New Akron Mayor Looks Ahead, Eager to Start
It’s been 28 years since a newly elected mayor of Akron took office. That was Don Plusquellic who resigned last summer. Today (Mon) begins the first week of work at city hall for Dan Horrigan, who once served on Akron City Council, and spent the last 6 years as Summit County Clerk of Courts. Horrigan sat down with ideastream’s Mark Urycki and talked about his plans for the city.
A lot of mayors want to add bike lanes to their cities, but Dan Horrigan, and avid cyclist, may well ride to work on one.
But before he gets to that, Horrigan has two huge projects to deal with. First is a $1.4 billion dollar rebuild of the city’s sewer system to prevent any untreated sewage from flowing into the Cuyahoga River.
"Probably the largest construction project the city has ever undergone.”
It requires two large tunnels to capture waste water during rain storms. The first one, getting started now, will be more than a mile long and be drilled right under downtown Akron. Mayor Horrigan is hoping the city can negotiate with the U-S EPA to stretch out the project deadline.
The terms and the conditions always seemed like they could be amendable.. to see if we could get a longer stretch, like a longer mortgage… but noncompliance is not an issue.”
Breaking up the Concrete"
Making the Rt 59 closed-access highway, the Innerbelt, into a boulevard. It could make dozens of acres of land available for development.
“Available land, especially that close, is probably a rarity in a lot of these urban cities like we have. So when you can take advantage of that but still keep the Amenities you need like access in both ways, it also opens up that area to housing, a park, some sort of water attraction.”
Bio Medical Corridor?
The city invested some money in the Austin BioInnovation Lab downtown with the goal of building a bio-medical corridor around the university and down town Akron,. Do you still see that happening?
“Absolutely , especially with the high level of health care we have in our region the 3 preeminent hospitals along with a medical school. That land close to the Innerbelt may be able to help in being able to grow some of those too.”
“There’s a very strong demand for housing downtown. People want to live here and I think there are some projects out there that people want to get going with pretty quickly . But there also needs to be a plan as to where all this housing is going to go and it can’t be a grocery dessert. . . There has to be the services down here to be able to support that too.”
Public transportation, light rail?
Whether it’s rail or not or whether it’s improved bus or how we get around our community a little bit better. But it also means incorporating bike lanes into our streets, service pinching the streets more, some on street parking. There’s a lot of ideas to be able to move towards that in a more sustainable fashion with public transportation an obvious goal.”
The new Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan adds that one of the city’s best selling-points for attracting businesses, is its water supply and infrastructure.