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A community compromise

Chronicle Guest View

September 27, 2017
By Troy Harris , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

As a supporter and participant in the arts, I would ask the new owners of our Toledo community building to consider merging it with the theater as an Arts complex. There is ample space for dressing rooms and a upper floor to utilize for dance venues, choreography, rehearsals and exercise. In addition to dressing rooms, the bottom floor lends itself to theater offices and rental for community functions serving the citizens of Toledo.

Progressive communities often combine two or more buildings into a super complex or super block. The two buildings are sometimes connected to an atrium, glass enclosure or outdoor patio that enhances the community with vibrant life. Perhaps street lamps, benches or unique landscaping could be placed between the buildings to unite them as one entity. Even a walkway with bricks could recognize those who contribute to this project. As for parking we have many empty spaces available on High Street and other side streets.

Are there any visionaries out there who can realize the potential these two buildings have for our community as one complex serving many? Consider contacting Hobart Restoration in Cedar Rapids, IA or any another company who has the financial clout and resources to help. I have spoken with them. Hobart graciously took on the Otterbein complex some time back. Money is out there. in speaking with citizens of Toledo there are many who would contribute to the restoration of the community building who will not contribute to the Theater. It is worth it to check it out. It would also provide some emotional healing that our community so needs. Most citizens do not want the community building destroyed. They are the silent majority but they count.

Any wise investor knows not to put all your eggs in one basket. Today's youth are plugged into Itunes and Ipads rather than opera houses and live bands. The Karaoke machine and the DJ guy has forced conventional performing arts to scramble to find new marketing plans to save their theaters and symphonies. The community building is a multi-use facility and lends itself to weathering cultural changes. It may well be the Ace in your hand not to discard.

As a professional musician and music collector, I own thousands of pieces of sheet music and artifacts. I have thought of one day creating a themed music museum and library, regionally serving several counties as a valuable resource to teachers and a tool for tourism. This would compliment a fine arts complex and serve in an effort to give back to my home town. However, if the mentality is to tear down and destroy rather than preserve, what incentive do I or anyone else have in giving back... when the treasures we now have are not respected or appreciated?

In place of a new high school theater auditorium to replace the Little Theater, a renovated Wieting Theater has been considered as the alternative for our community. Perhaps it saves the taxpayers money. Perhaps not as some may consider it a backdoor form of taxation. Either way this shows unity and compromise to one common goal. Our town needs rebirth and restoration. Bulldozing scars a community's emotions and heritage. Please consider the continued compromise to keep and unite these two buildings as one. On many levels it is a win-win for everyone.

Troy Harris is a native of Toledo, owns a home here and currently works in the Quad Cities.



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