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Published: Saturday, 10/29/2005

McCloskey holds strong views on what's right, wrong with city

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With Bob McCloskey, what you see is what you get.

The retired union worker doesn't mince words, isn't afraid to argue, and has the rough-and-tumble humor of the working-stiff supporting character in a 1950s movie. And he's eager to show himself true to his blue-collar roots.

"I answer my own phone calls," he says, seated in his council office, which offers a stunning view of downtown Toledo and the Maumee River.

Mr. McCloskey, a councilman since 1993, is among the candidates vying for one of the six at-large seats on City Council. The Democrat now represents District 3.

Mr. McCloskey describes himself as a good city councilman who can "be stronger in an at-large position. I can focus on all of Toledo."

After a dozen years on council, he has own views on what's right and wrong with Toledo.

"Downtown development has been on the table for as long as I can possibly remember," he says. "It seems like most plans haven't revitalized" the area. As for how to make that happen, he cites the need for parking - and businesses to visit once the car is parked.

"We need accessible free parking," he says. "People will pay $25 for a steak, but if they have to pay $4 for parking, it galls them."

The interstate system hasn't done the area any favors, either, he adds.

"When you have an expressway that goes around downtown, people tend to take it," he says.

Strong neighborhoods are another focus for Mr. McCloskey.

"I come from a background as a community activist," he says. "We have to keep neighborhoods up to certain standards so people want to live there."

Encouraging home ownership and participation in community events are also key to getting people involved and giving them a stake in their environment, he says. Well-maintained parks are another must, and one of his passions.

"It's tough," he says. With a tight budget, "parks and recreation are the lowest funding priority."

Even so, he'd like to see parks get a little more respect. His pet projects include building new pool complexes, closing the city's old pools, and making sure parks keep pace with what people want and need. "You can't just put up a basketball hoop and call it a park," he says.

And if he's elected to an at-large seat, he wants to see changes in council itself.

"It's important that council and the mayor work closely together and put our heads together," he says, but adds, "You need an independent council, a strong council that will ask tough questions."

Contact Vanessa Winans at:

vwinans@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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