Stepping back from his earlier disapproval, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said Thursday he would not oppose a “blight authority” proposal made by members of City Council.
The mayor initially opposed the plan as unnecessary, but said this week he would cooperate with council on making appointments to the board after receiving an opinion by Law Director Adam Loukx that the proposed authority is within council’s powers.
The plan is for a 25-member board representing community development corporations and other neighborhood groups.
The blight authority will apply for a $20,000 grant to provide tool trailers with lawn mowers and other gardening implements to provide to neighborhood groups to do clean-ups, according to Councilman Mike Craig.
The mayor has been proposing his own program called the T-Town Initiative, based in part on a community movement in Ireland called Tidy Towns, to combat an epidemic of deteriorating vacant houses, yards, and vacant lots.
“I will support it and I look forward to the opportunities this provides to address the issues that Toledo is facing,” Mr. Collins said. “The critical component is this is not council vs. mayor’s office. It’s what is good public policy.”
Toledo Councilman Jack Ford proposed the idea last year during his campaign for council. Mr. Craig, Mr. Ford, and four other council members rolled out the blight authority plan on Tuesday.
Mr. Craig, whose district includes East Toledo and part of old South Toledo, said he was relieved to hear of the mayor’s support.
“I’m really glad. I really think this is a good idea if he cooperates,” Mr. Craig said.
He said the group initially planned to appoint an executive director, but withdrew that from the concept.
“As far as I’m concerned if the board wants to appoint an executive director they could probably do that later,” Mr. Craig said.
“I would like to under this board organize a 501c3 or go through the county so that we can buy and hold a couple of tool trailers so we can get mowers, weed-whackers, and equipment out to the citizens so they can clean up their own neighborhoods,” Mr. Craig said.
Mr. Craig said the reason for the board is to tap into the neighborhood organizations that are already engaged in battling blight.
Mr. Loukx’s opinion, provided to The Blade, says council has the power under the charter to create boards and commissions but may not diminish the mayor’s authority. It also says the mayor has power to appoint all members of boards and commissions.
The mayor’s spokesman, Lisa Ward, said the mayor doesn’t want to stand in the way of something beneficial council might do.
“He still feels it’s unnecessary but he’s willing to let council go through the process,” Ms. Ward said.