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Toleod Community Building needs to stand

April 6, 2017
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Build upon what you have." This sage advice rings true more than ever today it seems, in rural America's small towns.

What does not ring true is the plan to sell the Toledo Community Building, demolish it and build some type of addition for the Wieting Theatre on the site. This move is set for public hearing and a decision on Monday, April 10, by the Toledo City Council. Based upon the previous 4-1 vote involving the move of the city clerk's office, it looks like it could be a done deal.

What apparently started out as a two-council member study committee emerged somehow with a plan which changes the direction of a dressing room addition to the Wieting to the demolition of the Community Building and a new Wieting addition built on the site.

Thrown out are the long-time site of the senior meals program, mobile meals pick up site, Chamber of Commerce office and Pam's School of Dance. As noted, it has already been voted to move the City Clerk's Office to the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center by July 1. This move anticipates the Tama County Economic Development Office will also be out of its location there.

Unanswered, but supposed, the Toledo City Council Chambers will also relocate to the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center.

It is simply hard to imagine any small town would abandon a cornerstone of it's historic downtown district.

But that's what we could be headed for here.

No Healthy Lifestyles Center serving the elderly.

Nowhere for mobile meals pick up.

No location for Pam's School of Dance.

No location for the Tama-Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce Office.

No location for Tama County Economic Development Office.

An inconvenient location for many for the City Clerk's Office and likely the City Council Chambers.

Loss of another draw to the downtown district.

Marshalltown is reported to be wrapping up a study for future use of the Coliseum in downtown Marshalltown. While the verdict isn't in, bets are it won't be to tear it down.

You can't go backwards, live in the past, but you can learn from history. Not that long ago, Tama had two downtown hotels operating, brick streets, two historic depots, and a main street full of retail.

The hotels were torn down, the brick streets ripped out and the retail, by-and-large, faded away.

In Toledo, efforts to retain downtown have included restoration of the Toledo House Building, Wieting Theatre, historic Fire Station as a private home as well as a new fire station and remodeled police station on the west side and public library addition.

Tama has had an ongoing downtown redevelopment program in the works for years offering low-cost loans and no-cost aid for downtown building improvements.

Admittedly, the year 2000 gift of the former Tama Pack property to City of Tama and the subsequent sale providing the cash was a factor.

Tearing down one of the anchors does not seem a good solution to preserving historic downtown Toledo as well as continuing to offer services there.

-J. Speer



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