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Published: Wednesday, 5/30/2001

Activist faces day in court for clean-up infractions

A local environmental activist pushing for the cleanup of a marshy area in North Toledo needs to do some serious housecleaning himself, according to the city.

And today, Rick VanLandingham and his group could be fined if they don't comply.

Mr. VanLandingham, head of Citizens for Buckeye Basin Parks, Inc., has been charged two fourth-degree misdemeanors in Toledo Municipal Court. He is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. today in front of Judge C. Allen McConnell on charges that the group has not complied with the city's orders to clean up a property at 720 Suder Avenue. But Mr. VanLandingham, who once ran for city council, argues that the city is being unfair.

“It's not like we've been sitting on our laurels doing nothing,” he said.

A housing inspector in August ordered the group to “repair walls, doors, and windows, paint siding or demolish” and “board and secure property as needed, cut grass and weeds, trim bushes, removal all junk, debris, and litter” at the property.

By April 18, those things allegedly were not done, so the inspector filed two complaints in housing court against the group, in care of Mr. VanLandingham. Both complaints are punishable by a $250 fine or 30 days in jail.

Mr. VanLandingham said the group purchased the property, formerly a welding shop and later a tire recycling facility, several years ago for $35,000. He said the group purchased the “very ugly little concrete building” to clean it up and “secure the perimeter of the Manhattan Marsh,” an area near Summit Street and Manhattan Boulevard.

But he said vandals have thwarted cleanup efforts by repeatedly tearing down boards over windows and setting at least one fire there. Additionally, road construction in previous summers has cut off access to the site and caused flooding there, he said.

A major cleanup two weeks ago at the site has improved its condition, he said.

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