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At first glance, the Arbors at Sylvania might seem an unlikely venue to attract four busy Toledo City Council members.
But attract them it did last week. They were Phillip Copeland, Paula Hicks-Hudson, Adam Martinez, and George Sarantou.
The subacute care facility at 7120 Port Sylvania Dr. in Sylvania Township extended an invitation to the whole council to have dinner with and address the residents.
Lynne Carroll, Arbors' life enrichment coordinator, has organized this event before, and said it was a hit with the residents, many of whom live in Toledo. They spend no more than 90 days at the facility.
"We have quite a few Toledo patients who vote for Toledo issues and candidates," she explained. "They follow what's going on where they have their main residence."
Mr. Copeland said the visit to Arbors brought back memories for him. An uncle, the late Bill Copeland, a longtime Toledo councilman, had a stay there.
"I was out here every day, me and my sister. We took shifts," he said. "It was such a nice, clean place. Walking through that front door was like stepping back in time."
Mr. Martinez told the audience, "This is the fun part of what we do."
The elected officials said Toledo had been through some challenging times, but all spoke optimistically. Mr. Sarantou noted that the Jeep Assembly complex and General Motors Co.'s transmission plant were adding jobs.
Mr. Copeland said he recalled how downtown Toledo bustled when he was a boy.
"It was so busy you couldn't walk the streets without bumping into someone. I believe it will be that way again," he said.
Mr. Martinez said Toledo was "not all gloom and doom … We've got a lot going on. We have the casino, the development in East Toledo, and development downtown."
Ms. Hicks-Hudson said, "They talk about how this is the Rust Belt, but it's not as rusty as it used to be. In fact, it's getting shiny."
In response to a question about what could be done with boarded-up houses, she said the properties could be put in a land bank and the structures rehabilitated or demolished.
Arbors patient Bryan Icard of Toledo asked what could be done about crime.
Mr. Sarantou responded that Toledo is a safe city, with crime rates below those of many others.
He said the new police class of 40 officers would make a difference, as would a plan to install up to 150 security cameras in high-crime areas.