Proposed Akron arena could be on hold

AKRON -- The City of Akron may not be getting a new arena after all. A proposed sale tax increase would have helped fund the project but it might not have enough support.

Instead, the county wants to focus solely on public safety, which means that the empty lot across from Canal Park could stay that way for a while longer.

Plans to build an $80 million arena could be on hold. The project would have housed concerts and sporting events, as well as the new home of the Zip at no cost to the University of Akron.

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"The arena, I feel, is like a private enterprise and they should be paying it themselves," said Summit County resident Val Sawczyk.

Instead, the money from a proposed sales tax hike could go to the Summit County jail where staffing is at a dangerous minimum.

One guard was beaten black and blue and suffered a back injury at the hands of an inmate. A state jail inspection in May found 24 violations, nearly half related to staffing issues.

"I would much rather it go to public safety than any kind of arena like that. I think we can always use more police and 9-1-1 coverage and I think hats definitely good for us," said Summit County resident Brad Crozier.

A proposed sales tax hike is estimated to bring in $227 million over 10 years.

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$102.5 million would go to the county jail; $68 million to upgrading the 9-1-1 system; and $57 million to the county's General Fund.

Most Summit County residents we spoke with say they'll vote for the tax increase because they believe that investing in public safety is money well spent.

"We have sometimes had to use 9-1-1 and we've appreciated that they've been there when we've needed them," said Summit County resident Anne Hergenrother.

On Monday August 4th, County Council will vote to remove the proposed arena from the original funding plan.

If it passes, residents will get a chance to vote in November whether to use the tax hike to solely support public safety.

Follow WKYC's Kristin Anderson on Twitter: @KristinWKYC


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