TOLEDO (WTOL) - For nearly seven years, neighbors of the Junction Coalition have worked on a master plan to revitalize their neighborhood. Now, the City of Toledo has adopted their master plan into the city’s vision for 2020.
"Listen, I cried and laughed so often last night,” Alicia Smith, community liaison for the Junction Coalition, said on city leaders’ decision January 9.
Many have memories of beautiful homes and businesses lining the avenues where vacant houses and lots now sit. The new plan focuses on bringing peace, environmental justice, social justice, and economic justice to the neighborhood.
An amphitheatre will soon fill a field at the intersection of Junction and Nebraska. It's all a push from neighbors in the Junction area to take back their neighborhood from crime and blight.
"I think it will be a lasting effect on our youth growing up. When they see this, maybe when they see this, they can have the decency or the courage to keep it going, and understand that it was their elders that started this,” Robert Rivers, Junction Coalition president said.
Besides reducing youth crime, neighbors want their young people to come back to the neighborhood after college with new skills and education.
Neighbors of the coalition worked with the Toledo Design Center for three years to finish the plan. The plan will preserve the neighborhood's culture, building it back up without gentrification. It will give the 42 black-owned businesses in the area a new lease on opportunity.
"We went down in history because we got past how hard it was. We hung in there because we know this day was gonna come,” Erema Blakely said, owner of the Dollar Fifty Store on Nebraska Avenue.
“What used to be on Dorr Street, what used to be on Junction. No longer do we have to use the word ‘used to” we can say 'what will be on Junction for our community, our children, and our business owners,’” Smith said.
Neighbors said the National Parks and Recreation Association as well as the City of Toledo will be giving them $60,000 to see this master plan through. In the next five to ten years, the central Toledo neighborhoods of Nebraska, Junction, Detroit, and Indiana will look very different.
Leaders and community members say we can’t bring people back to Toledo and revitalize our neighborhoods if they’re not safe.