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Published: Wednesday, 7/25/2012

PAL facility's future unsure

School officials weigh demolition of quarters


The need to reroute utilities to local Police Athletic League facilities as part of demolition of the neighboring Leverette Junior High School has PAL officials worried about the future of their operations there.

PAL's facilities in an annex to the school are tentatively planned to be kept when Toledo Public Schools demolishes the rest of the building as part of its 20-year, state-supported campaign to replace outmoded buildings with modern schools.

But school district officials now are considering whether they should terminate the police organization's lease and raze the entire structure at 1111 E. Manhattan Blvd. -- which would qualify the project for 77 percent state grant funding -- rather than pay the cost of rerouting electricity and other utilities into PAL's quarters.

Officer Robert Britt, the athletic league's supervisor, is to meet today with Shirley Green, Toledo's deputy mayor of public safety and personnel, to discuss alternative arrangements for utilities and whether a move may be in order.

Ms. Green said the goal of today's meeting is to ensure that PAL remains sustainable.

Alan Konop, the president of the PAL board, said the preferred outcome is a continuation of the organization's lease for its current quarters.

"We put a lot of time, effort, and money into that building. A lot of police officers volunteered their time to help put that building together. It's necessary to stay as is," he stated.

The Police Athletic League moved into its Leverette facility, which features classrooms, locker rooms, and a gymnasium, five years ago from the University of Toledo's Armory Building.

The move coincided with increased enrollment in league programs, and Mr. Konop said the Leverette location has been very convenient for participants.

Police officers and civilians volunteer to coach sports including boxing, volleyball, and baseball, as well as serve as tutors for Toledo youths.

The nonprofit program's motto, "Filling playgrounds, not prisons," provides a summary of its goal: to use athletics and mentoring to reach out to underserved youth and to forge a connection between law enforcement and teenagers.

While not disputing the PAL's value to the community, James Gant, who as TPS' chief business manager is responsible for overseeing the district's building leases and demolition plans, said the Leverette decision will come down to money.

If a full demolition is less expensive, he said, "we cannot forgo those dollars."

Leverette is among the last of 20 buildings TPS plans to demolish as part of its school replacements and consolidations.

Many have already been torn down.

Contact Jessica Shor at: jshor@theblade.com or 419-724-6516.

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