Spring renewal in Toledo … finally?Written by Kevin Milliken | | email@example.com
Who would have thought that a simple, sunny, 60-degree day could make you long to grab a rake and shovel and go outside for a sweaty session of yardwork?
Yet, I find myself yearning for some “dirt therapy,” just to end the extended cabin fever Mother Nature has imposed on all of us. A shot here and there of wet snow and bitter wind kept many looking out the window, wondering when they would see green again.
Heck, my neighbor didn’t bother to wait, mowing his lawn in a 20-degree wind chill during the weekend. While the cold, brisk air sent many scrambling back inside to meet the tax deadline, he was hunkered down at the steering wheel, bundled up and driving his mower like a Daytona 500 driver to finish as quickly as possible.
A brief warm spell in March brought the daffodils out early in my front yard, only to see them frosted and frozen, bent and apparently broken.
Yet, along came a little sunshine and warmer weather just when I thought they were lost, a depressing sight walking out the front door each morning. They showed resiliency and perked up again, their bright yellow blooms reaching back toward the sky — a sign of remarkable renewal.
Opening Day for the Toledo Mud Hens provided a similar sense of renewal for Downtown Toledo. In between gray skies, snow and cold, the sun peeked out and it got warm for that one special day — the start of another baseball season at Fifth Third Field.
On a Friday afternoon when most people are scrambling to leave Downtown from work for the weekend, it was hard to find a parking space. Many returned for an afternoon of fun and friendship, to soak up an atmosphere that raises everyone’s spirits.
Volunteers from charities put up tents for fund-raisers, business owners threw open their front doors and, for at least a day, that section of Downtown Toledo looked again like the vibrant heyday our older residents remember so fondly.
Cities across America have spent countless millions trying to recapture the magic of a bygone era, trying to restore downtown areas. Toledo’s leaders have a similar vision, hoping to create more spring days like Opening Day.
A long winter of budget battles showed a hard, cold reality that exists — a city bent and broken in many ways, like those daffodils were. That reality will likely temper that vision in a big way. Projects on the drawing board for years — the old Edison steam plant and others — show little, if any movement.
Multiple millions worth of private investment must be found to turn drawing board dreams into the community treasures nearly everyone hopes will happen in the coming years. Opening Day each spring provides that hope for renewal.
Can our community leaders and the Larry Dillins of the world convince corporate titans and local investors to put their dollars into those dreams? So far, it’s been an expensive struggle to keep what we have.
Build an arena, add a riverfront park — and the hope is they will come: investors, builders, residents and visitors. The time has arrived to get out more shovels and rakes and start digging for those dollars — anywhere they can be found.
The last thing anyone wants is Toledo to become somewhere people drive through on their way to someplace better. Whether that’s already happened is certainly open for debate.
Spring came better late than never. The daffodils survived, and so will Toledo. The hope of a renewal is here, too. It could just be a bad case of spring fever, but let’s hope not.