(The following notes were originally posted at ToledoTalk.com at this link.)
At least 60 people crammed into the place, including Keith Wilkowski and Larry Dillon.
At the start of the meeting, the main speakers were realtors, or whatever they're called, who sell downtown housing. Four or five people spoke about downtown Toledo, the image problems, lack of promotion, making parking free, getting rid of most of the one-way streets, entertainment, blah blah blah. The usual stuff we here about downtown living. Nothing worth taking notes about.
Anway, at 6:15 Carty enters. These New Urbanism meetings are scheduled to run from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., but they usually don't last that long. But with Carty speaking, they'd be lucky to finish by Midnight. What a windbag.
Now, remember, the focus of the New Urbanism group or meetings is downtown Toledo. The guests tonight were indicative of that. Same with the guests at previous New Urbanism meetings, although the Toledo Grows people back in November spoke about concepts that included more than just downtown.
I'm not sure if Carty was asked to speak tonight or if he crashed the meeting. I didn't know he'd be there. Whatever.
Carty was given the floor, and he launched into Westgate. In my opinion, he hijacked the meeting and abused the meeting's real intention, so he could continue to rally support for his regime.
I had one hell of a time biting my tongue while Carty got fired up. I couldn't sit still in my chair. I couldn't help shake my head and roll my eyes at the crap Carty was spewing.
The thing is, after Carty's diatribe about Westgate, no comments or questions were permitted from the rest of us. We couldn't respond to what Carty said. I felt like blurting out, "You're full of shit, Carty" but I might have been banned from the Downtown Latte, since Carty is a valued customer there.
One time last summer, I was in line behind Carty at the Downtown Latte. He paid for his frozen drink or whatever it was with a $100 bill.
Anyway, again remember, New Urbanism is about downtown Toledo. The leader or moderator of the meeting was trying to get the discussion back to downtown Toledo. He was trying to involve the realtors so Carty would talk about downtown and not Westgate. So I chose to respect the purpose of the meeting and not derail it the way Carty did.
At tonight's meeting, Carty said Costco would be out of business at Westgate in 15 years. He said that's what happens with these big box stores. He said all that will be left at Westgate will be an empty parking lot. I'm not sure what info he's basing those claims on. Maybe it wasn't something he found while surfing the 'Net. He didn't give any examples of Costco going out of business in 10-15 years.
He attacked Holland, of course. On multiple occasions he mentioned that the Westgate issue will be debated among City Council on Thursday at 3:00 p.m., and Carty was trying to get people from tonight's meeting to show up at the Council meeting on Thursday and show support for Carty's idea. He was slumming for supporters.
Multiple times Carty referred to the success of Levis Commons while pointing to Larry Dillon who was in attendance somewhere. If permitted to comment, I would have said what an illegitimate comparison that is. Levis Commons recently announced a $150 million expansion on top of what's already been built and spent there versus the Westgate redevelopment which is only $35 million.
Carty mentioned Southwyck and Dillon's idea for that. Proper comparisons to Levis Commons are Southwyck and the Marina District not Westgate, which is a little shopping area and in the grand scheme of things, a bit insignificant.
If permitted to comment, I would have asked why are county officials and money involved in this Westgate debacle? Why would Waterville, Whitehouse, Maumee, and Sylvania give a damn about Westgate in Toledo?
Carty blathered on about the Walk Westgate and 20/20 plans and that urban village feeling. Again, if permitted to comment, I would have aksed why weren't these ideas incorporated into the zoning codes? Actually, I thought some had been put into the zoning codes. In order to survive, Westgate will need a lot more than people walking to it.
Carty kept bringing up Levis Commons. Well, how many people walk to Levis Commons? It's in a farm field. Again, another reason why it's not valid to compare Westgate to Levis Commons. On many occaions, Holland has said that if she was building in a farm field, she would have no issues with Carty's ideas. But her space is limited and constrained on all four sides.
Before Carty showed up, there was some discussion about downtown parking. Someone who spent many years living in Boston and is now living in Toledo said the problem is Toledoan's don't know how to park. And that may be true. But when Carty talked about the Walk Westgate concept, I would have said, the problem isn't that people don't know how to park, the problem is Toledoans don't want to walk anywhere. I would have brought up Carty's fitness program he mentiond in the state of the city speech.
Toledoans want to park as close as possible to the door of the business or the Mud Hens stadium. I don't pay to park when I go to a Mud Hens game because I simply park a few blocks away. It's not a killer walk. We don't want to walk. Only a handful of people will walk to Westgate.
I voted in November, but I skipped the mayoral selection. I wish now that I had voted for Ford. Listening to Carty makes me want Ford back in office.
I had to leave at 7:00 p.m. Before I left, the meeting host was finally able to get the conversation back to downtown Toledo, and when I left, Carty was droning on about young people, and who knows what.