The Gambier Village Council met Monday night to discuss projects to improve the Village’s infrastructure, and bring Gambier residents and the Kenyon community closer together.
To begin, a Gambier resident presented a petition signed by 40 homeowners who are upset that many members of Kenyon’s fraternities have been parking their cars in residential zones near the fraternity buildings. The homeowners also expressed concern about the fraternities’ failure to maintain the appearance of their properties and requested that the Council address possible solutions to the issues. The Council concluded that with the end of the school year approaching, it would be best to determine new rules and guidelines this summer that could be applied for the upcoming school year.
The presidents of Kenyon Sin Fronteras, a student organization that seeks to raise awareness about issues at the U.S.-Mexico border, also attended the meeting to present their idea to install a mural somewhere in the village. Extra funding from Student Council’s Business and Finance Committee (BFC) funds from the 2020-21 academic year made it possible for Student Council to approve a request for $10,000 to hire an artist to complete the mural.
The students suggested the post office, the side of the Village Market or the area between the two buildings as potential places to paint the mural. The Council expressed interest in the idea of painting it in the space between the post office and the Market, and discussed the possibility of also creating a garden to accompany it.
The students behind this project envision a mural that explores the border and the struggles migrants face in their efforts to reach the United States. “[The artist’s focus is on] bringing awareness to immigration policies and in these communities, where we’re not as close to the border, we don’t think about it that much, but we still have a presence here,” one of the Sin Fronteras co-presidents said. The students hope that the mural helps immigrant Kenyon and Gambier community members feel more welcomed and acknowledged, and reminds the non-immigrant Kenyon and Village communities of the challenges at the border.
The Council also discussed the confusion the current parking availibility on Gaskin Avenue creates and their efforts to develop a plan to improve its convenience and accessibility. Council members conducted an informal poll of students and community members in which they asked what Gaskin Avenue should look like in the future. Eighteen respondents voted in favor of adding parallel parking to the west side of the street and angle parking on the other side, and 23 respondents, mostly students, expressed support for the addition of bike lanes in the future plans. There is no official timeline for changing the layout of the street, although more discussion will take place at Gambier’s Streets and Utilities committee meeting on May 26.
In light of the celebration of 43022 Day this past weekend, much of which occurred on Gaskin Avenue, the Council took a moment to acknowledge the work done by the Library and Programming Committee to ensure that the event was a success. The Council also acknowledged that the College’s fundraising numbers were particularly impressive. “[It was] a fantastic event,” Gambier Mayor Leeman Kessler ’04 said.
Looking forward, Gambier’s Buildings and Grounds Committee is planning the development of a natural playscape for the Village community. The Council authorized R.C. Wise, Gambier’s Village Administrator, to request $10,000 from the Strategic Plan fund to pay for designs. The Council also discussed plans to install a disc golf course on Village and Kenyon property. Kenyon’s Department of Athletics is enthusiastic about this project and has expressed interest in working with the Council to pursue it.
The Council also approved and authorized a number of contracts, orders and resolutions. The Council’s most significant action was its approval of a $215,000 contract to place 94 ground-mounted solar panels at the Village of Gambier Wastewater Treatment Plant to supplement its energy costs. Most of the cost will be covered by its American Rescue Plan funds, as well as some of the Village’s own capital funds.