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Attempt as a college town: Pass or fail

An IC columnist majoring in mechanical engineering at UT

Published: Thursday, September 15, 2011

Updated: Thursday, September 15, 2011 03:09

The University of Toledo Foundation has finally broken ground on the Dorr Street project to create a collegiate utopia for our university. It's a multi-million dollar project designed to create a "college town" atmosphere at UT.

The University of Toledo has been improving itself these past few years. Several renovations on campus have been completed.

The Dorr Street project is great for UT students and addresses an issue that has been hurting UT -- Toledo is not a college town. The city of Toledo is a blue- collar, manufacturing city that happens to have a great university. Toledo was once a manufacturing powerhouse with strong automobile, glass and shipping industries.

Toledo's unemployment rate for July 2011 was 10.2 percent, a percentage that was above the national average.

Like many other mid-western rustbelt cities, Toledo's prime is long gone. Our university cannot create a "college-town island," independent of the rest of the city.

UT is situated on Toledo's western border, a few miles from the downtown area. Depending on which direction you take from campus, you can see two economic extremes of Toledo. Ottawa Hills is the high-end neighborhood sprinkled with the occasional mansion. South and East regions of UT are lower class and can be a dangerous area to walk alone in.

Muggings and break-ins happen even when precautions are taken. Students can benefit from Toledo's economic situation by taking advantage of its low cost of living. Toledo is affordable and has some gems, including our zoo, art museum and minor league teams.

Although, Toledo does have things to do, many are not close to campus. I think that the quintessential college town should have everything near campus. A student could visit the food venues on Dorr Street, which consists of your standard, un-inspired fast food fare.

Toledo has a few bars and restaurants scattered around campus as well. You could walk to Jed's, Jax, and Chasers, but it can be unwise to do so unless you're in a group. I try to ride my bicycle in Toledo as much as I can. The sidewalks, however, are incomplete or poorly maintained. The city lacks dedicated bike lanes that make it easy and safe to navigate on a bicycle.

Toledo drivers are not used to bikes in the street, so they often just honk and speed past. Lights on bikes and helmets are not the norm, nor are they considered "cool."

One good route that is accessible is the bike track that starts on campus and takes you to Wildwood Metropark, a great escape for students from their stressful class schedules.

UT understands that a world-class university can raise the quality of the entire community, acting as an incubator for new and local businesses. Northwest Ohio has been designated as a Solar Energy Hub partly due to UT's work in solar cells.

Toledo has been moving green with new recycling efforts and urban gardening.

These new industries keep jobs and knowledge local. The only way to create a better community is by working at the one we have. I have been very happy at UT and feel it's a great place to go to school. The Dorr Street renovation project is a move in the right direction.

Toledo should continue to develop and control the area around campus. I would like to see Toledo become more bicycle friendly in the future.

A bike path from campus to downtown would make the area more accessible to students.

UT improves Toledo with its presence, but it'll probably fall short of transforming Toledo into a college town. That won't keep Toledo from returning to the great city it once was. 

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