About 30 people gathered in the Community Foundation Theater in Gund Gallery on Tuesday evening for a Town Hall meeting to review plans for the third phase of the Middle Path restoration. Phase III consists of the portion of Middle Path north of the Gates of Hell and south of Brooklyn Street.
Mark Kohlman, chief business officer, led the meeting.
Kohlman discussed plans to make Middle Path more accessible, correct flooding issues at the artery paths just north of the Gates of Hell and add garden plots and seating nooks along the Path. The College also plans to add more vendor-friendly spaces to the areas of the path where vendors tend to sell goods, so food trucks may more easily park there.
The section of Scott Lane between Gaskin Avenue and Chase Avenue — in between the Kenyon Bookstore and post office — is slated to become a terrace. The change will result in the loss of four parking spots. The College conducted a pair of traffic studies in October to count the number of cars that used the turnaround and drove on Gaskin and Chase Avenues per day.
Gambier residents voiced concerns that the two portions of the traffic study were not held concurrently, and that traffic through the turnaround was measured over fall break, a time of decreased traffic through the Village. The plan to close the turnaround drew some opposition during the forum.
One audience member reiterated several times that closing this portion of the road was a bad idea and called its elimination a “very student-centric design.”
Another audience member, who identified herself as a Village resident not associated with Kenyon, said in response that she viewed the addition of the terrace as an improvement.
Village Council will have no say over the plans if the Planning and Zoning Commission approves them, according to Liz Forman ’73, a Village Council member and former College administrator. The commission has to approve changes to Middle Path, which is owned by the College.
Kohlman said the cut-through is not an approved easement for the road and is not on any map, Village ordinance or easement documents showing a road there. Forman said she thought there were no easement documents for any road in downtown Gambier, but Kohlman said there were for Gaskin and Chase Avenues. Forman said Tom Stamp, College historian, and Gambier mayor-elect Kachen Kimmell told her this information, which led to a disagreement between Forman and Kimmell. Kimmell claimed she had been misquoted.
Other audience members were concerned with trees being cut down and what species of trees would be replanted.
Kohlman did not indicate there would be any follow-up meetings at the end of the forum.