Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins, a candidate for mayor, wants to bolster neighborhoods – by working with residents to clean them up which will, he said, make them safer – to make the city more attractive for business development.
The neighborhood revitalization plan was announced today at an afternoon news conference outside the closed West Toledo police substation, 2330 W. Sylvania Ave.
“A city that isn't clean and a city that isn't safe is no place economic development will work,” Mr. Collins said.
The plan includes a restructuring of the Department of Neighborhoods – a reduction of management by 25 percent, hiring four additional code-enforcement inspectors, changing work assignments and using new technologies to increase inspector productivity, increasing nuisance-abatement enforcement by 40 percent, and creating a code-enforcement task force to recommend changes to nuisance-abatement procedures.
“We're going to do it in a civil way,” Mr. Collins said of shifting personnel. “We're not just going to throw people out of the door.”
Mr. Collins said his plans would not require any additional funding, but would call for reallocation of funds.
A part of Mr. Collins' plan focuses on public safety and crime.
The public-safety platform includes hiring an additional 40 police officers every September for four years – the duration of a mayoral term.
Officers would no longer receive random nightly assignments, but instead would be designated to a particular beat to get to know residents and the problems that particular neighborhood faces, Mr. Collins said.
Currently, there are officers with assigned beats, but a portion of crews work in “reserve” assigned nightly to different areas on an as-needed basis.
Mr. Collins also said he would reopen the shuttered Northwest District Station within 90 days of taking office and after any necessary repairs are done to the structure.
The West Sylvania station formerly housed the sex crimes unit, which is now located at the downtown Safety Building since the substation closed last year.
Mr. Collins said the sex crimes unit, an expanded domestic violence unit, and the traffic bureau would all work out of the substation.
The Toledo Police Department has one domestic violence detective; Mr. Collins said he would increase the unit to three detectives which would, ideally, grow to five before the end of a first term.
The councilman also introduced a concept called “Tidy Towns.”
The program would be part of Block Watch and have individual neighborhoods and the development corporations within them, have a more active role in cleaning up the blight – like mowing lawns and cleaning up trash.
More communication, Mr. Collins said, is needed between residents and the city to make such an effort work.
“I believe that if you tidy up a neighborhood, you've sent a message to the criminal element,” Mr. Collins said. “Maybe it's subliminal, but we're saying this stuff isn't going to go on around here because we don't support it.”