Maumee River boaters will have the chance next spring to take showers in downtown Toledo's Promenade Park, a feature proposed 25 years ago.
Toledo City Council voted 6-5 Tuesday to keep plans for a $27,000 shower facility in the city's $1.47 million capital improvement program for 2010-14. The four showers - two for men, two for women - are to be installed in the park's restroom facility in time for next year's boating season.
In 1985, council voted to eliminate the showers from the facility's building plans, cutting an estimated $15,000 from what at the time was a $260,000 project.
Mayor Mike Bell said the idea was reborn in his meetings with members of area yacht clubs, who told him more boaters would dock near downtown and spend the night on the vessels if they could count on a morning shower.
"That to me is pretty cheap for the advantages we may get from the boaters coming down and spending a night and spending money in our restaurants and going to Mud Hens games and not having to cast off," Mayor Bell told The Blade.
Yet not all council members bought into this hygienic approach to economic development.
Council D. Michael Collins called for removing the shower plan from the city's capital improvement schedule. "To put $27,000 into a shower in Promenade Park is, in my opinion, a want, not a need," he said.
Voting with Mr. Collins against the showers were Tom Waniewski, Wilma Brown, Mike Craig, and George Sarantou. They were outvoted by Michael Ashford, Phillip Copeland, Rob Ludeman, Adam Martinez, Joe McNamara, and Steven Steel.
Showers have been touchy subjects in Toledo politics. Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner was widely criticized in 2006 after installing a shower on the 22nd floor of Government Center. The project was bid at $9,996 - just below the $10,000 threshold at which a contract requires approval from council.
Mayor Finkbeiner said the shower allowed him to accomplish more work at the office after exercising. Mayor Bell said he has used the mayoral shower once this year during Bike to Work week.
In other matters, council members pushed back an effort by Mr. Ludeman to vote on a plan that would give $200,000 from the city's Community Development Block Grant fund to the economic development wing of Lucas County government.
The Lucas County Improvement Corp. wants the money to hire two employees to focus on business retention and outreach efforts in Toledo.
Though the plan wasn't set for a vote, Mr. Ludeman said it had been discussed enough and he saw no reason to stall. But several councilmen, led by Mr. Ashford, requested more time to decide.
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