Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Collins wants the city to quit running Erie Street Market




The Finkbeiner administration was unable to provide simple financial documents concerning the city-owned Erie Street Market requested last week, Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins said Monday morning.

As a result, Mr. Collins said he would instruct the council’s clerk to draft legislation rescinding a previous ordinance that allows the administration to run the Erie Street Market business.

On July 22, Mr. Collins requested a profit-loss statement and balance sheet for the first half of 2008 for the city-owned building at 237 South Erie St.

On Friday, Mr. Collins blasted Acting City Law Director Adam Loukx in an e-mail for not producing the documents.

"I read with great interest your letter dated July 25, 2008 to William J. Carroll, Director of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, wherein you demanded public records based upon a document request of July 21, 2008," Mr. Collins wrote on Friday. "The specific records I requested consisted of a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement. These records, as part of a normal business practice, should have been available within 24 hours."

Mr. Collins indicated it was ironic Mr. Loukx protested the slow release of public records from another public entity, while at the same time, his request on the market went unaddressed for three days.

"Obviously, my request does not carry the same level of importance to the mayor and his administration when it comes to due diligence to the taxpayers of The City of Toledo, albeit, it deals with the financial status of the Erie Street Market at this time, and in my opinion is of far greater importance than your efforts to duplicate an ongoing investigation," he wrote.

Andy Ferrara, a city economic development specialist, said Mr. Collins’ request required the city to create a report.

"We are working on it," Mr. Ferrara said. "If I had it, I would give it to him immediately. Hopefully in the next hour or two, we will have it."

Mr. Collins said he is not trying to close the Erie Street Market building.

"This is not emotional for me and I am not angry at the city," he said Monday. "I am concerned over the information we have been receiving for our financial forecast for the city, and that we could be in a $5 million deficit for 2008 and what is beyond that."

He added: "I want to know how much money is coming out of the general fund to subsidize that business or it is making money and no subsidy is necessary."

Last month, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner gave a local concert promoter the go-ahead to once again hold concerts and other events at the Erie Street Market building. The first show will be Saturday, Aug. 2.

The city expects to make between $10,000 to $15,000 per month, the mayor said.

The Erie Street Market building at 237 South Erie St. is divided into four sections, or bays. The bay on the north side of the building houses the Libbey Glass Factory Outlet. Another bay, formerly an antiques marketplace, was vacant until recently when about a dozen small antique vendors were moved there.

A third bay, Civic Center Promenade, is used for private parties.

The other section of the market — which people often think of as the market itself — is in the area that housed the dozen small antique vendors and food shops. That bay has a stage and originally was known as Civic Auditorium.

That area has been undergoing renovations for the concerts and other events.

In January, Toledo City Council gave the Finkbeiner administration four months to develop a business plan for the market.

City Council, by a 9-2 vote, authorized the city to provide for market management, accept an operating budget, and create a fund that would be used to receive revenue and pay bills.

Councilmen Michael Ashford and Frank Szollosi voted no. Councilman Phillip Copeland did not attend the meeting.

The ordinance said the market would be turned over to a "yet to be named entity by July 1."

In April, Mr. Finkbeiner announced a plan to sell 25 parcels of property, including the Erie Street Market building, for $4.2 million to Tetra Tech Inc. of Pasadena, Calif.

The California firm now has plans to develop the area near Swan Creek downtown into a $300 million mixed-use riverwalk development.

The Tetra Tech purchase agreement lets the company evaluate the property and determine if the development is feasible. It must pay the city a deposit of $25,000 if closing has not occurred by Nov. 1, and $50,000 more if closing has not occurred by Dec. 31.

In May, City Council voted to keep the market operating for the rest of the year. Mr. Szollosi and Mr. Ashford again voted no on the action. Mr. Copeland was not present for that vote.

At the time, Mr. Collins and fellow councilmen Mike Craig and Tom Waniewski said they supported the ordinance with some degree of reluctance — chiefly because of the business plan for the market released the previous week, which they called weak.

However, they each said it could be important for the Tetra Tech deal.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

or 419-724-6171.

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