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Knight Study Explores What Connects Residents to Akron, Other Cities

a photo of Summit Lake
Summit Lake in Akron is the largest lake in the city, but was neglected until recently.

Before the pandemic, the city of Akron, like many Rust Belt cities, was taking a close look at ways to engage the community, and draw in new residents.

A new Knight Foundation study took a deep dive into 26 metro areas, including Akron, to learn what increases residents’ connection to the city and improves quality of life.

Knight’s Community Ties reportcould be a road map in a post pandemic world.

It allows cities to focus limited resources on key amenities close to home that matter most to residents. In Akron, 61 percent of respondents said recreational areas are important, with 91 percent saying they are easy to access.

However Knight Foundation’s Akron Director Kyle Kutuchief says it’s important to note accessibility drops to 78 percent for nonwhite residents.

“Part of that is driven by the quality of parks in the core of the city is not as good as the quality of the parks in the suburbs,” he said.

Kutuchief pointed to the Summit Lake neighborhood, which is one of the most impoverished in Akron.

“Largest lake in the city of Akron that has been neglected for decades,” he said. “Imagine if we made it an amazing public space for everybody especially the residents in the neighborhood.”

The reports captures feelings and behavior about the city; levels of investment in the city; and reasons people choose to stay.

Read the report or access an interactive website to explore the findings. 

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.