The view from the base as the first of two smokestacks is imploded.
With the push of a button detonating 86 pounds of dynamite, two brick smokestacks remaining from a long-closed East Toledo power plant crashed to the ground Wednesday.
Deemed unsafe and an eyesore, the two stacks were imploded by an Oklahoma explosives contractor as part of a city goal of clearing the old Toledo Edison power plant site to improve the chances of developing the Marina District.
The implosions drew a crowd of several hundred people to Tribute Park on Front Street. Big cheers went up from the neighbors as a large reddish-brown cloud wafted across Front a couple of blocks away.
Among them was Robert Conley, 9, of Seaman Street who made his family hang around long after the dust and the crowds cleared to request a brick from one of the old stacks.
Not only did he get a brick, but one of the representatives of contractor Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp. rigged up a small amount of explosives and let him detonate it with a plunger.
“Boom,” was young Conley’s comment.
Mayor D. Michael Collins said the eradication of the two obsolete smokestacks was a major milestone for his administration.
“I looked at this and I said it looks like Stuttgart, Germany, 1947,” Mr. Collins said. “I said I want those towers down, the debris cleaned up, and I would like to see it cleaned up before Labor Day, and I believe from the contractor that that will become reality.”
The mayor, assisted by state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) and Bill Buckley, chairman of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, pushed down on an old-fashioned dynamite plunger at the signal, “Fire in the hole,” at the same time the contractors operated the real remote-controlled detonator.
CTY implosion17p The first of two smokestacks is imploded at the decommissioned Acme Power Plant at the East Toledo Marina District, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Remaining is a third stack, which will be reduced by about one-third of its 298-foot height. The mayor’s hope is to paint and decorate the remaining brick structure to look like a lighthouse and then install a revolving red and green lamp, symbolic of the lamps used on boats to indicate port and starboard.
“Whoever would be the public sponsor of this, let them define the light,” Mr. Collins said. “I just need the green,” he said about his quest to find a corporate donor for the projected $18,000 annual cost.
The city contracted with B&B Wrecking of Cleveland, which subcontracted with Dykon Explosive of Tulsa, Okla. Under a $388,000 contract funded by the federal government, B&B is to finish removing the remaining foundations and rubble from the power plant, lower the third stack, renovate a small guard shack for possible use as a tourism center, and grade and seed the site.
Dykon President Jim Redyke said after the operation that his workers placed 43 pounds of dynamite at the base of each tower, stuffed into 30 holes. The holes were concentrated toward the south side of the towers so when they blew out one side of the base, the towers simply tipped over.
Mr. Redyke said it went well, adding that each implosion is carefully planned.
“They’re never routine until they’re down,” Mr. Redyke said.
Ron Gilbert, Dykon project manager, said the workers drilled smaller holes than they might have otherwise because of some concern about cracking the brick.”
Mayor D. Michael Collins applauds at the site. The mayor, state Rep. Teresa Fedor, and Bill Buckley of the Great Lakes museum pushed the ceremonial plunger.
Those things were dangerous,” Mr. Gilbert said. “This thing’s been cracking.” He said the two demolished stacks were 258 and 266 feet high.
Several spectators said they see the demolitions as a sign that the Marina District project, still just a concept for a 125-acre shopping, residential, office, and tourism development, is moving forward.
“I wish it was going a little faster,” said Shawna Ribby, 40, who brought her daughter, Shaina, 3, and father-in-law, Carl Ribby, to watch the implosions from their house several blocks away. “I’m really excited at what’s to come for the east side.”
The demolitions had a personal component for Councilman Sandy Spang. Her late father, Fred Shank, worked in the old power plant for Toledo Edison from the 1950s to the 1980s.
“He would have wanted to see this,” Ms. Spang said about her father, who died in 2011. “I think he would have felt it was very fitting to keep the remaining stack.”
Ms. Fedor noted that the cleanup of the larger Marina District was partially paid for by two $3 million grants from the Clean Ohio Fund that passed in 2000.
“This is the product of good public policy that people voted for,” Ms. Fedor said.
Ms. Fedor said the structures were deemed unsafe and in violation of Federal Aviation Administration regulations because of improper lighting for aviation.
Also on hand was state Rep. Michael Sheehy (D., Oregon), whose district includes part of East Toledo, as does Ms. Fedor’s.
The coal-fired steam plant was built in 1917 and closed in 1994.