A majority of Toledo City Council members has voted to spare Collins Park Avenue in East Toledo — at least until its residents get answers.
Council voted 8-4 to freeze what has not yet been committed of $700,000 that was appropriated for buying up houses on that street, in order to tear them down. Council members previously authorized the Bell administration to use that money to buy homes near the Collins Park water treatment plant for a planned expansion of that facility.
But residents rightly argue that before a neighborhood is destroyed, it ought to be shown that the city genuinely needs the land for what it proposes to build. If there is a plan, they say, tell us why we need to give up our homes and street. You owe us that much.
City officials concede that so far, there is no plan for a rebuilt water plant. Taking Collins Park Avenue is a matter of keeping one option open.
Council was responsive and responsible to cut off the money spigot until there is a solid plan. Yet Mayor Mike Bell vetoed the council’s freeze.
That’s hard to understand. Most people on Collins Park are not saying “hell, no, we won’t go” for any reason or need. They simply say their street is worth more to them, and to Toledo, than what city government might want to do.
It’s a small amount of land and an odd configuration. It’s hard to believe a new water plant depends on taking these homes. But if it does, it is not too much to ask for the city to demonstrate this and to work with the neighborhood.
At a hearing this week, Collins Park residents said it again: Come up with a plan and work with us. Councilman Shaun Enright, who represents the affected neighborhood, led council in the vote for the funding freeze. He deserves credit for putting citizens ahead of bureaucratic whim and executive will.
Mr. Enright and his constituents seek respect and accountability. If they can get one more favorable vote on the council, they will win a little of both.
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