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Published: Friday, 6/6/2003

New group's event upsets Old West End

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Forecasters predict warm temperatures for this weekend, but an icy chill may linger at the Old West End Festival.

Relations in the historic neighborhood are tense as a new group, the Preservation Alliance of the Old West End, prepares to open four homes for fund-raising tours during the annual festival.

An established group, the Old West End Association, is holding its own historic home tour. Ticket sales for its seven-home tour benefit the association, which has organized the festival for about 30 years.

Greg Stolarski, a member of the association and festival chairman, said that the Preservation Alliance having a home tour “within our festival to raise money for their own cause is kind of disappointing.”

“We asked them not to do this,” Mr. Stolarski said. “There are lots of neighbors very upset.”

Some neighbors are so upset that they made threatening telephone calls to supporters of the Preservation Alliance tours, said Tammy Michalak, president of the new group.

“We are concerned that there is going to be property damage,” Ms. Michalak said. “This is a neighborhood that's always prided itself on acceptance. ... It is very disappointing for us.”

Old West End Association members said they are not opposed to the group's formation.

“The group has every right to organize. The problem is with the home tours. If they were to do any other fund-raiser, there would have been no problem,” association member Brent Welsh said. “I'm very disappointed that they are putting on home tours in direct competition with our well-established tours.”

Ms. Michalak said the Preservation Alliance is not trying to compete with the Old West End Association, adding that the festival seemed like “a perfect opportunity to let people know what we're trying to do.”

The Preservation Alliance plans to work with city officials and neighbors to make sure residents apply to the Old West End Historic District Commission before making additions or alterations to their homes.

“It's hit or miss. Some people are doing it, some aren't,” said Jeanene Perkins, a Preservation Alliance member. “We are sorely missing the boat about historic preservation in this neighborhood.”

Other Preservation Alliance goals include lending tools and scaffolding to residents working on their homes and educating neighbors about the importance of historic preservation.

Ms. Michalak said some neighbors perceive the Preservation Alliance as a group formed to oppose the Center for Glass proposed by the Toledo Museum of Art. She said the organization is not planning any action against the center.

The Preservation Alliance elected officers and registered with the Internal Revenue Service this week, and the group is filing for nonprofit status, Ms. Michalak said. The organization has between 25 and 30 members.

The new group will add to the preservation efforts of the Old West End Association, Ms. Michalak said.

The Old West End Association, which has about 100 people regularly attend its meetings, has many tasks, ranging from upkeep of the neighborhood arboretum to offering an annual college scholarship.

Its preservation programs include working with homeowners to fix deteriorating houses and giving away an annual $1,000 grant to a nonprofit group planning to beautify the historic district.



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