A long-debated proposed land swap between the city of Toledo and Toledo Public Schools took an odd turn on Tuesday when one councilman questioned why no one was told the former Leverette Junior High School had been burglarized and vandalized last year.
Additionally, Councilman D. Michael Collins claimed a mobile police surveillance camera placed at the old Leverette, 1111 East Manhattan Blvd., had stopped working and missed recording the crime in October, because “no one bothered” to put gas in the generator that powers the camera.
The proposed land swap is supposed to end a flap over renovating the home of the local Police Athletic League.
The Toledo Board of Education voted Tuesday night in favor of the deal with the city that would trade the former Leverette gymnasium for Optimist Park, which is along Front Street and in front of Waite High School.
Toledo City Council could vote on the deal next week.
“At some point, [the camera] ceased to operate,” Mr. Collins said during council’s agenda review meeting Tuesday. “Computers were stolen and I have come to find out the building was stripped of copper. ... There was never a mention we have a significant issue with it being the victim of a crime.”
He said the damage would cost about $240,000 to repair.
Deputy Mayor Shirley Green said Mr. Collins had some of his facts wrong and took umbrage with Mr. Collins’ inference that the Bell administration’s plan to spend $250,000 renovating the building for the PAL had anything to do with the break-in.
Ms. Green said the mobile camera’s generator was in fact fueled, but had stopped working because of a computer problem. She also said it was not positioned where it would have captured the break-in.
TPS spokesman Patty Mazur said the break-in actually occurred at “portables” at the site, not the building, and that no copper was taken. A police report taken after the incident, however, mentions copper was removed from the portables, but listed its value as unknown.
The Toledo Police Department wants to use the old Leverette gym, which is all that remains of the former school, for its Police Athletic League activities, such as boxing, volleyball, and baseball, for at-risk youths. The building needs about $250,000 in repairs to have heat and electricity, Ms. Green said.
Authorization of that $250,000 expenditure has been held up since several councilmen raised concerns about spending money on a building the city did not own.
The transfer also would be beneficial for the school district because Optimist Park is a prime location for Waite, Ms. Mazur said.
"We can ensure the upkeep of the property. The school’s alumni association is discussing the possibility of installing a softball field on the site, [and] the cost to maintain Optimist Park is estimated to cost TPS less than it currently costs the district for maintaining the old Leverette site,” Ms. Mazur said.
City Council is to consider the proposed land trade on April 30.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.