Taking a closer look at other options for old Mott Branch library

Taking a closer look at other option for old Mott Branch library
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 6:47 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A Toledo radio station almost called the former Mott Branch library on Dorr Street home.

13abc is learning more on the controversy over the new plans to put a health clinic inside the former library. We’re hearing from the other organization that wanted the property, a Black-owned business which the owner says would have been a better fit.

There is one part of this story that people who didn’t grow up in this particular part of town don’t understand. The old Mott Branch library means a great deal to the community, especially the African American community. It’s called a crown jewel -- that’s partly why people are so passionate about it.

The signal and sounds of the Juice 107.3 radio come through loud and clear on Dorr Street and they almost originated from the former Mott Branch library.

“I inquired when it was still a library,” says Debra Hogan, president of Fleming Street Communications and WJUC 107.3 radio.

Hogan has for many years sought to relocate the Juice there. She submitted a proposal but eventually Compassion health, which already has one clinic in south Toledo, was chosen to add a second clinic there.

“It’s like we’re being hoodwinked again on the process. It’s the process that people are not happy with,” said Hogan.

Dorr Street used to be a business and cultural hub for Toledo and specifically the African American community. Now as people talk about revitalization, Hogan wonders why a Black-owned business wasn’t selected.

“That’s not what the community wants. They would rather see in their community a Black business. Why would the first thing you put on Dorr street to revitalize the community be a white business?” said Hogan.

Some Toledo city council members voiced concerns this week about the project, which was approved by a committee comprised of African American members, approved by the entire city council and a contract has been signed.

The concern is the city’s point person on the project once served on compassion’s board, which committee members say they were not aware of. Sandy Spang, the city Commissioner of Business Services, says she did in fact notify the committee about her former board position.

Hogan has no issues with compassion health or its mission. She’s concerned with the process getting here.

“You’re pretty much stifling the whole... even if someone doesn’t have a vision... in order to bring that to pass you put in there a white business that the community feels is a duplication of services and you give them a jewel for one dollar after you overlook an African American business that you should support,” said Hogan.

When compassion was awarded the property, there was an ask to compassion to work out an agreement for the Juice to be able to use at least part of the building.

Hogan says they’re tried but so far have not been able to work out an agreement on how that would work and how the use of the space would happen.

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