If I might be presumptuous enough to respond for the people of East Toledo, I will answer the question posed in Thursday's editorial regarding a new multi-purpose entertainment project being built somewhere other than the site approved overwhelmingly by the city's voters: Never!
Unfortunately we have bigger problems than an ill-conceived plan for a facility in downtown Toledo. We are in desperate need of a lead organization that will put this project at the highest priority and a City Council that will get on board and stop selfishly trying to exact a pound of political flesh from everything the city does.
This project has the potential to be the single largest development ever in the Greater Toledo area. The contract with the state to release funds for the environmental cleanup was signed in December, 2002, and it's now seven months later and we are yet to contract with a cleanup contractor, being fully aware that there are time limits on the availability of these funds.
Months ago the City reported that it was going to send out request for proposals to developers interested in the project; these are yet to be sent out. Shortly after the announcement regarding the RFPs three council members held a press conference to demand significant local union participation.
Finally, we were lucky enough to have a local connection to this country's most successful arena developer who was willing to put himself on the line and bring them to Toledo only to be embarrassed by their treatment by local officials.
Maybe it's time to turn this project over to someone or some organization with a proven track record with economic development and the drive and energy to see it through. We need to keep this incredibly important project moving forward with a whatever-it-takes attitude.
River East Associates
The voters approved a city charter waiver to allow the city to help clean up “brownfields,” particularly the proposed site on the East Side of the river for a new sports arena and marina district.
When I went to the polls, I voted for that waiver with the distinct understanding that the new arena would be on the East Side. If the new sports arena is built on the other side of the river, then I want my vote rescinded! It is no wonder people feel their votes don't count and therefore don't even bother going to the polls. The citizens of Toledo were seriously misled once again.
I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me this might be cause for a lawsuit.
SHERRY ELLEN SCOTT
So Ottawa County has expanded to include East Toledo?
I draw this conclusion from comments made by Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest at a public meeting last week when it was suggested that his financial formula could be used to finance an arena in the eastern part of downtown (Marina District) as well as one in the western part of downtown.
Mr. Kest's reply was: “We'll not be doing that.”
The voters of Toledo overwhelmingly supported the City of Toledo participating financially in an arena project in East Toledo when they waived certain provisions of Section 79 of the City Charter.
So when is a deal not a deal?
I guess when the deal is proposed to be in East Toledo. Oops. Ottawa County. Sorry.
In East Toledo an arena project will jump-start the Marina District redevelopment just as one on Pittsburgh's waterfront did successfully.
What do these two have in common? In each case, remediation of a major brownfield. And each provides for more than adequate parking. If you can't get out of your car you can't spend your money. The Docks' success is proof.
Frank Kass has said that the successful development of The Docks in International Park is why he decided to invest in Toledo's future.
But this proposal to build an arena on the west side of the river rather than on the East Side penalizes those of us who created the excitement and energy that has transferred itself to the Marina District.
To paraphrase Horace Greeley, “Go east, young man” and build an arena and a 100-acre Marina District that will put Toledo on the map as a midwestern destination for tourists, and become a signature development that we can all take pride in. Even those of us who suddenly find ourselves in Ottawa County.
River East Revitalization Corp.
East Toledo is not ready to relinquish the proposed new arena. The arena is the foundation to continued development of the riverfront. Many cities have redeveloped their riverfronts and those projects have been overwhelming successful. I am very grateful to the voters of Toledo for seeing the benefits of a Marina District, not only for East Toledo but also for our entire community.
If my memory serves me right I also believe that East Toledo is still a part of Lucas County. This really begs the question, “why isn't the county working with the city to move the Marina project forward?” The Sports Arena site has served this community well for decades and a new arena replacing the Sports Arena will serve this community for generations to come.
For 15 years I have worked with families in East Toledo. They are hard-working, they take great pride in their community, and are dedicated to improving their neighborhoods.
East Toledo has waited a long time for the opportunity to be recognized as an equal partner in the redevelopment of our city. It is my hope the rest of the city will join our efforts to build a bridge of economic growth and prosperity for both sides of the river.
East Toledo Family Center
The recent proposal from Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest has brought back the idea of building a new sports arena on the west side of the Maumee River. But when Mr. Kest was running for mayor, he spent a great deal of time on the East Side speaking with business owners and residents, stating his support and enthusiasm for an Arena/Marina District on the east side of the river.
So it is disheartening to see that he now proposes removing the “heart” of the project. Now that we are nearly ready to begin work, Mr. Kest wants to take the arena away from the East Side. His financial plan is good, but moving the arena does not make sense, especially for the needs of a few greedy business owners.
Toledo needs an arena on the East Side to ensure economic development of the whole downtown area. Plus the city and Lucas County went to the state of Ohio for money from the Clean Ohio Grant Funds for this project. That $6 million was site and project specific. Moving the arena downtown will not only end the East Side project but also our chances of ever getting grant money from the state again.
The downtown infrastructure cannot handle the Mud Hens stadium, the convention center, a new sports arena, and everyday traffic. Also, to make sure that this project is viable and not a burden to the taxpayers of the city, parking for the arena must be attached to the arena.
It is time that we move on with the Arena/Marina District and get it done. We must concentrate on what is right for the City of Toledo and the downtown area and not the political aspirations of others.
District 3 Councilman
City of Toledo
Patriot Act threatens liberties
As the recent protests in Hong Kong underscore, people everywhere are concerned for their rights and freedoms. Toledo City Council is right to take up opposition to the USA Patriot Act, which increases surveillance on the activities of all Americans, from our habits in taking out books at libraries to our charitable contributions. This is not a partisan issue. Rather, all Americans have a vested interest in protecting our cherished constitutional rights and freedoms.