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Published: Friday, 8/3/2001

`King' plaza a good outcome

Finally, a decision has been made to rename Central Union Plaza for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The choice resolves an issue that was destined to divide Toledoans along racial lines, the last thing the slain civil rights leader would have wanted.

Selecting the train station is a fitting conclusion to an issue that had pitted Toledoans against each other over whether the city should name a major thoroughfare for Dr. King, and if so, which one?

Cherry Street didn't work. Collingwood Boulevard was a poor choice, too. Then the idea of renaming Toledo Express Airport was floated, but only briefly. Opponents didn't like the idea that the airport is several miles out of the city.

Mayor Finkbeiner wanted the change to occur on his watch, and he gets his wish. Even though Toledo was the only major Ohio city without a street named for Dr. King, the city already has a King Elementary School and a King Bridge. Choosing the train station to bear the King name was the right choice for several reasons. It's in the heart of the city and is among the most used railroad terminals in the state.

Moreover, the committee has ambitious plans for the area surrounding the station. The endeavor includes substantial fund-raising - $1 million, a quarter of which would come from private donors - for an African-American history museum and cultural center. Also envisioned are single family-homes, parks, restaurants, and a hotel.

It's a challenging task that would go hand-in-hand with downtown development. The complex would stand as a tribute to Toledo's black community and breathe new life into an area that needs upgrading.

While the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which owns the train station, will decide the exact new name, it's possible that some folks will continue to refer to the place by its old name. Nothing sinister in old habits - many still refer to the Toledo Botanical Gardens as Crosby Gardens and the King Bridge as the Cherry Street Bridge.

Considering the friction that the mayor's original proposal created, it's good to have an outcome that most Toledoans can embrace.



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