Shortened smokestack demolishedWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
The last of three smokestacks at the former Toledo Edison Acme power plant in East Toledo is gone — almost.
Cleveland-based B&B Wrecking knocked over what remained of the third stack last week and is slowly chipping away at the rubble.
“The site is being cleared,” said Joel Mazur, assistant chief of staff for Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins. “It will take them a while to hammer out that concrete. The base was reinforced with a lot of rebar. But a year from now it will look better than it did a year ago today.”
Once the concrete is broken down, the site will be graded, covered with dirt and grass planted, Mazur said.
Demolishing all three stacks wasn’t what was originally planned for the site. Two shorter stacks were imploded in July and the city planned to shorten the remaining 297-foot stack in August, retaining about 100 feet for historical preservation purposes. However, the implosion left jagged brick and when it was evened out, the stack ended up around 75 feet, including its 48-foot concrete base.
Although the resulting height was still within the project’s planned scope, which called for an end result of 75 to 125 feet, many felt the shortened stack looked too short, Bill Burkett, city commissioner for economic and business development, told Toledo Free Press at the time.
“We knew there was a possibility depending on how that stack fell that there could be some additional damage,” Burkett told TFP after the implosion. “It looks a little short, we know that.”
The two implosions, along with cleanup at the site and the historic preservation of a guard house structure, was funded by a $475,000 federal grant awarded to Toledo by HUD Economic Development Initiative grant received in fiscal year 2009. The scope of the original project called for retaining a portion of one stack along with the guard house at the front of the site as historical preservation.
In September, the city received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to demolish the rest of the stack if it chose without jeopardizing the HUD grant used to fund the historic preservation project.
“The consensus was aesthetically we did not meet the preservation goal of keeping enough brick,” Burkett said in September.
At the time, the city, with input from other groups including the Marina District Architectural Review Committee and the nearby National Museum of the Great Lakes, was working to decide whether the leave the stack as it is, turn it into a lighthouse motif as has been suggested by Collins or tear it down.
The decision to demolish the remainder was made in mid-November, Mazur said.
“The structure was just too compromised,” Mazur said. “After great debate and much consideration, we decided that for the sake of the property and for the development of the property, and the maritime museum and everything around it, the best thing to do be would take the rest down.
“We didn’t make this decision in a vacuum,” he added. “We contacted other agencies and organizations and heard what they had to say. Everyone weighed in on it.”
Oklahoma-based Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp. was contracted by Cleveland-based B&B Wrecking by the City of Toledo to perform the implosions. A week after the implosion of the third smokestack, B&B Wrecking returned to the site to even out the remaining brick to a uniform height. B&B Wrecking is performing the current demolition.
The architectural review committee had wanted to save more than the city’s proposed 100 feet.
“There was a preference to keep the stack a little higher if possible. It was more in keeping with historical appearance and function,” City Plan Commission Director Thomas Lemon told TFP in September. Lemon, a member of the five-person committee, which reviews developments in the Marina District overlay, has since retired.
Lemon also said the committee was generally not in favor of Collins’ idea to turn the remaining stack into a lighthouse motif.
“I think the ARC would prefer it maintain more of the original look of it as much as possible,” Lemon told TFP in September.
The city initially estimated the demolition of the remainder of the third stack to cost $40,000, but Mazur said the cost was reduced to $10,000 through negotiation with B&B and a closer look at the company’s obligations as laid out in the original contract.
The $10,000 was covered by funds remaining in the existing HUD grant, Mazur said.
“We were able to complete the project in the confines of the amount allotted to us by HUD,” he said.
The future of the land, which is owned by the city, is still unclear. Dashing Pacific has the right of first refusal for any development on the property.
The guard house, which had its roof replaced and windows boarded up, has been preserved for possible future use and is the last remaining structure at the site.