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Published: Thursday, 4/11/2013

Kids, not politics, first

The Police Athletic League is widely admired across the nation because of what it does for at-risk young people. In Toledo, the program helps a lot of kids.

PAL offers an alternative to the streets — boxing, volleyball, and baseball, with coaching and counseling by police officers. Its motto is: “Filling playgrounds, not prisons.”

Regrettably, PAL has become a political football in Toledo. Mayor Mike Bell’s administration wants the City Council to allocate $250,000 for improvements to the gymnasium of the former Leverette Middle Schools.

When Toledo Public Schools demolished the rest of the school last year, the district honored the city’s request to keep the gym intact for PAL, The city is in the second year of a five-year lease of the gym and locker rooms, for $1 annually.

Councilman D. Michael Collins questions the proposed use of money from the city’s parkland replacement fund to pay for the rehabilitation. He says the money should come from dollars dedicated to law enforcement activities. The city is short of recreation money and struggles to maintain its parks, Mr. Collins says. He also objects to the city investing money in a property it does not own.

Neither proposed source of funding seems ideal; city parks need money, and the police department needs more resources of every kind. But Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat says the city is looking for another funding source for the PAL project.

The issue of who owns the Leverette property is moot. Under a nearly completed deal, TPS will transfer ownership to the city. But ownership was never the point. The property needs to be repaired to be fully functional. It deserves the city’s investment, because PAL does.

The main thing is to support PAL, not to sabotage it. Kids who need help, not political posturing, should come first.

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