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Ford marshals forces for city cleanup

Mayor Jack Ford is inviting residents interested in beautifying city neighborhoods to the top floor of Government Center Jan. 17 for a strategy session.

The mayor said that he wants more local responsibility for a cleaner city, and has set aside 1 to 4 p.m. that day for the meeting. He's planning to use council chambers and offices on floors 16-20 and 22 for breakout sessions.

The mayor has appointed directors and commissioners in his cabinet to take charge of 16 city sectors organized by ZIP codes. “We're going to tackle it as a military campaign, I guess,” Mr. Ford said.

The directors will lead sessions in which church groups, Block Watch organizations, community groups, individuals, or local businesses will recommend goals that could cover trash, street paving, broken sidewalks, and overgrown trees and lawns.

Mr. Ford said he envisions groups or individuals taking responsibility for certain alleys or vacant lots. But he said he is not suggesting such groups would have actual control over property they don't own.

Mr. Ford noted his emphasis of last year, which included stepped-up cleaning of alleys, enforcement of illegal dumping, and even distribution of free trash barrels. “While we made some progress last year, we still must do a lot more. We're committed to moving Toledo into elegant-city status,” he said.

As he has before, Mr. Ford expressed frustration with a lack of commitment to cleaning up vacant lots and alleys from some of the city's 14 community development corporations.

“There are a few CDCs who feel this business is not their business,” he said. “That boggles my mind.” The mayor said cleaner neighborhoods attract homeowners and businesses and reduce crime.

“We're trying to put together a neighborhood team who lives in the neighborhood or has a role in the neighborhood,” Mr. Ford said.

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