Release Date: June 3,2021
Mayor Dan Horrigan and Akron Parks Collaborative Announce 2021 Akron Parks Challenge Winners
Akron, Ohio, June 3, 2021 — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Akron Parks Collaborative are thrilled to announce that the winners of the 2021 Akron Parks Challenge are Kerr Park in West Akron (Ward 4) and Jewett Park in Middlebury (Ward 10), each receiving a City of Akron parks grant of $100,000.
This third installment of the Akron Parks Challenge, which launched on April 1, 2021, invited residents to pitch their vision for how to improve their favorite Akron park by collaborating with their neighborhood to support design, implementation and upkeep.
"The Akron Parks Challenge allows us as City leaders to hear directly from our residents about what they want to see in their local parks," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "Having safe and accessible public spaces is so vital for the health of our neighborhoods, and I'm excited to see these two parks revitalized to meet the unique needs of their communities."
At Kerr Park, the goal of their grant is to attract more regular visitors to the park. In its application, the submitting team stated, “We believe this park is a key element to accomplishing success for the district, children, families and the community. This grant will help to build memories from gatherings, festivals and many other activities at the park.”
“West Akron has a new destination – and, it’s called Kerr Park!” shared E.J. Brinson of the Summit County Think Tank Coalition. “This park will be a gathering place to build memories for residents, an inclusive meeting place for the community and an anchor for the business district. This is amazing. Kerr Park has not seen this type of support since the Maple Valley Garden Club partnered with the City 50+ years ago.”
In Jewett Park of Middlebury, the organizers hope to increase use by creating a safe, approachable and beautified property that has ease of accessibility for all of its neighbors. Its application was filled with details to make the park accessible with lighting upgrades, pavilions with picnic tables, permanent games, adult swings and benches. It also includes cleaning up the space and planting trees.
"We couldn't be happier to receive the 2021 Akron Parks Challenge Award,” said Pastor Yolanda Parker, executive director of LINKS Community & Family Services. “This is an amazing and exciting opportunity to improve Jewett Park and create a family-friendly recreation area that will not only be enjoyed by our Middlebury residents but also will add value to the community as a whole. Our neighborhood park has needed more financial investment than we've been able to provide the past few years, but with this grant, we can now see our dream become a reality.”
Submissions were reviewed by the Akron Parks Collaborative board and were judged based on measures of feasibility, sustainability, equity and neighborhood impact.
"We were incredibly impressed by the ideas Akron residents brought to this year's Parks Challenge,” stated Bridget Ambrisco, executive director of Akron Parks Collaborative. “It was the hardest year yet to choose only two parks. Our board and reviewers were impressed by the levels of enthusiasm and engagement and by the thoughtful inclusivity and community cooperation we saw across applications.”
The City of Akron and Akron Parks Collaborative will begin working with the two winning applicants to develop a plan for community engagement activities over the next several months—including public meetings, events, surveys and discussion with neighborhood stakeholders.
For more information on the Akron Parks Challenge, please visit akronparks.org.