Until the right development deal is found for the Marina District, At-Large Toledo City Councilman Joe McNamara wants the site maintained “in a sustainable fashion.”
“We are very optimistic about the future of this project,” McNamara wrote in a memo to Mayor Mike Bell last month. “This beautiful new vista will one day be redeveloped into an amazing new neighborhood in the heart of Toledo. Waiting for the right proposal to present itself is the responsible course for this asset.”
The city, he continued, should explore short-term urban agriculture uses in the Marina District.
Urban agriculture could provide four major benefits to the Marina District:
• a productive use of city property;
• soil improvement;
• erosion prevention;
• beautification of riverfront property.
“We really need to do something to deal with soil erosion issues between the road and the river, and so some sort of short-term agricultural project makes sense. It also helps with beautification, which makes it more attractive should a developer come along to do a traditional development deal,” McNamara told The Press last week.
“Additionally, certain types of plantings (phytoremediation) could actually mitigate environmental issues and improve the soil quality,” he said. “Certain plants remove metal from soil. And right now, the Marina District has basically commercial grade soil. It’s shovel ready for commercial development, but you couldn’t do residential because the soil has some issues with it.”
Increasing the soil quality adds to the value of the land and creates new potential uses for redevelopment,” he said.
A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) could provide the city with a partner who could accomplish the benefits at low or no cost, said McNamara, who is vice-chairman of the city’s Economic Development Committee.
“Issuing an RFQ would cost the city nothing. The whole point of RFQ is to see what partners are out there who are interested in urban agriculture,” he said.
“There’s over 100 acres. We have a very rich, growing community in northwest Ohio. We have farmers, the Maumee Valley Growers Association, the Earth Science Foundation – there’s a lot of different people who are out there who are involved in different types of green initiatives. If we can partner with one of them to maintain or improve the asset until time for redevelopment, that’s a responsible use of a taxpayer asset.”
Mayor Bell has not yet approved of the proposal, said McNamara, though a meeting is planned to discuss the matter further.