Akron’s elected leaders approved Monday the exact locations of the city’s first two splash pads and, in a separate matter, a tax incentive for the city's first new tire factory since World War II.

Compared to outdoor swimming pools, splash pads found in many suburban communities cost a fraction to build and maintain. And with swimming pools at Perkins Woods in West Akron and Reservoir Park in Goodyear Heights on the east side, city administrators settled on splash pad locations in Patterson Park to the north and Joy Park to the south.

The Joy Park project is funded by a $250,000 allocation from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). With all funding identified and already reserved in the 2019 capital budget, Akron City Planner Jim Ashley told City Council on Monday that the attraction should be ready to spray residents in mid-August.

A computer rendering of the finished project depicts a round slab of concrete with six areas of interactive water play for children. A similar design would be implemented in Patterson Park, which will not be ready this summer.

Construction is expected to begin this fall on the Patterson Park site in North Hill, which is projected to open by the summer of 2020. The delay is due to funding.

City administrators slotted the Patterson Park project under “park miscellaneous” projects in the 2019 capital budget until all funding was identified. The first official step to that end took place Monday as council suspended a second reading and approved legislation allowing the mayor to apply for a $90,000 grant from NatureWorks, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

If awarded, the $90,000 grant would be combined with $30,000 in CDBG funds and $30,000 from local income tax collections.

The North Hill splash pad was originally planned at the top of the hill along Patterson Avenue in the park. But concerns over sanitation and waterlines (and a location more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act) prompted engineers to shift the project downhill to a cement pad beside the community center where children now hopscotch.

 

Rolling out tax break

In other business, City Council unanimously passed legislation that should send a projected $740,000 in property tax collections over the next 30 years back to the developer of the Bridgestone Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC).

The race tire factory in renovated and new space at Firestone Park Boulevard and Wilbeth Road is expected to be fully operational by 2021, said Brad Beckert from Akron’s economic development office.

The $17 million project, which includes construction and equipment costs, is being credited with the retention of 80 jobs as Bridgestone readies to idle its current race-tire production plant in 2022. The company employs 765 full-time employees with an annual payroll of about $71 million, according to the city.

Council authorized the mayor’s office on Monday to enter a deal to temporarily acquire the future site of the new race tire factory then immediately transfer it back so that Bridgestone can get a tax break on the improved value of the developed facility.

The tire plant, which is racing to completion ahead of the Indy 500 schedule next year, hopes to roll out the first tire for on-track testing in 2020, marking the first new tire plant in Akron in about 75 years.

“Making tires in Akron,” At-Large Councilman Jeff Fusco observed. “Awesome.”

 

Reach Doug Livingston at dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3792.