Ravenna hopes the grant will recharge cars and businesses in the city center
Ravenna has applied for a grant to install electric car chargers in a city-owned parking lot, which city leaders hope will boost downtown businesses.
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Economic Development Director Dennis West said he applied for a grant through the Ohio EPA, funded by the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund. The grant would pay up to $15,000 for a port that would charge two electric vehicles in the city parking lot near Meridian Street. Since the parking lot is owned by the city, no matching funds would be required.
West noted that while there aren’t many electric cars in the area right now, the grant allows the city to “get to the forefront” of the trend. He also noted that LG Chem, a company that manufactures batteries for electric cars, is building a factory in Ravenna.
Having a charging port in Ravenna, he said, would make the city a destination for those who need to charge their vehicles. West said he is also working to attract “mid-level” restaurants and commercial businesses to town so that customers, including those who charge their vehicles, spend their money at local stores.
“It’s time to move forward and make Ravenna a destination,” he said.
City council members noted that they had seen many electric vehicle advertisements during the recent Super Bowl and wondered if having charging stations could help the city tap into this market in the future. .
Ravenna City Council President Andrew Kluge noted that a map on Chargehub.com lists several places in the Kent area where people can charge vehicles, but none in the area between there and the Warren area.
“It could be a prime location,” he said.
Kent has 7 charging stations in the city, including one in the Kent Central Gateway car park and 3 locations on the Kent State University campus.
Charging stations are also located at Aurora, the city’s Walmart, and Walden Inn; at Walmart in Streetsboro, Quality Inn and Nissan in Streetsboro; and in several towns in Summit County, including Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, and Akron.
Councilor Cheryl Wood predicted charging stations could entice people to patronize downtown businesses while their vehicles are charging. She said the city should start enforcing its parking restrictions to make sure cars don’t park in spots intended for vehicle charging.
“If I have to plug my vehicle in for 15 minutes to charge it, I’ll find something to do in the meantime,” she said.
The EPA grant requires private property owners to pay 20% matching funds if they plan to install the charging equipment on a commercial property.
West said the city expects to know in July whether it received the grant.
Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at [email protected]