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Published: Friday, 8/14/2009

Toledo mayoral candidate outlines South Y aid plan

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mayoral candidate Jim Moody yesterday presented a multipronged finance plan for saving the South Toledo YMCA from closure and called on Y officials to meet with residents.

"This YMCA is a cornerstone of the community," said Mr. Moody, a Realtor running as a Republican. "This discussion should not - and for me, is not - about operational strategies, compensation, or direct interference. It's about meeting the needs of a community, exploring potential options available, and simply getting answers to questions that have a right to be asked."

To keep the Y branch open, Mr. Moody suggested moving the Veterans Service Commission and the Veterans Business Resource Center from their quarters inside The Source near downtown Toledo to space in the branch building.

The two organizations could then pay as much as $80,000 annually combined in rent to the YMCA and Jewish Community Center of Greater Toledo, strengthening a branch balance sheet that Y officials say runs about $200,000 in the red each year.

Because the state recently eliminated funding for its Early Learning Initiative, a child-care program for low-income families, there would be space in the Woodsdale Park Avenue building for the veterans.

Mr. Moody said the YMCA needs to begin a fund-raising campaign for operations and capital improvements at the branch, and pledged to make the first donation.

Finally, he called on the Y to make deeper budget cuts of its own to help save the branch.

"Whether it be an elimination of car allowances, salary freezes, or whatever," Mr. Moody said at a news conference in the South Toledo YMCA parking lot.

Mr. Moody said he would present his written proposal to the YMCA and the Lucas County commissioners. He said he had yet to discuss this particular plan for the Y building with the heads of the two veterans organizations.

Mark Brunsman, YMCA vice president of association services, issued the following response to Mr. Moody's plan later in the afternoon:

"After his last press conference on August 6, 2009, we invited him, as well as any other professional politicians who have constructive ideas regarding how best the YMCA can serve the South Toledo community, to contact us to discuss them. To date we have not been contacted."

Lee Armstrong, executive director of the Veterans Service Commission, said any decision to move his agency must come from the five veterans service commissioners and three county commissioners.

Later in his remarks, Mr. Moody called on Y officials to meet with South Toledo residents and fully explain why they are closing the branch. Mayor Carty Finkbeiner this week announced an Aug. 19 public meeting regarding the property with leaders of CedarCreek Church, but it is unclear whether YMCA officials will attend.

"Every person that has ever written a check as either a [YMCA] member, or for the scholarship fund, is a de facto shareholder - and sometimes you have a shareholder meeting," Mr. Moody said.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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