THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo
A static stone in East Toledo gathers moss and apparently one police officer.
Even with gun violence spiking at the beginning of June and two shooting murders over the holiday weekend, the fear of possible vandalism against a large rock with painted Chinese characters at the Marina District property — bought by Chinese company Dashing Pacific Group Ltd. — prompted the city to assign a police officer who stood watch throughout Friday night and early Saturday morning.
Jen Sorgenfrei, spokesman for Toledo Mayor Mike Bell said the officer also was guarding a tent set up by Rudolph/Libbe Cos. for a ceremony Saturday.
“There were no specific threats received, but since the property was still owned by the city on Friday when the event [was] set up ... the city would have been liable for any damages that may have occurred,” Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
Vandalism was an “eventuality we sought to avoid and took appropriate measures to prevent,” she said. The site included the rock, a tent, stage and Allied Waste dumpster, she added.
Ms. Sorgenfrei said the city considered hiring a private security firm, but did not because the Bell administration anticipated that the police patrolmen’s union would have grieved that action.
Dashing Pacific Group completed its $3.8 million purchase of part of the Marina District when Mayor Bell signed off on the sale Saturday morning. Wu Kin Hung and Yuan Xiaohong, the two members of Dashing Pacific who purchased the 69-acre piece of land, unveiled the rock during the event that included speeches and lunch.
The ceremony included Ms. Yuan’s traditional Chinese dedication of the rock, which she said symbolized the investors’ commitment to the city of Toledo and its future.
“The rock symbolizes the steadiness of our friendship,” Ms. Yuan said through a translator. “We will give the rock to Lucas, the elephant that was just born at the Toledo Zoo.”
Andi Norman, zoo spokesman, said Wednesday the rock had not been delivered yet.
Rudolph/Libbe Cos. has an agreement with Dashing Pacific to be the contractor on the $200 million to $300 million project at the site.
Councilman D. Michael Collins, a retired police officer, objected to the guard duty.
“When I found out they had officers there guarding the rock all weekend I thought that was a misuse of police officers, particularly with 555 officers available to the city at this time,” Mr. Collins said. “We are using significant overtime and calls for service this weekend were astronomical with two homicides and eight shootings.”
He said communication between the mayor’s office and police patrolmen’s union would have avoided a potential grievance.
Police Chief Mike Navarre said it is not unusual for police to safeguard property or crime scenes.
The chief said officers were also assigned to be at the event.
“This was not just a rock,” he said. “A tent was set up and … a lot of times we would ask for crews to keep an eye on it but there was some concern there could be some damage before this event Saturday.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at: