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The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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In April 2014, the National Museum of the Great Lakes opened along East Toledo’s Maumee River front next to the Toledo Maritime Center and the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship.

A feasibility study commissioned by the Great Lakes Historical Society and the port authority found that between 41,000 and 60,000 visitors will visit the museum annually. At a combined admission and per visitor store purchase figure of $12.50 per person, 41,000 visitors would generate about $500,000 annually for its operations. Total annual revenue, including membership, endowment and charitable giving, and grants are estimated at $1.225 million with expenses estimated at $1.075 million.

The museum, which moved here from Vermilion, uses original artifacts and images coordinated with both low-tech and high-tech interactive experiences to tell the story of the Great Lakes. The experience is to be both educational and entertaining. Paul LaMarre III, the director of the Monroe (Mich.) port called it the “Smithsonian of the Great Lakes.”

It is only fitting that it is in the port of Toledo, which is commonly referred to as the capital of the lower lakes, anyways,” LaMarre said. “But, this project has come a long way and has overcome many hurdles to bring together many assets of maritime history and culture to present the total package to future visitors.”

Museum public relations director Anna 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.

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Tyler Buckley prepares for the opening of the historic Eastwood Theatre, which began
showing discounted second-run movies last year. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)


Public arts, festival
Led by LeSo Gallery and community leaders, the first phase of a public arts project along Main Street was completed in July.

First, 18 cement trashcans and eight planters were transformed from dull, gray cylinders to bright and creative works of art stretching along Main Street in East Toledo.

Next, Owens-Illinois employees volunteered with the East Toledo Family Center and the LeSo Gallery to paint and add color to benches and bus stops along the same corridor. The project was a partnership between LeSo Gallery, the East Toledo Family Center, the East Toledo Club, and volunteers from Owens-Illinois.

Then, 19 murals were painted by nine artists, including local eighth-graders, at 813 Starr Ave. on a building that a year ago was a public eyesore.

LeSo, Frankie’s, Mainstreet Bar, and other Main-Starr corridor businesses held an entertainment and arts festival Sept. 13, which included two stages featuring live bands. Main Street was blocked off between Front and Fourth streets.

Also playing a role was the East Toledo Club, which provided funding for the supplies for the bench project. Roger Dodsworth, an assistant director at the Family Center, says the East Toledo Club has money to offer to other groups wishing to complete beautification projects on Main Street.


Eastwood Theater re-opens
The 90-year-old Eastwood Theater on East Broadway was reopened by South Toledo-based Cornerstone Church.

Now, it’s back as a church, and a theater running discounted second-run movies, but new Eastwood Theater outreach coordinator Josh Harnegie says it can have more uses — mostly to address community needs.

“We can have town hall meetings, we can have community organizations come in, and do that kind of stuff,” Harnegie said. That’s what we want this to be, because proximity is going to be key in East Toledo. People don’t want to go nine or 10 miles to watch a movie.”

Two multi-purpose rooms in the back are available for businesses or community organizations to hold break-out sessions or to use as classrooms. The stage can be used for live theater for community groups and public and charter schools without access to auditoriums.

Harnegie says the renovation included some of the old mixed in with the new, such as LED green sensitive lights, a digital projector and performing arts style seating. The movies are delivered on a specially coded digital hard drive to protect licensing, just like first-run movies are today, and the entire production is run on an Apple iPad.

Its history includes 60-years plus providing movie entertainment to the community, which is more than any other theater in East Toledo. After it closed as a family friendly movie theater, it ran adult movies until 1985, and from 1993-2004 was used by Cornerstone Church for services.

Soon after it re-opened in late July 2014, Cornerstone mobilized over 300 volunteers, local businesses and organizations to reach thousands of community members by throwing a block party complete with a free meal, music, dances, games and prizes.


Neighborhood beautification
It remains to be seen what impact the passing of Toledo mayor D. Michael Collins will have on a neighborhood beautification program he planned.

Modeled after the Tidy Towns program the late mayor witnessed while visiting Ireland, it was to come to Main Street this year.

The program includes clean-up of streets and storefront window facades, getting control of signage, decorating streets with floral displays, and “a change of culture and attitude,” the mayor said. The Main Street corridor was to be the second neighborhood to begin the program, following Point Place, where it began last year.

Collins said by getting neighborhood business involved in the clean-up and beautification process, they can also become sponsors, which in turn helps the businesses. Once the program begins, he said it will be up to neighborhood residents and business leaders to keep it going.


Home demos continue
It may sound more like destruction, but a wave of home demolitions in East Toledo is considered progress.

Once a second wave of demolitions by the Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) is complete, over 150 razed homes will no longer blight neighborhoods in East Toledo’s 43605 zip code, considered Zone E by the land bank.

In 2014, the land bank was awarded a $6 million grant from the Ohio Housing Financing Agency, the second-highest total of 11 land banks statewide receiving a combined total $49.5 million to tackle blighted communities. That provides funding for a second round of home demolitions.

The land bank is a community improvement corporation designed to strengthen neighborhoods throughout the county by returning vacant and abandoned properties to productive use.

About 60 homes were demolished during the first wave, and a second wave already underway will bring at least 96 more, says One Voice for East Toledo leader and East Toledo Family Center community builder Jodi Gross.

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