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Published: Wednesday, 6/26/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Council takes back $700,000 from Bell’s use

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A majority of Toledo City Council voted Tuesday to take about $700,000 out of the Bell administration’s control.

Council had previously authorized the administration to use that money to buy homes near the Collins Park water treatment plant for a planned expansion of the East Toledo facility. Councilman Shaun Enright, who lives in East Toledo, introduced legislation to rescind the uncommitted portion of that funding.

Public Utilities Director David Welch said the city has purchase agreements with the owners of 408, 428, and 662 Collins Park Ave., but the city needs to buy up to seven more homes. The homes’ prices range from $50,000 to $71,000, he said.

Council voted 8-4 in favor. Tom Waniewski, Mike Craig, Paula Hicks-Hudson, and Adam Martinez cast the dissenting votes.

Mr. Enright said neighborhood property owners have not been told of the plan for the water-plant expansion, mandated by the Ohio Environment Protection Agency. He accused the Bell administration of destroying a neighborhood, and said taking the money away was a “last resort.”

“We tried to get the administration to tell us what the plan is. We have mad chaos out there.”

Mr. Welch said council’s action and its insistence that he reveal expansion plans will drive up the houses’ cost.

Councilman Steven Steel told council he knows a property owner who had not intended to sell but felt compelled by the thought the city might seize houses by eminent domain. Bell administration officials said they have not threatened eminent domain and have no intention of using it.

Council scheduled a committee meeting next Tuesday on the plan.

Council also voted 9-2 to spend $50,000 to expand to citywide a text-alert crime monitoring program used now in West Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood. Lindsay Webb and Mr. Steel voted no while Mr. Waniewski abstained.

After the meeting, Mr. Waniewski revealed he is a stockholder in Tele-Home LLC, the company that got the city contract. Mr. Waniewski had presented the legislation and previously pushed for approval.

Ms. Webb said the concept “seemed solid” but preferred that the contract was competitively bid. She was unaware until after the meeting that Mr. Waniewski has a financial stake in Tele-Home, which was not involved in the pilot project set up in Old Orchard.

Also Tuesday, council voted 8-4 to spend $347,000 on a compost turner. Voting no were Mr. Steel, Ms. Webb, Mr. Enright, and D. Michael Collins.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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