Knight Foundation Awards 2 Akron Projects

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By Elizabeth Miller

Two Akron residents received a combined $190,000 Tuesday as part of this year’s Knight Cities Challenge.  The announcement comes from the Knight Foundation, which started in Akron in 1950.  

Now in its 2nd year, the foundation’s Knight Cities Challenge accepts ideas to make cities more successful from individuals in the 26 towns where the Knight Brothers owned newspapers.  37 recipients will share $5 million in funding.  The two Akron winners are Jonathan Morschl and Brian & Tracy Davis. 

Morschl’s project will repurpose a mile of Akron’s Innerbelt freeway, which is set to be closed by 2018.  The idea is to build a mountain bike park featuring man-made hills, mounds, and trails. The Knight Foundation’s Akron program director Kyle Kutuchief says Morschl’s project is a creative answer to a problem that’s not unique to cities like Akron.

"Cities across the country are dealing with this question: what do we do with the overbuilt infrastructure in our city?" said Kutuchief.

Morschl has not received official approval to begin the project, but says he will use his $120,000 prize over the next year and a half meeting with community members and city leaders to plan the park.  He says he's received a letter of support from newly elected Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, in addition to other words of support.

“The community support was instant," said Morschl.

"It really gave me a lot of encouragement to make it a real project.”

Brian Davis is the other Challenge recipient.  His project aims to connect visitors with Cuyahoga Valley National Park through baggage transport services and other amenities.

Program director Kyle Kutuchief says the project offers a learning opportunity for those unfamiliar with one of Northeast Ohio’s National Parks.

"Those of us who lived in the region for a long time think of how many people we’ve met who’ve never been – or who don’t know the national park the way they should," said Kutuchief.

The Foundation awarded Davis $70,000.  Kutuchief says most projects are set to be completed within 18 months.  

ideastream receives funding from the Knight Foundation.

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