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Akron's Innerbelt Transformation Will Take Time, Money and a Lot of Dirt

Meyer Sommerville Kutuchief Segedy Powell

With the help of the Huffington Post’s 25-city listening tour, Akron took a closer look last night at tentative plans to turn a divided highway into something that would, as the mayor’s senior advisor Marco Sommerville put it, “make Akron a destination.” WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on planning the Innerbelt’s future.

The four panelists told about 75 people at the Akron Art Museum last night that they anticipate the now-closed stretch of the Innerbelt may eventually include housing to replace some of the neighborhoods the highway tore up 40 years ago. Planning Director Jason Segedy said the project may also be the first of a series that would open up the island of downtown Akron.

“The part that Marco was talking about over near Wooster Avenue at that time, that was really ground zero for where the displacement and a lot of the inequities happened. And one of my hopes is that over time we can consider closing more of the innerbelt and working south.”

He acknowledged that’s only an idea for now. And the panelists indicated even the first phase is likely to be incremental, with pocket forests built in two spots and a lot of topsoil covering the concrete highway until money can be found to tear it up. 

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is heading to an invitation-only meeting this week with the Mayors’ Institute on City Design to get ideas on what to do with the now-closed 32 acres of downtown that was the northern stretch of the innerbelt highway 

Listen to the full discussion

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.