Cowboys ride againWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
The proposed deal to salvage part of the Libbey High School campus represents a great compromise, but opens many questions about funding and ultimate purpose.
After months of tireless campaigning by a group led by Sue Terrill and Warren Woodberry to keep the Libbey preservation effort in front of elected officials and the media, Toledo Public Schools (TPS) and the City of Toledo have found common ground on saving part of the facility.
That is quite a turnaround from a March 4 meeting at which Mayor Mike Bell and TPS Superintendent Jerome Pecko were adamant that there was no interest in saving Libbey.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur facilitated discussions with Owens Community College and the University of Toledo. Kaptur has hoped any future use of the Libbey complex would have an educational component.
The poor treatment of the group trying to save Libbey has been a sour note throughout this conversation; there did not seem to be a great deal of respect or even willingness to truly hear the group’s concerns. This new proposal is a great stride toward recognizing the preservationists’ efforts, but some disturbing questions remain.
Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said one of the conditions of the deal, in which TPS would loan the city the money to purchase the athletic facility and skills center part of Libbey, was that the property could not be offered to a charter school. It is widely understood that TPS does not go out of its way to make things easy for its charter school competition, but such a condition seems especially acrimonious and churlish.
There is, of course, the question of funding. Neither TPS nor the city is flush with cash. With estimates of $1 million just to install a heating and air conditioning system in the Libbey facility, there could be a great deal of expense facing organizations that do have any cash to spare.
There is also no agreement about who would own the land the main building is on once it is torn down; would there be a vacant TPS-owned lot bordering the city-owned building?
There will be a meeting at 1 p.m. May 3 to discuss more details about the proposal. While it is encouraging to see cooperation and the possibility that some of the Libbey campus may be saved, the financial and usage concerns raised by councilmen Rob Ludeman, George Sarantou and Tom Waniewski need to be directly addressed before any action is taken.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.