Pounds: Won not doneWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kudos to Toledo City Council for approving — by an overwhelming majority — ProMedica’s proposal to move its headquarters Downtown.
With the 11-1 vote Jan. 20, the project has cleared perhaps its biggest hurdle, but much more work remains. There is still more discussion to be had, more agreements to hammer out. Now is the time to keep this momentum and spirit of cooperation moving forward.
Next, ProMedica and the city must agree on a development contract, expected by April. Judging by issues brought up at recent Council committee meetings, topics likely to be considered include whether and what kind of minority inclusion, park restoration and grounds maintenance provisions might be added.
The main players may be busy moving forward, but some opponents are still looking back. The sticking point for many green space advocates is ProMedica’s plan to build a six-story parking garage on part of Promenade Park, and the vote has quieted but not ceased calls for alternate parking options. Many, including Judge James G. Carr, aren’t convinced ProMedica fully considered other options. There’s talk from others of collecting signatures to try and put the issue to a vote.
After the Jan. 20 meeting, Robin Whitney, ProMedica’s vice president of property acquisition and development, told Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Sarah Ottney that she hasn’t given up hope of convincing skeptics.
“I hope one day when we get this project done they’re going to like it,” she said. “That’s really still my goal. I think we’re going to be improving the park and really making it an amenity and I believe that we can still do that. I haven’t given up hope that I can get them converted and be supportive of what we’re doing.”
Some may never accept the loss of green space, particularly to a parking garage. But ProMedica would be wise to take the time to fully and transparently address those lingering concerns and try to put those questions to rest. As Carr said during last week’s Council committee meeting: “Persuade me.”
On the flip side, I haven’t seen this many business and community leaders united in excited over a development in a long time. Mud Hens/Walleye President and CEO Joe Napoli, Fifth Third Bank President Robert LaClair, Steve Cavanaugh of HCR ManorCare and Richard Hylant of Hylant Group are just a few of the longtime Downtown stakeholders who testified to Council that the deal was the most exciting thing they’d seen come along in decades.
Officials with the Downtown Toledo Improvement District and Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce both report an uptick in interest in other Downtown properties. “We keep hearing it will be a trickle-down effect when they move Downtown; I really think it’s going to be a roaring cascade effect,” Cindy Kerr, executive director of the Downtown Toledo Improvement District, told Ottney. “I already see the needle moving.”
After their Sugar Bowl victory, Ohio State players donned T-shirts stating “Won not done,” claiming laurels for the accomplishment while also acknowledging their next challenge: the title game. Millions of Buckeye fans watched that game through their fingers as OSU seemed determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with a series of fumbles.
Let’s not fumble now.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.