Locals react to 'pop-up forest' coming to unused highway in Akron for summer of 2018

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 17:55:55-04

An unused highway in Akron will be turned into a ‘pop-up forest!’

The city received a grant from the Knight Foundation to turn State Route-59 into a green space. However, there's still a long path before that happens.

Back in the 1970’s, the highway was supposed to go through Downtown Akron, but was never finished.

“It’s a road to nowhere. It dead ends into a traffic light at Howard Street,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation of Akron’s Program Director.

The Knight Foundation also helped upgrade Akron's Towpath Trail. The foundation is now helping Akron design a pop-up forest on the closed portion of the highway.

“They can have a picnic, they can walk their dog, walk, play catch with their children,” said Kutuchief.

Artist Hunter Franks has 18 months to make the forest come to life.

“I would love for more green space, more trees, more natural environment,” said Andrew Trombley, who lives nearby. “I would love to see some dirt trails, so it could be easier on everybody’s joints.”

Most of the residents said they were excited about the forest.

“Just as long as it's safe from all the fast moving cars in the area,” said Jessica Driscoll, resident.

What exactly is a 'pop-up forest?'

“Anytime you hear the phrase ‘pop up,’ it means, temporary,” said Kutuchief, “And it's to get people to try it.”

The forest may only stay for a short while, all for a price tag of more than $200,000, through a grant.

According to Kutuchief, the goal is to gauge response and help the city eventually find a permanent solution for the unused highway.

He said organizers should officially break ground on the pop-up forest next Spring.