Written by: Jeremy Baumhower
I have been asked by numerous people if I was going to watch the house at 704 Federal Street get demolished today.
The short answer is.. No.
In case you are not aware– this is the place where Baby Elaina took her last breath and where a community united in hopes of finding her.
I wrote a column last year demanding the city raze the dwelling and suggested a Memorial Park be put in its place. I even had a local demolition crew who contacted me to offer their services free of charge.
I am glad the razing of this specific house became a priority and is getting done sooner than the usual 3-4 year wait time– I am also perfectly fine that there will be no park. The reason why I am now okay with the lack of a memorial is because nothing good happened at this location while this child was alive.
It was one of the ugliest chapters in our city’s history.. filled with Cable TV Networks exploiting an East Side family and a death of a child for a real-life pro-wrestling inspired drama.
It has been 391 days since the Toledo Police Department pulled a box out of the garage that contained a toddler’s badly decomposed body.
Nothing good has happened since… Elaina’s Mother and her ex-boyfriend have received life sentences for the part in her death. Elaina’s father was arrested earlier this year for domestic assault, for choking and slapping his new girlfriend.
Although the residents of Toledo know what happened at 704 Federal Street, the razing of this property becomes just another number in our fight against blight.
I will not be there to see a house get torn down–it shouldn’t be a celebration. A bulldozer was created to destroy things, so other pieces of equipment can come and pick up the mess.
There isn’t a piece of machinery that will be able to raze the memories of this story from our minds nor pick up the mess.
The one moment we should hang onto is how that zip code and neighborhood came together to help a family in need. That was an inspiring moment.
Even in the worst of scenarios– Toledoans are there for each other.
Everyone who walked that neighborhood knew the outcome wasn’t favorable, yet they continued to walk. That says something about our character, about how we choose “hope” and positive outcomes over quitting and giving up.
Baby Elaina shouldn’t be remembered by her death, nor her life– because it wasn’t good. She should be remembered forever for doing something that had not been done in a long time– she brought people together.
Elaina reminded people the power of “community”. She gave that block a shot at redemption, to show us and the world the size of it’s heart.
In her death, Elaina gave that neighborhood a second life. Let’s hope its not razed.