City of Toledo, TPS propose plan for Libbey campusWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The proposed plan may save Libbey High School — at least part of it.
Toledo Deputy Mayor of Operations Steve Herwat announced plans April 26 to save Libbey’s Field House, skills center and football stadium, while the remaining portion of the school would be torn down.
“It is a unique opportunity with Toledo Public Schools (TPS). This would give the community the opportunity to maintain this facility for future use,” Herwat said. “We have no intent or desire to acquire the main Libbey High School building, which will be demolished.”
“It would be great for that community and I think it’s long overdue,” Councilman Adam Martinez said. “I don’t think we have anything like that in the City of Toledo where you can do soccer, football, basketball and the other types of sports activities.”
Herwat said the plans would require a $1 million loan from TPS to the city with half to be paid back during the next three years. Those plans have been accepted by the Toledo Board of Education and will be discussed on the next City Council meeting at May 3.
“Right now we don’t have any hard projections,” Martinez said. “We are just kind of assuming $1 million but it could be less or it could be more depending on once we actually get into the nuts and bolts of the project.
“We want to make sure that we have community input, to make sure that we are being fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ dollars in doing this. We can actually preserve the building, it makes sense to preserve the building and hopefully to create a sense of pride in that area.”
Herwat said it will probably cost between $800,000 and $900,000. The loan would be utilized to install a heating and cooling system so the building could be used year-round. Toledo would also be required to pay a fee for the buildings, although Herwat said it would be a nominal fee of $1.
Herwat mentioned a few of the plans for the new property. The Field House is being entertained as a site to host winter basketball youth games while the stadium has been discussed as a possible location to partner with the Mid-City Football League.
Although some have shown concerns about the city spending $1 million, activist Warren Woodberry, who helped save Scott High School and has been a vocal proponent for preserving Libbey, said he is not concerned about the seven-figure cost in poor economic times.
“That’s like saying the hospital supplies are running out, so let’s not buy Band-Aids and blood plasma,” Woodberry said. “If you look at the bigger picture, it’s a $1 million investment to save a whole community and to put the city in a better positive light and in position to get grants. That’s not counting the fact the facility can produce income and find jobs. Just to look at that one figure and holler and scream about it, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Woodberry said this decision could tremendously impact the neighborhood after losing both the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA.
“It’s an active community,” Woodberry said. “There are thousands of homes and you look left and right and there’s nothing to do. They are moving the Boys & Girls Club across Broadway by another school. They tore down the YMCA. The park has four swings. There are thousands of homes there and they have four swings. People have that in their backyard. There just was no logic there. The swimming pool has been closed for years. They are just begging kids to come out and join gangs.”
Although recent events have supporters of Libbey optimistic, everything still hinges on approval by City Council next week.
“We are celebrating the portion of the battle that we have won,” Woodberry said. “We are not out of the woods yet, but we do know where the clearing is.”