Residents spent their lunch hour cleaning up Commerce Center Park in downtown Akron (Photo: Yoly Glez M. Heisler)
Commerce Center Park, which offers a small break of nature in the middle of downtown Akron, received a much-needed facelift Thursday, thanks to a group of community volunteers. Located just south of the United One Building and next to the Main Library — with two regal columns, a small gate and courtyard — this park likely goes unnoticed by motorists every day, but is an important element of the downtown Akron landscape.
During the cleanup, men and women bustled about with rakes, shovels and garden gloves. Some of them were bent over the ground, and others were busy filling black plastic bags. Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) provided the painting supplies, and singer Zach Freidhof and actor Kyle Jozsa (from Wandering Aesthetics) provided entertainment for the cleaning crew. Darrell Stamp came down with his crew, DAP’s Safety & Clean Team, and Pritt Entertainment Group (PEG) provided the work force, hot pizza and cleaning supplies.
The project began with the simple notion of doing something good for the community, in which Ryan Pritt, from Pritt Entertainment Group, works and plays. He was running by the Commerce Center Park one day and thought to himself, “Such a shame. It’s such a cool space. It’s so overgrown.” That’s when the idea he had been waiting for came to him.
Amber Grifa was walking by Commerce Center Park when she saw
everyone busy cleaning. She, her dog Mister, and her husband, Ryan,
decided to stop and help. (Photo: Yoly Glez M. Heisler)
He took his idea back to work with him and discussed it with his team, who expanded on it. He then took their ideas to Kimberly Beckett, from Downtown Akron Partnership. They pitched a few of them to her, and together they agreed on how to go about getting the park cleaned up. For Pritt and his team it would be a fun day out of the office, and an opportunity to do something good for downtown. For Beckett it was a great way for her to stretch her organizational skills.
As the lunch hour approached, more people showed up. Alongside Beckett and Pritt were local shop owners, playwrights, bankers and people of all stripes, who pulled weeds, raked debris, painted fences, and simply enjoyed the company of one another on what would have been a lunch hour like any other.
Downtown Akron Partnership is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and build a vibrant and valuable downtown. Visit www.downtownakron.com.