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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2006

City begins '06 housing demolitions

While a demolition crew razes the house at 1627 Pinewood Ave., Mayor Carty Finkbeiner says his goal for 2006 is to tear down 300 abandoned or neglected houses in Toledo.
While a demolition crew razes the house at 1627 Pinewood Ave., Mayor Carty Finkbeiner says his goal for 2006 is to tear down 300 abandoned or neglected houses in Toledo.

A small dwelling in Toledo's central city yesterday became the first of the year to fall as part of the city's annual housing demolition program.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who was present for the start of the work by city workers, said his goal is 300 demolitions, continuing a program he said started 10 years ago.

The house at 1627 Pinewood Ave. was owned by Ghassan Assali, of Sylvania, according to the Lucas County auditor's Web site.

The owner could not be reached for comment.

One neighbor said the two-story frame house built in 1907 has been empty for years.

"They should have tore it down a long time ago," said John Armstrong, 81, who lives down the street. "Maybe somebody will put a house in there. That'd be nice."

Mr. Finkbeiner said neighborhood organizations will be notified that the vacant lot is available. Sometimes such lots are sold to neighbors for $150.

He said the demolition goal of 300 abandoned and neglected houses a year was set 10 years ago when city unions argued that they could demolish the houses at less cost than the private contractors being used.

Tom Kroma, the city's director of neighborhoods, said that when the city demolishes a dwelling, the cost plus a 20 percent administrative fee is billed to the owner.

He said typical demolition bills vary from $4,000 to $7,000.

Mr. Kroma said the city last year under Mayor Jack Ford, tore down 278 houses with city funds, and saw another 42 abandoned and neglected houses taken down by the owners.

The amount the city has recouped from property owners was not available last night.

In a separate cleanup effort yesterday, two crews with about a dozen workers each began trimming trees and gathering debris from a section of Miami Street from the Toledo city limit to Oakdale Avenue on the city's east side.

The effort, expected to last another day or two, was organized by three community service police officers and Block Watch after Mr. Finkbeiner said in his State of the City address last month that he wanted to beautify the entrances to the city, police Sgt. Richard Murphy said.

The sergeant said Pilkington plc contracted T&J Excavating and Tree Service to cut trees and clean up debris - such as tires, bottles, glass, and papers - at no cost to the city. The city's department of neighborhoods then will pick up the trash, he said.

Sergeant Murphy said he hopes other large corporations will participate in future cleanups in other sections of the city, such as the Anthony Wayne Trail and Alexis Road. He also hopes citizens will keep the area of Miami clean after the effort.

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