BARBERTON: In keeping with the city’s efforts to turn downtown into an arts and entertainment district, sidewalks will slowly be converted into a Hollywood-style Walk of Fame.
Instead of brass stars like the famed walk that celebrates entertainers, Barberton’s marble inlays will feature the top hat and cane often used to identify the Magic City, and engraved with the names of homegrown inventors, sculptors, authors, CEOs, athletes and others.
“Barberton has always been a big athletic town and has a history of people who became great athletes and coaches, but there’s another side that we need to celebrate and it’s important for young people to realize these other people came from Barberton,” Mayor Bill Judge said.
Judge said he is forming a committee of residents and staffers to select the first five inductees, with the goal of adding a few more each year.
The first panels will be placed next spring. A $30,000 grant awarded to Neighborhood Development Services (NDS) from Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing through its Place-Based Strategies Initiative will pay for those and another 25 blanks for future engraving.
Judge said the walk will probably start near the Lake Theatre and the Nine Muses art gallery on Tuscarawas Avenue. Also nearby is the soon-to-be-renovated Magical Theatre Co., the new DevilStrip Studios art studio and the location of a future art education site NDS has planned.
A statement by NDS in support of the effort said the project “will build upon these investments by transforming a normal sidewalk into a space that recognizes the valuable contributions of Barbertonians and adds a decorative monument to Barberton’s downtown.”
Judge said he initiated the idea after wondering “what else can we do to bring in interest and get people talking positively. Then I thought, [we’re] a very small town compared to other cities, but there are so many people in Barberton who have gone off and done wonderful things. Let’s teach people about that.”
Judge said the sidewalks in the targeted area are already divided into three side-by-side sections, so only the middle section needs to be removed to make room for the marble panel.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.