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Published: Friday, 10/11/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

Commentary

‘Elephants in the room’ from readers

BY KEITH BURRIS
BLADE COLUMNIST

Readers seemed to like the concept of “elephants in the room” in the mayor’s race: issues so big, the candidates can’t deny them, but also so big, they would rather not discuss them.

Here are some choice elephants, from you. All deserve attention from the candidates.

Keep them coming, folks.

● Take advantage of the water.

“The Maumee hosts the Great Lakes’ largest watershed. While they try to figure out what to do with the Marina District, plant grass and make the east-side riverfront attractive — let people stroll along the banks of the river.”

● Leverage the surplus.

“Instead of sitting on the money, use interest from the surplus to create grants to private lawn maintenance companies to hire young workers to clean up public property.”

● Fill empty buildings.

“Tear the hopeless ones down, but change the squatting laws so that young people with the desire to renovate can file a claim and within a year or two can own it outright in return for making the property better.

● Welcome immigrants.

“Invite legal immigrants to come here en masse, as Columbus and St. Paul did. There is no reason our population must remain stagnant. As Mayor Mike Bell says, “All our ancestors came here in some kind of boat.”

● Round up the punks.

“Do we have a curfew? If not, let’s pass one. If so, let’s enforce it and get the punks off the street.”

● Try new ideas in home ownership and parks.

(These two from City Council candidate Sean Nestor.) “The city of Richmond, Calif., uses eminent domain to buy up underwater mortgages at their assessed property value and turn them over to mortgage lenders who are willing to work out a payment plan with struggling families. It’s a possible solution appropriate to Toledo.

“I’d like to see us consider using the city’s surplus money to seed a parks conservancy, which would ensure a sustainable future for our underfunded and neglected city parks.”

● Challenge the city’s self-image.

(From a Seattle native married to a New Yorker, by way of Chicago): “We find the Toledo area a very pleasant surprise. The Toledo Museum of Art is a great gem. We love the symphony, jazz in the Botanical Gardens, the passion of people to restore the beautiful Toledo Lighthouse. And housing costs are about a third of costs in Chicago.

“People in other cities often spend one hour traveling by car to visit assets in the city. If you look at what is within less than one hour driving of Toledo and its suburbs, you have wonderful Ann Arbor, Bowling Green, Tecumseh, and the parks of Lake Erie. We need much more cheer-leading. Confidence building can become contagious.”

That’s a good mantra. Civic pride and confidence are catching. Let’s spread both.

Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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