Editor's note: Updated to reflect Mr. Ball making canceled checks accessible.
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Mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins fired back Sunday at a series of attacks leveled at him by downtown Toledo developer David Ball in a full-page advertisement that ran in The Blade.
“I believe Mr. Ball has represented in his full-page advertisement in The Blade my ability to look at business ventures in a very false light,” Mr. Collins said.
The ad came two days before the hotly contested race between Councilman Collins and incumbent Mayor Mike Bell was to be decided by Toledo voters.
Mr. Ball’s paid political advertisement enumerated what he claimed were lies or other kinds of misstatements made in a series of recent political forums by Mr. Collins. Mr. Ball owns the vacant Water Street Station Steam Plant downtown and is a supporter of Mayor Bell for re-election.
“We are deeply committed to downtown revitalization and become very concerned when a mayoral candidate makes reckless, untrue statements,” Mr. Ball wrote on behalf of the company of which he is president, STS Management Inc.
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Mr. Ball’s complaints refer to criticism that Mr. Collins has leveled against Mayor Bell’s relationship with Mr. Ball and Mr. Collins’ complaints about the stalled steam plant project on the city’s waterfront.
“The record clearly speaks that Mr. Ball has been disingenuous as to the future of this property and is very concerned that should I be elected to the office of mayor on Nov. 5, that I will hold him accountable,” Mr. Collins said.
The full page, attention-getting ad on the back of the paper’s A section took aim at Mr. Collins on several fronts.
Mr. Ball claims that “not one cent of taxpayer money was spent on the project EVER,” contending that the money spent to preserve the building until the development could move forward was money provided for that purpose by Toledo Edison when it gave the building to Toledo.
However, Mr. Collins claims that money was taxpayer money because it was given to the city with no strings attached.
Mr. Collins also disputes Mr. Ball’s claim that he has personally paid $258,000 in county taxes on the property since 2008. Property records for the steam plant show $207,607 in unpaid property taxes as part of the $254,663 that is currently owed.
Mr. Ball on Sunday night disputed Mr. Collins’ claim that he was in arrears on the steam plant property, saying that “every cent due is paid. I’m not a day late.”
He said when he and his partner took over the project, they fell behind in the property taxes, but took advantage of a county program to clear up the delinquencies over a five-year period.
“The payment plan is paid exactly to date,” Mr. Ball said.
Mr. Ball today turned over copies of canceled checks made out to the Lucas County Treasurer’s office for the Steam Plant property going back to 2008 and totaling about $258,000.
Mr. Ball, in his ad, also claimed Mr. Collins misspoke when he blamed the steam plant project for the end of Friday night concerts in Promenade Park, which Mr. Collins referred to as Party in the Park.
According to Mr. Ball, “Party in the Park” had ceased years earlier with the closure of Portside.
That may be true, but a successor event, called Rally by the River, occurred sporadically on summer Friday nights until several years ago when the concerts ended.
According to Mr. Collins, the concerts ended because of the expectation that construction would begin soon on Water Street Station.
In April, 2012, Mr. Ball announced plans for a $16 million project that would become a YMCA, a University of Toledo health clinic, and 67 market-rate apartments.
Mr. Ball expected to have completed construction by this year. Mr. Ball, whose downtown Toledo historic redevelopments include the Ohio Building, the Gardner Building, and the Hylant Building, teamed up with former Ohio State and NBA basketball player Jimmy Jackson to obtain the 1895 steam plant from the city in 2005.
In 2007, the city filed a lawsuit demanding that Mr. Ball’s and Mr. Jackson’s firm, Water Street Station Development LLC, start development work immediately or return the property deed to the city. Mr. Ball refused, citing the local housing market’s downturn as the reason for the delay. Later that year, he pared back the project’s plans and subsequently cut ties with Mr. Jackson.
The suit kicked around for a few years without being resolved under Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and was dismissed in 2010 when Mr. Bell took office.
He said the suit was a burden on the city and he wanted the building to become a taxpaying property.
Mr. Collins claimed Sunday that Mr. Ball managed to keep the case from being heard in court until Mr. Finkbeiner was out of office and that he supported Mr. Bell because he believed Mr. Bell would dismiss the case.
“Water Street Station was acquired by him in 2005 with no investment provided. He received it from the city free,” Mr. Collins said, referring to a development deal that took place under former Mayor Jack Ford.
“While I’m not a lawyer, I had reviewed all of the files and spoke with lead counsel and I was of the opinion at that time that the city could have prevailed [in the case],” Mr. Collins said. He contends another developer would have been able to move the project forward.
Mr. Ball said the city’s law department pushed to dismiss the suit, calling it a frivolous lawsuit the former mayor had filed to “motivate” him into completing the project.
“The law department was telling Carty it was a frivolous lawsuit,” he said, adding that he filed a counter suit against the city that was subsequently dropped when the city agreed to dismiss its suit against him.
“I didn’t need any motivation” to move on the steam plant project, Mr. Ball said.
In his ad, Mr. Ball said Mr. Finkbeiner’s lawsuit “had no merit.”
Mr. Ball said Mr. Collins has yet to call him regarding his proposed riverfront development and faulted him for “not doing his homework.”
“Mike Collins has never once called me and asked for an update. That is the basis for his platform? Communications with small businesses? And he doesn’t call me?” Mr. Ball asked. “That’s absolutely ridiculous that he won’t do his homework.”
Mayor Bell did not immediately return phone calls Sunday night seeking comment.