As of Wednesday, two smokestacks are down in East Toledo, and the tallest one remains.
It is one promise that Mayor D. Michael Collins’ kept — telling East Toledo residents at a town hall meeting that on July 16 two smokestacks from the razed Acme power plant in the Marina District will come down.
“When I went over and we had an introductory going to the National Museum of the Great Lakes, and not that I had not seen it before, because that wouldn’t be true, but with all that investment that was there and what was left — three smokestacks and rubble. The place still looks today like Stuttgart, Germany in 1947,” Collins told about 150 present at the East Toledo Family Center-hosted town hall meeting last month.
|Down they go
Portions of Front Street and the
Marina District were closed as
smokestacks from the former
acme power plant were
demolished last Wednesday.
The public got a view from East
Toledo as explosives brought
the two stacks down in a cloud
of dust and debris. Left: Mayor D.
Michael Collins and State Rep-
resentative Mike Sheehy watch
“There is only one way to describe it — it looks like it was bombed out,” added the mayor.
Now, the mayor has a vision. He wants to see the remaining smokestack developed.
“What I would love to see happen, and I think we can get private partnerships with this, meaning more than one, I envision a lighthouse sitting on that top,” Collins said. “Close your eyes and think about that for a second.
“You’ve got the Veteran’s Skyway (Interstate 280 Bridge) illuminated with LED lights and when the High Level (Anthony Wayne) Bridge is done, I’ve got a commitment from ODOT that they are bringing LED lights on that bridge. And, as you’re sitting there in East Toledo, a lighthouse on top of a smokestack, won’t that be cool?
“That’s my dream and I want my dream to happen. It’s not for me. It’s for the City of Toledo. As they travel north and south on 75 and they see that lighthouse rolling in the evening, what will that message be to people who are coming through this area? ‘Hey, that’s a pretty cool place. That place looks like they’ve got it together.’”
He says the taller stack remaining has to be illuminated because of federal aviation regulations, and it is estimated to cost about $18,000 put the lighthouse on top. The idea for a lighthouse came from talking to a board member of the Great Lakes museum earlier the same day he held the town hall.
Additional demolition work will continue at the site after the implosion, it is not expected to impact traffic or access to the National Museum of the Great Lakes or other surrounding homes or businesses. Mayor Collins promises that the rubble from the demolition Wednesday and from the power plant demolition will be cleaned up in a timely manner.
“We’re going to take the smallest of the three smokestacks, because the height of those smokestacks requires us to illuminate it, and believe me, this is something I’ve got to watch — they are going to go out there with a crane and shave it off,” Collins said.
“Now, I would not want to be that crane when they shave it off, but they tell me they can do it, so they can do it. But, it will be cleared out before Labor Day. It’s absolutely has to be done.”
Refractive lens on way
The Great Lakes museum closed for the razing of the smokestacks Wednesday, and museum public relations director Anna Kolin made sure she was there to witness the explosions.
Kolin says she personally likes the idea of putting the lighthouse on the smokestack, even though it would be a city undertaking.
“We’ve had a number of just passing conversations with them dealing with this, including about the dropping of the smaller ones (smokestacks),” Kolin said.
“Bill Burkett, who is commissioner (for economic and business development) For the city of Toledo, is kind of spearheading the whole project,” Kolin continued. “He and I had a conversation about it, and there is a lot of stuff that has take place before that can even be taken into consideration.
“On a personal level, I think that would be fantastic. It would be like the bow that would top off that whole area. But, it’s not us, it’s a city property and all it is, is an idea. It won’t be a functioning lighthouse because boats down the river don’t need one. The Maumee River is not that big. Personally, I think it would be absolutely beautiful.”
Last week, it was announced the museum will receive $27,000 from The Andersons Fund Supporting Organization of Toledo Community Foundation to relocate and install a Second Order Fresnel lighthouse currently at the former museum site in Vermilion. However, this is not the lens that will go on the smokestack.
“It’s actually a refractive lens. It’s one of only eight Second Order lens left that are complete on the Great Lakes,” said Kolin. “It’s a full lens. It’s over six feet tall and we’ve owned it for a while. There are a few other ones, but they have missing pieces to them, but this is a whole, complete lens.
“The grant we received from the Anderson’s foundation is enabling us to transport it here, and it’s only a portion of the funds that we need to be able to do it. It’s quite an undertaking and there are only a couple people that the Coast Guard has deemed qualified to deconstruct, move, and reconstruct and clean to get it back into condition and show it.”
Kolin says the entire cost to move the lens from Vermilion to Toledo and prepare it for showing is estimated at $57,000.
Kolin says since the museum reopened at its new Toledo location last spring, memberships have increased to the Great Lakes Historical Society, which operates the museum.
“We’re doing really well,” Kolin said. “For the first calendar year, April through March, we had an expected budget anticipating 500 new memberships and we are well past that in two months. So the memberships are flying out the door. People are coming in like crazy. They say, ‘Build it and they will come’ and they really do. The reception has been fantastic.”
Events coming to the museum include the Marina Mart on August 9. The museum will host vendors to sell photographs, books, and other nautical paraphernalia.
On August 23-24, the Toledo Antique and Classic Boat Show will feature the U.S. Brig Niagara. The brig is an historical reconstruction of the vessel U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry sailed on during the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
On September 20, the museum will host its annual music fundraiser, “H2OH! Making Waves,” which includes an outdoor clam bake. For information call 419-240-5000, visit the museum on Front Street, or visit www.inlandseas.org.