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Published: Saturday, 8/30/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

CUTTING HISTORY DOWN TO SIZE

Implosion leaves Acme stack at half of original target height

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dykon Corporation was contracted through B&B Wrecking by the City of Toledo to perform the implosion. Dykon Corporation was contracted through B&B Wrecking by the City of Toledo to perform the implosion.
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The first thought from several spectators after a demolition team took down most of the last smokestack at East Toledo’s old Acme power plant site Friday morning was that what remained was too short.

“I think they messed up, and took out way more than they wanted to,” said Bill Reece, an East Toledoan who watched the implosion from a field along Front Street, south of where the plant once stood.

Not exactly — nobody messed up, at least that’s what both officials from the city and the Oklahoma-based subcontractor that rigged and detonated the stack now say.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view slideshow.

The implosion was within the tolerances established beforehand.

But the result, a city official conceded afterward, was not quite what had been hoped for.

“Unfortunately, we lost some of the height we wanted to maintain,” economic development director Bill Burkett said.

But the 75 feet or so that remains, he said, “will be stabilized at that height and we go from there.”

At 75 feet, it will be less than half the height that Lisa Ward, spokesman for Mayor D. Michael Collins’ administration, said it would become when initial plans were publicized in mid-June to demolish two other Acme stacks and shorten the biggest one.

The city then said that only the top 100 feet would come off the 298-foot stack, making it short enough that its lack of aviation lights would no longer violate federal regulations.

But Ms. Ward said Friday that officials subsequently determined that above 100 feet, the 85-year-old brick tower was not stable enough to keep.

Spectators gather to watch and record the implosion of a portion of the last smokestack at the Acme power plant along the Maumee River in East Toledo. Spectators gather to watch and record the implosion of a portion of the last smokestack at the Acme power plant along the Maumee River in East Toledo.
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A structural report said it would cost the city $750,000 to preserve the stack at the taller level, Mr. Burkett said.

“It all came down economically to, ‘Let’s leave about 100 feet left,’ ” he said.

For the implosion, though, subcontractor Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp. of Tulsa was given 25 feet of leeway either way.

Ron Gilbert, Dykon’s project manager, said that was necessary because dismantling old brick structures — especially ones without any as-built engineering documents — is not a precise operation.

“Of course we wanted it to break perfectly and eat our cake too,” Mr. Gilbert said afterward.

But the bottom line, he said, was that the implosion stayed within the specifications, nobody got hurt, “and the city gets a marvelous” — he paused — “whatever.”

A portion of the last smokestack at the Toledo Edison Power Plant in East Toledo is imploded Friday. A portion of the last smokestack at the Toledo Edison Power Plant in East Toledo is imploded Friday.
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City officials wouldn’t say how much they spent for East Toledo’s new “marvelous whatever.” The cost came out of a $388,000 demolition contract to clean up the site.

Mayor Collins has proposed styling the smokestack’s stump to resemble a lighthouse, with a revolving red-and-green lamp atop it to symbolize lights used on boats to indicate port and starboard.

Mr. Burkett said Friday, however, that all options remain open — including razing the rest of the structure.

Demolition, however, would require money and the approval of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which in 2011 provided Toledo with a $475,000 grant for site cleanup and historic preservation at the Acme site.

The HUD grant, Mr. Burkett said, specified preserving at least part of the smokestack as well as the plant’s guard house, which still stands but has been mothballed.

Most of the old power plant, which had been decommissioned in the early 1990s, was razed three years ago, but the stacks remained.

The gathering of spectators was appreciably smaller than that which witnessed the two smaller stacks’ July 16 demolitions, but those who showed up still enjoyed themselves.

“I just like seeing things blow up — probably like everyone else,” said Matt Beil of Whitehouse. “It was impressive.”

But Rebecca Martinez of East Toledo, who like Mr. Beil had been to both implosions, said the first one was more impressive.

“There were two of them [stacks], so they had two explosions,” she explained.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.


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