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Published: Thursday, 1/26/2006

Health of the city

MAYOR Carty Finkbeiner's State of the City speech demonstrated, as if anyone had a doubt, that Toledo has its cheerleader-in-chief back again. It was Carty still in campaign mode, complete with an a cappella rendition of "We're Strong for Toledo."

Along with reaffirming his enduring love for this city, Mr. Finkbeiner's speech, marking the formal beginning of his third term, revisited mostly familiar themes.

The mayor re-emphasized his insistence that Toledo will not accept "minimum development standards" for refurbishing the Westgate Village Shopping Center; declared that the Marina District will be completed with a "first-class entertainment venue;" stated his commitment - without details - to a downtown sports arena, and asserted that he will form a 25-member business advisory group to help sweep away municipal barriers to creation of jobs and improve the local economy.

Mr. Finkbeiner did take the public opportunity, however, to issue a call for a city fitness program, and in this he is on the right track if not the right path.

The "Get Fit Toledo" program would include periodic fitness walks in neighborhoods, and creation of what apparently would be a walking/jogging/biking path from the south suburbs to downtown Toledo.

The route of the proposed path - the median of the Anthony Wayne Trail - might be unworkable for safety reasons, but the conceptis a sound one. Society as a whole, and Toledo in particular, has gotten soft around the middle, and lack of exercise is a major reason.

While the mayor will probably come in for his share of jibes for trying to prod Toledoans toward better physical fitness, he is on the same page as most physicians and health experts, who say Americans need to get off their duffs to maintain or - in most cases - improve their cardiovascular well-being.

Perhaps Mr. Finkbeiner's idea for fitness paths could be extended to include similar trails from all quarters of Toledo, to connect with existing hiking/biking facilities on the fringes of the city and in the suburbs. As we said, this is not a new idea; some plans already exist. Why not make it happen now?

In a similar vein, we would be remiss if we did not point out that the mayor's fitness push would dovetail nicely with the development of a health club downtown, a badly needed urban amenity Mr. Finkbeiner talked a lot about during his two previous terms in office but was never able to accomplish.

Providing new and convenient venues for exercise undoubtedly would produce a citizenry that would be, in physical not just musical terms, strong for Toledo.



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