Where Are They Now? — T-Town Ideas, RIP

. August 14, 2018.
Photo courtesy of The Toledo Blade.
Photo courtesy of The Toledo Blade.

Remember Tidy Towns?

Of course you don’t. It was a silly idea, approximately as forgettable as its name. It had something to do with using Block Watch groups as litter patrol. Former Mayor D. Michael Collins came up with it on a vacay to Ireland and wanted to implement it here in the Swamp.

His early demise eighty-sixed the idea before it ever got off the ground. Which is probably the best outcome for the idea— allowing us to avoid the embarrassment it would likely have caused. Toledo has never been particularly tidy, before or since.

You Will Be Smaller in Toledo

While Tidy Towns lies in a deserved trash bin, what of Collins’ other Big Idea? Well, to be fair, it wasn’t really his idea. It was presented to him by local hipster artists. But to his credit, Collins recognized a good idea when it slapped him in the face.

Back in the early Twentieth Century, when Toledo was one of the larger cities in the U.S., city leaders decided to tout its status as a major transportation hub with a flashy sign high on the skyline. “You Will Do Better in Toledo” was born.

The original sign is long gone, but not forgotten. Collins was asked to resurrect the slogan, and the sign, as a modern day clarion call. Brilliant!, said Collins. And he immediately set about placing tiny, nearly illegible re-creations of the original sign at entry points to the city, replacing the boring “Welcome to Toledo” alternatives.

Not satisfied with these ill-designed attempts, supporters wanted more, namely, a large electronic version of the sign at some prominent location. Talks began, considering funding, design, and location. A signature, iconic piece seemed to be in the offing.

Then it all petered out. What ever happened to the idea? No one seems to know. All we’re left with is the memory of what might have been, plus those teentsy weentsy street signs. Oh, and the inexplicably blue version of “You Will Do Better in Toledo” on the side of the old Easystreet Cafe on Washington Street.

Proving ground

This seems to happen all too often here in T-Town. Folks have a good idea, announcements are made, momentum builds, then it falls apart. And no one knows why.

Take the old Holiday Inn on Summit Street. The artist’s rendition of a proposed renovation was tremendous! We are regularly told renovation is imminent. Yet it still sits as an empty concrete shell. Or the Security/Nasby Building at Madison and Huron. Amid great anticipation, a renovation of the historic building was announced last year. Yet it still sits empty and unattended. The construction season is fast drawing to a close. And don’t get us started on the failed pile of bricks formerly called the Pythian Castle.

And the Lorraine Motor Hotel on Jefferson is no closer to being a downtown luxury hotel than it was when they were still renting rooms by the hour.

Meanwhile Southwyck continues to languish, and no one in leadership seems to notice. Ditto Northtowne.

Here’s our prediction. One of these days, a Big Announcement will come about re-use of one of these two eyesores. There will be beautiful artist’s renditions, and maybe even a ground-breaking. Then it’ll all likely fall apart.

Given all of the above, we propose a different slogan for Toledo. One that better captures the unexplained failures of too many good ideas.

“Toledo. We’ll believe it when we see it.”