"Whimsy & Vibrancy" Coming to Lock 2 Park

April 25, 2017
By Bob Downing

Efforts are under way to spruce up and revitalize downtown Akron’s Lock 2 Park. This includes adding some “comfort and vibrancy” to the city-owned park through the Akron Civic Commons, according to interior designer Karen Starr of Hazel Tree Interiors. Her plans include mounting a colorful shade-producing fabric atop the metal skeleton of an old canal boat which stands as the main feature of the park. Located between Akron Children’s Hospital and the Akron RubberDucks baseball stadium and along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, Lock 2 is a hidden gem of the downtown area.

Seating in the park would be added under the fabric. It would be perforated to let the wind and water through and it could be a year-round feature, she said. Fabric streamers might also be added to trees or light poles in order to add more color and create a festive mood at the aging park. Wind chimes might also be another addition put in along the Towpath Trail. Supplemental lighting would be beneficial, as well. According to Starr, there would be more seating added throughout the park to create a living room-type feel and to make the park more comfortable for visitors. Space for dining,playing games and sharing books would be added to this “living room,” too. The goal is to create a “whimsical and attractive space,” Starr said. Her formal presentation will be unveiled soon.

“The goal is to activate the space,” said Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. Efforts to spruce up the tiny park are complicated due to it’s location: the baseball team launches its fireworks in the park 22 Friday nights during the season, limiting options.

Partners are also looking at providing food through a vendor at Lock 2, along with live music at lunch time on select Fridays throughout the summer to draw more people to the park. Those plans are being devised by Rice’s group, the hospital, the baseball team and Downtown Akron Partnership.

Lock 2 will also get a major boost from June 5-7 when up to 900 Goodyear associates will volunteer at the park and other Akron sites. Officials are working to determine what those volunteers might do to help refresh Lock 2 Park. Ideas for improvement include landscaping and plantings.

The park could also host the sale of coffee and doughnuts and other foods to serve downtown office workers. Better signage, artwork, music and playground features to attract families might also be added. There is a concern, though, that the current two-pole fencing around the canal is not the safest for small children.

The overall goal is to get more people to use Lock 2, Rice said. “It’s good to see people in that space,” he said. The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, working alongside its partners, is willing to experiment and test some innovative ideas, he added. The organization is also conducting surveys of Lock 2 users to determine what it is they want to see happen at the park in the near future.