answer seems to support the parks department's plans.