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Published: Thursday, 4/18/2013

Trading Leverette gym for park considered


A proposed land swap between Toledo Public Schools and the city of Toledo could soon end a flap over renovating the home of the local Police Athletic League.

The Toledo Board of Education will likely vote Tuesday on the deal with the city that would trade the former Leverette Middle School’s gymnasium for Optimist Park, which is along Front Street and in front of Waite High School.

The Toledo Police Department wants to use the old Leverette gym — all that remains of the former middle school — for its Police Athletic League activities for at-risk youth, such as boxing, volleyball, and baseball. But the building needs about $250,000 in repairs to have heat and electricity.

City Councilman D. Michael Collins, among other councilmen, had raised concerns about spending such money on a building the city didn’t own — a concern the exchange would address.

The transfer also would be beneficial for the school district, business manager James Gant said. TPS doesn’t want to pay for a facility it won’t use, while Optimist Park is a property the school district and the Waite alumni association have long eyed.

Other parcels along Front Street near the school have recently been purchased with plans for businesses not necessarily appropriate for locations so close by, and owning the park site would give TPS a say in the matter.

“We can control what it looks like,” Mr. Gant said.

Waite alumni also want to eventually build a softball field there. Alumni would be charged with raising funds for the field.

City Council is to consider the proposed land trade April 30.

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