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Published: Sunday, 10/21/2007

Award chase may end with reality check

Time to put up or shut up, Toledo.

Anyone excited by the possibility that this place could be named "Most Liveable City," please send a single dollar bill to city hall.

This would spare Mayor Carty Finkbeiner the considerable bother of privately fund-raising as much as $40,000 for a trip to make our case for snaring the LivCom Award.

Lord, how we love awards. Our municipal motto should be: "Mirror, mirror on the wall " Blade staffer Tom Troy's story the other day about the LivCom Award said:

"Toledo's application portrays a community that redevelops industrial land, protects historic neighborhoods, buys neglected riverfront for parkland, promotes ethanol and solar power, encourages healthy diets, and does it all with Toledo Pride."

Gosh, I've always wanted to live in a place like that. That description made me feel the way I sometimes do after someone I know dies and their obit sounds almost-but-not-quite just like them.

Oh, I'm not quarreling with our enthusiasm. Yeah, Us! But I've trolled the LivCom Web site for specifics and am now just a wee bit worried about our chances. Check out some of the criteria:

Enhancement of the Landscape: Must show "how the landscape in your community has been enhanced to create an environment that generates civic pride, facilitates enjoyable recreational experiences and improves the quality of life within your community."

So, LivCom, how do you feel about a slide show of bloom-filled planters? Truth is, lots of people around here not only make fun of the city's Flower Fetish, they complain about it as evidence of misplaced priorities.

I used to be one of them, but no more. It is undeniably lovely to live in a city of well-designed flower beds and planters - and I mean that sincerely. (For one thing, the blooms help distract us from the growing numbers of boarded-up buildings - and I mean that sincerely too.)

Environmentally Sensitive Practices: Includes "reduction in the consumption of natural resources through use of alternative materials and sources of energy and recycling."

Hmm. Not even 20 percent of Toledoans recycle. Plus, um, well, we make SUVs here. 'Nuff said.

Healthy Lifestyles: Include evidence of "active participation in play, recreation, sport, cultural activity (especially festivals, carnivals, etc.) .•.•.

On the one hand, citizens here in the Home of Jeep practically crucified the mayor for suggesting a bike path. On the other hand, you want festivals? Baby, come on over.

Planning for the Future:Demonstrate "sensitive and creative planning techniques for the creation of a sustainable, liveable community."

Two words: Marina District. Whoo boy! Talk about planning! Which plan you wanna see? Version No. 1? Version No. 1,000?

Heritage Management:Should "demonstrate how your community values, preserves and manages its built and natural heritage so as to contribute positively to the quality of life of current and future generations."

Actually, we're kind of quick to tear stuff down - but then again, that saves future generations from all that pesky maintenance of old buildings. Does that count?

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