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Published: Tuesday, 10/2/2001

Mall helps voters shop for mayor

Unnoticed during citywide cackling last week over Ray Kest's name-calling outburst (he pronounced eight council reps “stooges”), the mayoral candidate made another remark of actual importance.

Some on council, said Mr. Kest at the same press conference where he made his now-infamous remarks, “are anti-development and obstructionists in moving the community forward.”

Unsure precisely what Mr. Kest meant, I asked him.

“I'm thinking that we have some members who have projected an anti-development agenda, and because of my relationship with many of the businessmen and developers of Toledo, I know they find it easier to develop outside Toledo than jump through the hoops and play the politics that need to be played in the city,” he replied.

Which projects might he mean?

He cites South Toledo's Plaskon project, the controversial Secor Road Home Depot, “and I think there could have been more accommodation made for the project on Alexis.”

And which Alexis Road project would that be?

“I don't know, the recent project that Benchmark's trying to develop.”

Given that Mr. Kest knows the name of the developer but not the particulars of the developer's project, maybe it's no surprise that the unendorsed Democratic candidate favors the controversial Fallen Timbers Mall.

In a city where concern about sprawl is rising, this proposal is a handy litmus test of candidates' attitudes toward development issues.

In the case of Mr. Kest, the man who would be Toledo mayor wants the next mall in suburban Maumee.

His opponent, endorsed Democrat Jack Ford, doesn't.

To Mr. Kest, the mall would benefit Toledo because of an agreement that forks over 40 percent of its income tax revenue and, he adds, “what else is important is that it will be in Lucas County, and Lucas County will be getting the sales tax ... My fear is if the mall is not built there, it will be built outside Lucas County, which will seriously impair [Toledo and Lucas County] revenues.”

Explaining his stand, Mr. Kest sounds just like the county treasurer he is.

But being mayor of a medium-sized city might well demand a greater scope of vision and thought than a county treasurer's gig.

That Fallen Timbers could well kill off what's left of Toledo's nearby Southwyck Mall doesn't faze Mr. Kest, who says Southwyck can be reinvented for education or business.

Listen now to Mr. Ford discuss Fallen Timbers:

“Why would we build another mall to the detriment of one that's already struggling? All you're doing is relocating low-income jobs anyway so it's a double whammy: take low income jobs to Maumee, and second, move out those who were in Toledo,'' Mr. Ford said.

‘‘It's a ripple effect, because if folks get jobs there, they'll want housing closer to work, and the rapid exodus out of Toledo will only continue.”

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at roberta@theblade.com or call 1-419-724-6086.



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