Marina District supporters, take heed, take heart, then take a number.
There is good news and bad news regarding the proposed $191 million development in East Toledo.
Bad news first.
The bad news is that a tax on cigarettes and beer to help finance a state-of-the-art sports and concert arena in the Marina District won't be on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The good news is that patience is a virtue.
Hey, I approached the Marina District venture with an open mind.
I promised myself that I'd be objective about supporting the feasibility of a multi-million-dollar entertainment and business venture during these rugged economic times.
So when I realized that the Marina District was only a concept, and that people don't normally make waves over something they can't see or touch, I decided to give it some time because I believe it's an idea worth waiting for.
Besides, people love to diss Toledo. Especially Toledoans. As in, “Yeah, Toledo is OK, but it's small potatoes.”
I take it personally when people slam Toledo. I'm not a native, but this is where I live.
I don't feel like slamming Toledo. I feel that if the right people lend their support, Toledo could be all that it can be.
Yeah, it would be nice if the Marina District was a bigger deal here. The citizens of Toledo just aren't all that enamored with the idea.
I don't blame them. There hasn't been much to get excited about.
Mayor Jack Ford always plays it close to the vest. He prefers reaching a favorable conclusion before making any bold proclamations. So he's been low-key regarding the Marina District - almost to a fault.
In dealing with a skeptical public, however, you can't honestly expect people to vote for something they can't see.
Moreover, it isn't like Ford, the political leader of Toledo, is making a public spectacle of himself over the Marina District.
There have been no artist renderings of the arena made public recently - at least none that I know of.
It's important to make voters feel comfortable.
You have to give them a vision, at least show them what they're voting for.
Voting for the so-called sin tax doesn't mean cigarettes will go from $3 to $6 a pack. State law allows counties to apply taxes of up to 4.5 cents for a pack of cigarettes.
Paying an extra nickel to help build the Marina District won't be the end of the world.
It would be money well spent, creating business and job opportunities in East Toledo - but affecting all Toledoans.
You didn't have to attend college to understand why Ford is shying away from the sin tax. He doesn't want it to conflict with a possible referendum on Toledo's smoking ban.
I mean, how can you ask people to stop smoking in restaurants and bars but ask them to pay a tax for an arena that hasn't reached the drawing-board stage?
Levies are not a popular ballot issue right now. A levy supporting Toledo Public Schools failed just last week.
So if you're going to ask people to vote for something, and ask them to vote in your favor, you have to give them a reason to be excited.
You have to show them what they're getting for their money. That a vote for the Marina District is a vote for a more prosperous Toledo.
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