West Toledo neighborhood activists urged city council Monday to consider allocating money for a police substation when it holds a public hearing today about a budget amendment that proposes to add $1.9 million to Toledo's general-fund budget.
They also delivered a petition to Mayor Mike Bell's office asking city leaders to rescind their decision to close the Northwest district police station on Sylvania Avenue. The closing occurred despite opposition from neighborhood residents and councilmen.
John Bibish, resident and former Toledo finance official, said 575 people had signed the petition.
Joined by three city councilmen, neighborhood organizers announced the petition during a news conference on the steps of One Government Center.
Alleging increased police response times in West Toledo and what they say is the administration's lack of willingness or ability to provide relevant police statistics, Mr. Bibish called on city council to consider allocating money to the substation when it convenes the hearing today.
"The administration has … told us that things are so tight, that all they can offer us in response to the closure is that a police [academy] class is being planned for the future," Mr. Bibish said. "But there is going to be a public hearing on an administration budget amendment tomorrow. … If there is an additional $2 million available, isn't it reasonable to ask if some of this budget could be used for the Northwest station?"
Administration officials have maintained the city has neither the staff nor the money to keep the station running. They've also claimed that closing the building has no impact on how West Toledo is policed, because its patrols are dispatched from the Scott Park station, not Northwest.
The city negotiated a $270,000 sale of the station site to Global Direct Invest LLC, but city council rejected the deal on June 19. The Bell administration has vowed to continue its search for a buyer.
"That buyer walked away from the deal after the city council voted to reject that offer," said Jen Sorgenfrei, a mayoral spokesman. "So instead of having a functioning business contributing to our tax base, we now have yet another vacant building on Sylvania Avenue.
"Response time will improve by putting officers on the street rather than having them sit in a district station," she added, noting that patrols have not worked from the station since 2008.
Administrative functions that remained at the station were moved when it closed June 29.
Councilmen George Sarantou, Tom Waniewski, and D. Michael Collins also spoke in favor of reopening the substation during the news conference.