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Published: Wednesday, 4/9/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Mayor breaks tie, allows academy at former YMCA

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins broke his first tie since being sworn in Jan. 2. City Council had voted 6-6 on a special-use permit. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins broke his first tie since being sworn in Jan. 2. City Council had voted 6-6 on a special-use permit.

Mayor D. Michael Collins broke a 6-6 tie Tuesday to allow the Horizon Science Academy to convert the YMCA/​JCC of Greater Toledo office and fitness center into its charter school on Summit Street in North Toledo.

The tie-breaker was Mr. Collins’ first since being sworn in Jan. 2.

The YMCA has an agreement to sell the property next to the former Riverside Hospital to an education-management company that operates Horizon for $830,000, but Horizon has said it would step aside if the YMCA decides to sell to Toledo Public Schools.

The mayor said the application meets the requirements for a special-use permit.

“I was moved by arguments from both sides,” Mr. Collins said before adding, “The special-use permit goes to the land and not the end user.

“I must follow the law and the law is very clear,” he said.

The city’s law director warned that bias against charter schools could not justify the permit’s denial, and a lawsuit would result.

Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson, one of those who opposed the permit when council deadlocked on the issue March 25, said she understood the mayor’s position. “I was on the ‘no’ side, but I was torn and didn’t know how I was going to vote until I actually voted,” she said. “I understand all the ramifications of it.”

The YMCA board has given Toledo Public Schools a letter of intent and is seeking a response by the end of the month, according to Brad Toft, the Y’s president and chief executive officer.

Toledo Public Schools would operate the building to house a Head Start program and other services for children starting as young as infancy. The school district is the lead agency in an application to take over a Head Start program and offer “cradle to career” services.

Horizon plans to move an existing K-8 school from the Secor Building downtown to the site at 1500 N. Summit. The permit was approved by the Toledo Plan Commission in February.

In other action Tuesday, council approved an expenditure of $1,050,000 to widen a storm-water culvert across Raceway Park, off North Detroit Avenue.

Robin Whitney, the city’s public utilities director, said the enhanced capacity of Silver Creek would improve drainage between Lewis Avenue and Telegraph Road south of Alexis Road and remove 45 homes from the designated flood plain. Flood insurance in designated flood plains often costs about $1,000 a year.

About half of the money comes as a grant and a loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission. The other half will come from the city’s stormwater utility, funded by city property owners.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.

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