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Rossford's idea for aerial gondolas out of the box, needed

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    Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III, flanked by Rev. Cedric Brock of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, left, and James Gee, CEO-General Manager of TARTA, in 2014.

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    A gondola is already planned for a hotel that will be built in the entertainment district to connect it with the Hollywood Casino.

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Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon wants aerial gondolas to run from the city’s planned entertainment district to Toledo’s downtown and popular areas.

Why not? 

Mr. MacKinnon’s outside-the-box thinking is something that is missing among Toledo’s leaders, including James Gee, general manager of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. Sylvania Township recently killed TARTA’s sales-tax funding plan, partly because trustees failed to see a clear, progressive vision from Mr. Gee and his agency.

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nbre-rally01p-1-20

Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III, flanked by Rev. Cedric Brock of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, left, and James Gee, CEO-General Manager of TARTA, in 2014.

The Blade
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“I’m not proposing to build something on the moon or under the sea. I want to take the technology that is already out there and bring it to Toledo,” Mr. MacKinnon said. “With the momentum from ProMedica moving downtown, I think we should seize the day. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to fail.”

The idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Medellin, Colombia, has transformed itself with cable cars that tower over the city and link up with the city’s trains. Bolivia built a six-mile-long cable-car system that connects La Paz to a nearby city in the mountains. It has been so effective in cutting down traffic and pollution that the system is going to be expanded to more than 10 miles. Other urban gondola systems are used in Hong Kong, Turkey, and Singapore. The city of Rome has an extensive bus system, a subway, and trollies, as well as a booming taxi system. Good transit is varied transit.

In Rossford, a gondola is already planned for a hotel that will be built in the entertainment district, which will begin taking shape in the spring. The gondola will connect to the Hollywood Casino. Mr. MacKinnon envisions extending it to the Toledo Zoo, the Docks area, and downtown Toledo. A station could be integrated with a trolley car system that could ferry people around downtown to various hot spots or workplaces. Or people could hop on a modernized TARTA bus at the gondola station. The gondola lines could be the centerpiece of a modernized transportation system that could power Toledo’s downtown revitalization. 

“It would separate Toledo from every other city in the country. I think we should think big,” Mr. MacKinnon said. “Our entertainment assets are so close to each other ... we’re not talking a lot of miles. You could go to a Mud Hens game, then later get something to eat without ever getting in a car.”

Mr. MacKinnon said he has mentioned his idea to Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken. He plans to set up a meeting with other area officials and business people. 

This idea may seem to some people like “out-of-the-box” thinking that is too far out. But it is precisely the sort of bold, imaginative, and fearless thinking that Greater Toledo needs.

Good for Mr. MacKinnon. We need more of his spunk .

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