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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2001

Swapping city crew's site for baseball field draws fire

A city councilman is trying to have the city's graffiti removal service moved out of a building in East Toledo to make way for a new baseball field.

The Toledo department of neighborhoods has asked for $50,000 to relocate the graffiti removal crew from Ravine Park to a building nearby on Bancroft Street near Cherry Street. But the plan has drawn criticism from several council members.

Under the urging of Councilman Bob McCloskey, the Finkbeiner administration has asked for money to be approved by council on Tuesday to relocate the graffiti removal crew. The building, which is slated for demolition, draws complaints from neighbors for its appearance.

Once it is demolished, Mr. McCloskey plans to ask for money in next year's capital improvements budget to build a baseball field for the Waite High School team.

Mr. McCloskey said Waite's field is too small. “This has been going on for a long time. Yes, I did press them to move ahead with the baseball field,” Mr. McCloskey said.

Councilwoman Edna Brown and Councilman Louis Escobar questioned the wisdom of relocating the agency when no appropriation has been made to build the proposed baseball field. Under the plan, Toledo would own and maintain the baseball diamond. That would include painting lines and turning the dirt on the base paths.

The city maintains fields for Bowsher, Libbey, and Start high schools. In exchange for those services, the city gets to use Toledo Public Schools gymnasiums for youth and adult basketball and volleyball leagues, according to Mary Dixon, commissioner of recreation.

Ms. Dixon said the city has not recommended or opposed Mr. McCloskey's efforts to build a field. She said West Toledo has a greater need for a new baseball diamond, but said it is needed in East Toledo as well.

Theresa Gabriel, director of parks, recreation, and forestry, said the graffiti removal crew was allowed to move into the Ravine Park building temporarily three years ago. She said the plan to raze the building preceded Mr. McCloskey's proposal to put a baseball diamond there.

Lourdes Santiago, acting neighborhoods director, defended the plan to relocate the graffiti removal service to Bancroft Street, next to the Farmer Jack grocery.

“We knew we had to vacate that site,” Ms. Santiago said. “I wanted the crew more centrally located anyway. I didn't want them that far away from the hub of where they spend most of their time.”



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