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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -
The past and future were celebrated Wednesday during a special dedication ceremony at the site of the former Jeep plant in north Toledo.
The Willys-Overland Company put Toledo on the map years ago. On Wednesday, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, along with other community leaders, dedicated the park to people who have worked on the site over the years.
The ceremony not only celebrated the heritage of auto making at the former Jeep Parkway site, but also paid homage to future redevelopment at Overland Industrial Park.
For Jeep retirees who came to the event, it gave them a chance to catch up with people they've worked with for decades.
"A lot of history here. Being a Toledoan all my life, this is all I knew, and Jeep is a great part of it. My mother retired from here. My brother retired from here. So we've got a lot of history here," said Dwight Petty, a Toledo Jeep retiree.
Many enjoyed reminiscing together.
"I worked in the press shop. I was a tool and dye maker. I stayed there my whole 30-and-a-half years and it was great. It was wonderful. Super people. Super supervision. We had a good time," said Ed Grabowski.
The old plant is gone and the environmental clean-up has been completed. With new roads and utility lines being constructed, the goal is paving the way for new job opportunities.
"The Jeep plant that's 2 miles down the road is going to build a half million cars next year, which will make it the largest assembly plant in North America. And the opportunity to make this to be a supplier park or a stamping plant operation for Chrysler is phenomenal," said Bruce Baumhower UAW Local 12 president.
For the past three years, the port authority has been working to redevelop the site. It now has control and plans to redevelop more than 80 acres. So far, the port authority has two commitments at the new industrial park: Airgas will build its regional operation center, and developer Ed Harmon will put up a spec building. Vertical construction is anticipated in October.
"It's good because Toledo needs this. We need this. Toledo needs more back into it. I've done my part, now for our young people, an opportunity for them to keep it going," said Petty.