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Published: Saturday, 5/31/2008

Finkbeiner criticizes developer over water

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday lashed out at developer Brian McMahon - accusing him of bamboozling some local media and fabricating the existence of a petition to extend city water lines for an intermodal facility at Toledo Express Airport.

"There has been a great deal of distortion in reporting on the intermodal, as some would like to call it," the mayor said during a news conference.

He stressed his support for an intermodal - the term used by shippers to mean a transfer point for containerized freight from one form of transportation to another.

"I wish economic development were as easy as some make it sound," the mayor said.

"Just sign a piece of paper that has falsely been alleged to be languishing on my desk for two years - that was, and is, unadulterated B-period, S-period, - and thousands of jobs will come our way."

Mr. Finkbeiner said no such document was ever presented to him and added that Mr. McMahon has no one lined up for his property near Toledo Express.

Instead, he said Mr. McMahon has concentrated on developing intermodal business in Wood County.

Intermodal centers are sometimes built near airports, lake ports, and seaports and are hubs that handle America's imported and exported manufactured goods and consumer products.

Mr. McMahon, whose firm is a partner in a limited liability corporation that owns land around Toledo's airport, has advocated developing such a terminal near the airport.

"He's doing his usual takeoff. He is discrediting everyone," Mr. McMahon said of the mayor. "It's all about Carty playing catch-up because he has been out of the loop for so long. All of these other agencies supportive of intermodal have been extremely helpful."

Mr. McMahon said the document - what he called a request for an easement to tap into the city water line on the opposite side of Airport Highway - was delivered to Mr. Finkbeiner.

"What has happened to it is no further concern to us," Mr. McMahon said. "He is trying to play hide the peanut with this document."

The mayor said the city is close to concluding negotiations for a joint economic development district with Swanton and Monclova townships for land around the airport.

He said the agreement would assure all three communities benefit from a regional approach to economic development.

"To just give away water and watch others benefit from Toledo's best asset would be foolish and not in the best interest of Toledoans," he said.

The mayor said he would appoint a committee of at least seven people next week to analyze the available sites that have potential for intermodal development.

Mr. McMahon said the city was impeding progress of joint economic development district negotiations with the townships by insisting that any joint-development agreement keep the city whole for any revenue it loses because of a company moving from within the Toledo city limits into the zone.

That attitude, he said, "alienates" the townships. "It deepens the distrust they have with the city because it's so unreasonable," Mr. McMahon said.

However, Matt Sapara, director of development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and interim director of the Lucas County Improvement Corp., said that no such make-whole agreement was on the table at any of several recent meetings concerning the matter that he attended, and he believed progress toward setting up a joint-development agreement was being made.

If Toledo were to develop the regional airport as an intermodal hub, companies could fly products in, quickly load them into trucks, and then drive them to their final destination.

Local officials and developers have for years said the Toledo area is ideally situated to become a major freight distribution center for the northeastern United States and southern Canada.

Toledo's potential power as an intermodal distribution and logistics hub was the subject of a two-day Blade report May 18-19.

Staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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