Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Civic Center Mall panel launched

County names 11 to committee to rejuvenate downtown site


The Civic Center Mall is located on Jackson Street across from the Lucas County Courthouse.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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A few times a year, on days such as Memorial Day, the Civic Center Mall in downtown Toledo teems with people and beams with pride.

The rest of the year, it's largely forgotten.

"On special occasions it becomes everyone's highest priority, but it comes or goes," said Tina Skeldon Wozniak, a Lucas County commissioner.

She has been at the front of a revitalization effort for the open green area that includes an enclave of public art and stone memorials, surrounded by several government buildings.

It's Ms. Skeldon Wozniak's hope that a Civic Center Mall oversight commission will help rejuvenate the area and make it a community gathering place.

Lucas County and Toledo officials created the commission in May. Tuesday, the commissioners appointed the first 11 people to the commission.

Included are Robert Roether, an Iraq War veteran; Stephen Cannode, from the Veterans Service Commission; Judge James Carr of the U.S. District Court, and James Poisel, a landscape architect.

The city will make 10 appointments to the committee, and still needs to do so. City Councilman Adam Martinez, who has been working with Ms. Skeldon Wozniak, said the city has requested nominations and is a week or two from submitting names to the mayor.

Part of the challenge for commission members is being asked to come up with ideas to better the area without knowing what money will be available. Aside from annual maintenance for the mall, there's no money marked for the improvements.

"Our jobs are to be creative to get things done. We were worried at one point we couldn't fund a ballpark downtown, and we couldn't fund an arena downtown, but we made it happen. You have to dream and you have to find ways to get things done or everything stays stagnant," Ms. Skeldon Wozniak said.

She and Mr. Martinez say they envision the project as a public-private partnership with local donations and in-kind work.

There's also the possibility of money from the U.S. General Services Administration, which is in charge of plans to build a $96 million federal courthouse at the north end of the mall.

Steve Katich, a spokesman for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, said the General Services Administration has told Miss Kaptur's office it intends to work with local officials.

"You won't find it in a line item; you won't find it in an account anywhere just yet. The expectation is the overall package the General Services Administration puts forth for the new project will involve them as a partner in redeveloping the Civic Center Mall," Mr. Katich said.

Ms. Skeldon Wozniak would like to see better lighting, and perhaps the addition of seating areas or a walking path. Ultimately, those suggestions will come from the commission, which is working off an earlier plan put together by the General Services Administration.

The commission will be looking to streamline things such as maintenance, which Mr. Martinez said has been split among the city, county and state.

The other seven appointed members and the groups they represent are Donald Colby, Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Michael Duket, Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, Brenda Peare, U.S. General Services Administration, Michael Young, Toledo Design Center, James Hartley, the Exchange Club, and Pauline Kynard, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. Ms. Skeldon Wozniak is also on the committee.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134

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