Revitalization efforts in the Old South End should inspire all of Toledo.
Business and civic leaders in the neighborhood have been quietly working together to address blight and attract businesses. They’ve already accomplished much with their initiative to develop this unique, historic area of Toledo. They’re focused on reviving the neighborhood while maintaining affordable housing for working-class families by improving the aging housing stock and making the most of the Old South End’s three miles of riverfront property.
Neighborhood organizers also are making attracting new businesses a priority — a pizza chain is expected later this year.
All of this planning and development has sprung from neighborhood people working together to improve their portion of Toledo. It wasn’t directed by downtown leaders or politicians. Other areas of the city feeling neglected by Toledo politicians should follow their example.
Farm Labor Organizing Committee President Baldemar Velasquez emphasizes that revitalizing the neighborhood will hinge on improving relationships between young Latinos in the neighborhood and the city’s police. It’s important for those young people to feel respected, rather than targeted and profiled, for them to feel a part of their community, he said. His point is well-taken. FLOC has been an important part of efforts there, leading the campaign to improve street lighting to deter crime.
Mr. Velasquez also urged the neighborhood’s property owners to embrace the revitalization. Resistance from some who don’t want to join in the efforts to develop the Old South End is an obstacle to achieving the community organizers’ goals.
Other neighborhoods should take note. You don’t need a city hall initiative to pursue a new vision for your community. Look to the leaders among your neighbors, recruit like-minded people and work together to improve your neighborhood.
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