Residents Cast Votes to Reimagine Summit Lake

Updated: Feb 16, 2018

By Katie Hickman

On Saturday, January 27, Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, Summit Metro Parks and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coaltion welcomed Kenmore residents’ ideas for making Summit Lake a place of pride and play.

Reimagining the Civic Commons is a national initiative in which the five cities of Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Memphis and Akron were chosen as a platform for the development of civic commons areas. By creating and improving upon public spaces for communities to gather, the lines of racial, educational, and economic segregation begin to blur, and cities have opportunities to unite like never before.

In Akron, Reimagining the Civic Commons is in the thick of year two, with it’s current focus being Summit Lake. What used to be a lively and booming “million-dollar playground” has slowly declined at the hands of industrial pollution.The goal is to invest in this full-of-potential area so the surrounding community can enjoy shared prosperity as well as continued revitalization, which is already beginning on Kenmore Boulevard.

With coffee in hand, the diverse group of heart-of-Kenmore meeting attendees set out to narrow down what restoration would look like at Summit Lake. Based off of feedback from the previous meeting in December, ideas were listed into four main categories: Infrastructure, Economic, Programs, and Safety/Beautification.

Although it was not a definitive vote, each attendee expressed their voice with red and green stickers, both representing how important an option was for them. To these residents, whom many call Summit Lake their front or back yard, it was clear that neighborhood isn’t just a place to live, it’s part of them. To see the future of vast possiblies in their beloved community created an aura of excitement felt strongly felt within the Kenmore Community Center.

The “straw vote” resulted in clear favorites throughout each category:

Top Infrastructure results: seating areas, tables, shelters, and grills available near the lake, biking and hiking trail around the lake, boat ramp access/dock on the lake, a walking connection between 6th St. S.W. to Manchester Rd., and a Kenmore way station with kiosks.

Top Economic results: places to get food and/or coffee, bike rental depot, boat rentals, history museum, bait & tackle shop, and a trail level bridge to connect both sides of the lake.

Top program and event results: watercraft show, fishing tournament, 5k around the lake, weekend farmer’s market, hiking spree stop, and fireworks.

Top Safety/Beautification results: clean up shoreline, scenic trail encircling Summit Lake, artwork along Summit Lake Rd., lighting, fountains, park setting with trees in the field, and to demolish/clean up empty buildings near highway.

The event came as residents await the results of EPA study commissioned of the 100-acre lake by the Trust for Public Land and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Results are due in the coming months, although according to Dan Rice, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition’s executive, the initial findings have been “better than expected.” The report will be the first comprehensive look at Summit Lake’s environmental issues in 40 years, according to project supporters.

As the prepping stages of Reimagining Summit Lake continue, a steering committee of neighborhood residents will be assembled to further prioritize the proposed ideas and narrow them down. For more information about the effort or joining the steering committee, contact Tina Boyes, executive director of Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, at

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