Mayoral candidates Mike Bell, left, and D. Michael Collins answer questions at a forum Wednesday in Point Place.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Mayor Mike Bell and his opponent in the Nov. 5 election, Councilman D. Michael Collins, took their campaigns to Point Place on Wednesday, emphasizing their awareness of the community’s goals as a tourist destination.
About 100 people turned out for the two-hour forum in the Friendship Park Community Center located on 131st Street.
Mr. Collins circulated a pamphlet showing different kinds of bricks and other architectural elements that he invited neighbors to choose from to demonstrate how the community will be able to guide its own future.
“You want to capitalize on the natural resources and the beauty that surrounds you,” Mr. Collins said, suggesting Cullen Park as a destination for birding and fishing piers.
He compared the city to a symphony orchestra and the neighborhoods to the different instruments.
“You can pick out your streetscape. We will work together with Point Place, with every neighborhood, and we’ll create a music theme throughout Toledo characteristic of that symphony. It will not be noise; it will be beautiful music,” Mr. Collins said.
Mr. Collins blasted the Bell administration, saying he spoke to a tenant of the downtown Spitzer Building, which has been ordered closed by the city for safety reasons, and asked what help the city offered to the dislocated tenants.
“And you know what she told me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. And that is what we have to change in the city of Toledo,” Mr. Collins said.
Mr. Bell recalled his upbringing in the Stickney Avenue area not far away in North Toledo and said he used to play football every Sunday in the park.
“I know this is an extremely proud community. We are trying to work very well with the people in this particular portion of our community to turn it into what you want it to be,” Mr. Bell said.
The mayor said the administration helped with projects such as the Howard Pinkley pathway, the Nautical Village project, the replica lighthouse on Summit Street, and the reconstruction of the dike along the lake.
“If you want to turn this into a destination point you need to have housing and hotels for people to stay in,” Mr. Bell said. “We are utilizing what you’re telling us. When you come to us with a program, an idea, a concern, we’ve been addressing it.”
The mayor denied that the Spitzer tenants were being ignored, saying, “We’ve had our economic development department down there and anybody that has asked us to help, we’ve been willing to help.”
His deputy mayor in charge of development, Paul Syring, said the city is contributing $15,000 to the “soft closure” of the building, and said the impending closure is well-known to many owners of office space downtown who are “courting the tenants.”
“The private market is addressing their needs with respect to viable spots to relocate to in the downtown area,” Mr. Syring said. He also said the Toledo Chamber of Commerce was extending some help.
Televised debates are planned for Oct. 29 on WTVG-TV, Channel 13, and Oct. 30 on WTOL-TV, Channel 11, both at 7 p.m.
Mr. Collins said later that the tenants of the building “are basically on their own,” and said the city should have a meeting and ask what services it can provide.
Point Place is one of Toledo’s higher voter-turnout communities, and it went strongly for Mr. Collins, an independent, in the Sept. 10 primary.
Mr. Collins won 469 votes, followed by 336 for Democratic Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and 327 each for Mr. Bell, also an independent, and for Democratic City Councilman Joe McNamara.
Mr. Bell said he didn’t carry Point Place, which makes up the bulk of Ward 1, four years ago.
“What I keep doing is just putting myself out there. We’ve done a lot of things. Working on the federal plant for dredging Cullen Park, dealt with the dike issue, we painted this building here, we’re rebuilding Suder Avenue, we’ve done a lot. People have to decide what works for them. They are going to vote who they’re going to vote for, but it isn’t because we haven’t put an effort to try to make sure, as in every district, to provide a high quality of life,” Mr. Bell said.
Mr. Collins said he campaigned hard in Point Place in the primary, going door-to-door, participating in cleaning Cullen Park, and walking in the Point Place parade.
“I would continue to work with them,” Mr. Collins said.
Joyce Ejhinger, publicity chairman for the Point Place Business Association, confirmed that the North Toledo community is hoping to attract tourists with birding and boating.
“It’s the place where two rivers and the lake come to a point. It’s a nautical community,” Ms. Ejhinger said.
The mayoral candidates were followed by candidates for Toledo City Council, Toledo Municipal Court, Toledo School Board, and Washington Local School Board, and a speaker on behalf of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority levy renewal request.