Kathy Antoniotti

GREEN: Residents soon will be able to choose from several options when buying groceries, treating their ailments and finding recreational settings near the city center, which will become more user-friendly for motorists, Mayor Dick Norton said Wednesday.

During his annual State of the City address, Norton summarized advances the city made in 2013 as well as his vision of things to come in 2014 and beyond to a crowd of more than 200 at Raintree Country Club.

“Currently, Green is in what I like to refer to as a thoughtful, deliberate growth phase,” Norton emphasized.

With the completion of a traffic survey of the area in hand, the city is taking its first steps this year to design four intersections to help relieve traffic congestion on the city’s main thoroughfare, he said.

The design will focus on four intersections that form a perimeter around Massillon Road, Boettler Road, Corporate Woods Circle and Corporate Woods Parkway.

“Because of the proximity of these intersections to each other and how they are interrelated in terms of traffic flow along Massillon Road, the intersections need to be designed together to ensure the best solution,” the mayor said.

The timeline for construction is contingent on completion and approval of the final design, Norton cautioned.

“I can assure you that in the meantime, we will look for opportunities to improve traffic flow,” he said.

Norton spoke of advances the city has made in retail grocery stores in 2013, including the opening of the first Buehler’s store in Summit County, on South Main Street. He noted the expansion and renovation of the Giant Eagle into a Market District concept store just west of Massillon Road at I-77 and said that Acme Fresh Market, currently under construction along the east side of Massillon Road, is set to open in the summer.

Health care, Norton said, is supported by Summa Health Center and its $6.2 million medical office expansion and Akron General’s Health and Wellness Center, which recently opened a three-story medical office building. A professional building to house Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Paragon Women’s Health and a Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic office is under construction at state Route 619 and Massillon Road.

Norton said a proposal to build a central park near the Central Administration Building has moved to planning and design stages. The $5 million project will be situated on land adjoining city and school district property.

A steering committee of school administrators, city employees, residents and business owners will direct the project, Norton said.

Last year, the city received income tax revenue of $19.5 million, a 2.5 percent increase over 2012. Other revenue totaled almost $9 million for the year.

The city’s general fund ended the year at $18.6 million, a 17.5 percent decrease from 2012, due largely to investments in capital projects and infrastructure improvements. It was a budgeted decrease, the mayor said.

The city’s proposed capital and infrastructure improvement plan for 2014 is “significantly less than 2013,” he said.

“In 2014, we plan on spending $7.5 million versus the $17 million in 2013,” Norton said.

The city was able to leverage more than $3.8 million from state and federal grants in 2013 for infrastructure improvements, including road construction, stormwater improvements and park additions.

Phase Three at Port Green at CAK Global Gateway International Business Park is nearing completion, connecting Greensburg Road to International Parkway, Norton said.

“Once the road is completed in the spring, 140 acres will be available for development in lot sizes from 5 to 60 acres,” he said.

Norton said his goal as mayor is to help create a city in which families will want to live and grow.

“I propose that we are in the midst of developing a sense of place — a downtown, a city center, a place that is Green — our home,” he said.

Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or kantoniotti@thebeaconjournal.com.