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Published: Thursday, 3/22/2001

Finkbeiner criticizes census data for districts

BY JOE MAHR
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner lashed out yesterday at U.S. Census Bureau officials after a local analysis of city census data showed population losses in areas where he is confident there were gains.

He also said he believes the city hasn't lost population since 1995.

“We continue to maintain that in Toledo the Census 2000 operation was grossly inadequate, negligently executed, and we strongly believe that an undercount has occurred,” he said.

Mr. Finkbeiner also criticized The Blade for not immediately reporting positive gains of 15 census tracts in the city totaling 6,009 people. He said those gains further prove the city has stabilized after three decades of losses.

The 2000 census figures released Friday show that losses in the city's other 85 census tracts contributed to a net loss of 19,324 people in Toledo in the 1990s, for a 2000 population of 313,619.

The mayor believes that more census tracts should have been listed as gainers, although he's not sure how many.

The mayor said he did not believe the census declines in:

  • The Old West End tract, which showed a loss of 647 people. The mayor said there's no way fewer people could live in an area he considers the best example of “urban renaissance.”

  • The census tracts north, east, and southwest of the University of Toledo, which showed combined losses of 1,377 from 1990, and the UT campus, which showed a gain of 787. The mayor argued that more students live on-campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods than in 1990, despite about a 15 percent decline in UT enrollment in the 1990s.

  • The Uptown Arts District tract, which houses the 106-unit Hillcrest Apartments and the 88-unit Park Lane Hotel, both recently renovated. The Hillcrest structure housed people in the 1990s, but not the Park Lane.

    Of the tracts that showed gains in the 2000 census, most were on the city's southwest or northwest side, helped by new apartments, condominiums, and housing. The city's downtown - between Monroe and Cherry streets -gained 249, and the tract immediately southwest gained 793. A major East Toledo tract, which abuts the river from Main Street north past I-280, also gained 402.

    Steve Herwat, director of the Toledo-Lucas County plan commissions, said he doesn't know why the East Toledo tract gained population. But he said the downtown was helped by new apartments and the section southwest of downtown by new housing on vacant lots.

    Farther south, near Highland Park, the population increased 431 people. Mr. Herwat said he believes it was because younger families moved into homes once occupied solely by couples.

    As for the losses in 85 tracts, Mr. Herwat said he wouldn't know why until more specific census data is released this summer.

    Toledo is among a dozen cities suing the census bureau alleging an undercount. Officials from the census bureau did not immediately respond for comment yesterday.

    Mayor Finkbeiner argued that Toledo's true population in 2000 was as high as 320,000 and it's been steady since 1995. As proof, he pointed to 3,270 new and rehabilitated housing units in the city since he became mayor in 1994.

    “I would say from 1995 on, we have at the very least - at the very least - held our own, if not gained some in population,” he said.

    While some local officials agreed that the population has stabilized, there's no agreement on when. Mr. Herwat said he believes it happened in 1999.

    Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest - the only declared candidate to replace Mr. Finkbeiner - said he believes it happened this year, based on his office's knowledge of vacant parcels.

    In 1998 the census bureau forecast that the city would stabilize by 2000, only to release a 1999 population estimate showing twice as many people leaving as in 1998.

    Further confounding demographers, the 2000 census offers a figure nearly 5,700 people higher than the 1999 estimate.

    The census showed that Toledo's metropolitan area - defined as Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties - gained 23,399 people in areas outside Toledo.

    When Toledo's population was counted, the total metro area saw a net gain of less than 1 percent.

    Mr. Finkbeiner criticized The Blade for not clarifying in articles that the census bureau's figures for some townships also include the populations of cities or villages within the townships. He said it appeared to inflate the number of people living in the suburbs.

    In Lucas County, the 2000 populations of townships, excluding cities or villages that reside in them, are: 1,308 in Richfield Township, 22,817 in Springfield Township, 3,330 in Swanton Township, and 25,583 in Sylvania Township.



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