Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rough Rider Way

Over the last few months, I've gotten into the habit of walking and jogging at the Roosevelt-Stanton campus pretty much every day or as close to that as possible (outside Sundays).  It's relatively close, there isn't much car traffic to deal with (crossing the roads), and when I get there I have a choice of 2 all-weather tracks to use for my jogging.  Only my ankle sprain in June derailed my walking for about a month and my jogging for a little longer than that (much to my dismay).  I started when the weather first started getting a little warmer back in May (was very late this year) and lately have been going in the evening so that it's not as hot and the sun isn't scorching me too bad.  Plus, after a certain time, Roosevelt Stadium is covered in shadows from the trees, so I can do my jogging there.  The track at the adjacent Stanton Stadium has absolutely no shade at all, so I only jog there when it's dusk or cloudy.

Roosevelt Stadium, which got a new scoreboard and new
goalposts in the last few weeks!
Anyway, all that walking, especially the unshaded parts, definitely got me thinking.  Now, for those who don't know me very well, while I love music and teaching, it wasn't my first passion.  No, through elementary, middle, and much of high school I had every intention of being an architect.  While I obviously didn't go down that career path, I still love architecture and designing buildings.  Too often I find myself looking over a building and renovating it in my head; things I would change, additions I would make, etc.  That has definitely been true for Roosevelt as well.  Not only did I spend tons of time as a student there, but now as an employee I have even more time in there.  These next few posts I'll share just some of my ideas; basically, the ideas I think could be feasible versus my more grandiose pipe dreams for Roosevelt High School.  The first has to do with what most people know as "Roosevelt Drive".

We could have a special street sign like this (since it's not a city road)
or just use the traditional green and white Kent street sign format,
but either way it needs a street sign!
The road that goes across the entire Roosevelt Campus is known colloquially as "Roosevelt Drive".  It goes west from a signaled intersection with North Mantua Street (SR 43) to an intersection with Hudson Road and Robert Drive.  The road is not part of the city of Kent's road system--it's maintained by the school district--and has no street signs.  As a result, it's often omitted from published maps of Kent and some of the older maps identify the road as the "Roosevelt Service Road" if it's on there at all.  I've seen Google Earth label it as "Robert Drive" since it lines up with Robert Drive at Hudson Road.  In any case, it has no official name and no signs to identify it.  That's the first thing I'd like to change.  I'd like to see it officially named "Rough Rider Way" complete with street signs at each end of the road, whether they be special red street signs with the Roosevelt "R" logo or the typical green Kent street signs with the city's tree logo.  Basically something so it can be identified by anyone, especially people from out of town, for the purpose of giving directions.  I chose "Rough Rider Way" because Kent already has a "Roosevelt Avenue" in the southwest part of the city, so having a Roosevelt Drive and a Roosevelt Avenue in two different parts of town could be somewhat confusing.  Plus, the road at the high school includes Stanton Middle School, which also uses the Rough Rider mascot and it's how you get to Roosevelt Stadium and all the athletic facilities.  I've seen many other schools use their team name as the name for the road and I must admit I was initially inspired by these metal collectible "street signs" I've seen in some of the classrooms that say "Rough Rider Way".

Wouldn't this look much better with
trees lining the sidewalk?
The other things I'd like to see along this newly-named Rough Rider Way are some trees!  Walking along that road so many times now, I have lost count how many times I wish I had some shade.  Most of the road is completely devoid of trees.  On one part of the road, there can't be any trees because it parallels the main water line for the city of Akron.  But the side of the road that has the sidewalk can definitely have some trees and the part that runs almost directly east-west could probably have trees on both sides.  What I'd like to do is set up a program kind of like those brick-paving fundraisers where you can buy a personalized brick.  Instead, you have it set up where people, families, businesses, and other organizations can pay to have a tree planted along this Rough Rider Way.  It could even be tied in with the Urban Forestry class at Roosevelt not only for the physical act of planting and caring for the new trees, but also the research of what kinds of trees would work best for lining the road and even some research on what trees will turn red in the fall.  Anyway, the cost would include the tree (maybe have more than one choice) and some kind of sign or plaque for a personalization aspect.  I proposed this as an option for Kent's new Veterans Memorial Park, but I submitted it late and they went another direction anyway.  Either way, I think not only would it create a shaded area for those that walk along the road (students walk between the two schools all the time and I'm hardly the only resident who uses the campus for exercise!), but in the fall, it would be quite a sight to have a whole line of trees on Rough Rider Way turn a blazing red.  Added to that, we're beautifying the campus and hey, this IS the Tree City!

I recognize that there would be drawbacks, mostly maintenance issues and the removal of leaves in the fall.  It would be interesting to see what kind of discussion or response such a plan would get if it were ever proposed.  But in terms of cost, this would be largely self-supported.  About the only cost would be the street signs for Rough Rider Way.    
Map of campus, ca. 2005, showing in yellow where I would like to see trees and where they seem possible.  The south side of the part of "Rough Rider Way" where it runs diagonally is over the main water line for the city of Akron, so we couldn't plant a row of trees there.  The line runs diagonally across the entire campus.  There could also be trees on parts of the other roads on campus if the program were popular enough!

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