Environmental Sustainability in the Commons

By Katelyn Freil

Canoe Adventure 2018

The history of Summit Lake is long and varied, beginning with its creation as a natural lake and wetland. Throughout this history, Summit Lake has served as a connector, whether transporting goods along the Ohio & Erie Canal, serving as a destination for rubber industry workers at the former amusement park, or today, as a modest neighborhood park.

However, not all memories or perceptions of Summit Lake have been positive. Due to its varied history including industry use and development of surrounding land, many questions have surrounded the lake regarding water quality, and whether or not interaction is safe. In 2017 and 2018, partners and community members across northeast Ohio sought to answer questions, resulting in a full environmental report declaring the lake safe for a number of recreational purposes.

Goodyear Volunteer Day 2017

Environmental sustainability is a core principle of Reimagining the Civic Commons, with the goal of increasing access to nature and creating environmentally friendly places easily reached by walking, biking or transit. In Akron, our Civic Commons assets focus mostly on park spaces, including Locks 2, 3, and 4; Cascade Plaza; park space in the Park East neighborhood; and Summit Lake. Through this work, we’re changing perceptions of our natural spaces by connecting people to each other and the natural spaces around them.

Park East Canal Cleanup October 2018

Other examples of programs and projects supporting environmental sustainability in the Akron civic commons include:

  • A series of canal cleanups, with support from more than 350 volunteers in 2018.
  • Summit Metro Parks Nature Center at Summit Lake, including a series of evolving programs that connects people with environmental resources.
  • Installation of a waterfront park at Summit Lake, allowing shore access for fishers and park goers.
  • Public space improvements at Lock 2, 3, and 4.
  • Increased outdoor programming on Cascade Plaza, organized by Downtown Akron Partnership.
  • Towpath Trail improvements that invite people to travel along the path in Akron.

Check out stories on these projects and more at the links below: