Baumhower: Make Second Chance Park for Baby ElainaWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My heart sank as I read a text message that the Toledo Police were executing a search warrant at 704 Federal St. My heart broke minutes later when I received another text stating, “Coroner confirms human remains found in box.” I had came to a logical conclusion in June that Baby Elaina was probably dead. I am a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I was holding onto a glimmer of hope that it was a custody thing; maybe she was alive, possibly staying with a distant relative or friend.
It looks like I was wrong. Evil happened.
We now know the ugly truth. Baby Elaina’s life ended too soon.
Officials reportedly found her in a box in the detached garage where Steven King (Elaina’s mom Angela Steinfurth’s ex-boyfriend) and his family reside. This residence has been the centerpiece of countless search parties, prayer vigils and national media attention. This home, with its feces-covered floors and that stained mattress, is now burned into the permanent memory of everyone who has seen that video. I do not live on that street or in that neighborhood, but I am tired of looking at that rundown property. I’m tired of seeing people sitting on that porch.
The house and garage at 704 Federal St. need to go. We need to level this property as soon as possible. We as a community need not be reminded of the evil that took place behind those walls. We need to tear down this house. We as Toledoans need to raze 704 Federal St.
In its place, where this baby took her last breath, let’s build the most beautiful park for small children in our city. Let our city and especially this neighborhood be reminded of her memory with smiling children’s faces being pushed on swings or going down the biggest slide. Give this neighborhood a chance to show the same character it did when it came together and unselfishly searched every day for this missing baby, a child many had never met. Build a park that each resident will protect the very way they tried to protect Elaina. Give them a place as a reminder of what they did in that block and that community’s darkest hour. Replace the sounds of prayer vigils, bickering amongst neighbors and TV interviews with the sounds of children playing.
For those of you wondering how we can make this happen, there are a couple of choices. The prosecutor in Cuyahoga County struck a deal in the plea agreement with Ariel Castro that immediately gave the county power to raze the house where he kept three women captive for a decade. Lucas County prosecutors can broker a deal with the King family, especially with as much obstruction as the authorities have dealt with.
According to AREIS, the family is already $7,377 behind on property taxes. Taxes are currently set at $508 annually, which means they are approximately 14 years behind. This gives a couple of different options right away.
Elected officials and lawyers can be very effective in a time like this, but it will take the same financial support that the community showed when Elaina first disappeared to make this park a reality. I am willing to spearhead an online campaign, via crowdtilt, to collect the monies needed to both raze this property and build an amazing park. I will lobby every department of government looking for matching dollars and whatever other resources are needed, but I’ll need your help. Would you be willing to give as little as $1 to tear down the epicenter of evil and replace it with a symbol of Toledo’s humanity?
This family and this neighborhood have suffered enough, have cried enough, and have seen this house more than enough.
With your help and with your voice, we can remember forever Baby Elaina smiling, a memory that can be fulfilled with the smiles of other children going down a curvy slide, holding a parent’s hand and playing at a park.
It’s looking like we will not find Elaina the way we dreamed we would, in a way where she would have received a second chance. We can give this land a second chance. We can give humanity a second chance.
The residents of East Toledo deserve Second Chance Park.
Find Jeremy Baumhower on Facebook or Twitter @jeremytheproduc.