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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2014

COMMUNITY-DRIVEN EFFORT

Toledo councilmen announce program to fight city’s blight

BY JENNIFER GERSTEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

City blight will meet a new foe in the Toledo Blight Authority, whose creation City Councilmen Mike Craig, Jack Ford, and Tom Waniewski announced at a news conference Tuesday.

Working alongside Mayor D. Michael Collins’ new T-Town initiative, the Toledo Blight Authority will coordinate community efforts to eliminate blight.

Mr. Craig said the program will be largely citizen-driven, and entails no plans to create new city-run departments or agencies. The draft legislation that would create the authority does not include any information on how much it would cost.

“We’re not looking to create another level of bureaucracy,” Mr. Waniewski said. “We’re trying to streamline … to put it all together.”

The blight authority will first tackle “low-hanging fruit,” Mr. Craig said. That includes cosmetic issues such as high grass, the removal of which will be a first step toward broader action.

Among the plans for aesthetic improvements is Mr. Waniewski’s proposal to use more attractive alternatives to plywood when boarding up vacant homes.

Mr. Ford said the blight authority would revitalize the mission of the Neighborhood Improvement Foundation of Toledo, a nonprofit community organization beset by funding difficulties during the last 10 years.

Like NIFTI, he said, the blight authority will help to expand citizen involvement in neighborhood beautification.

Mayor Collins has previously said he did not support the creation of the blight authority because he has his own plan for fighting blight. He declined to comment Tuesday, saying the city law director, Adam Loukx, would address the issue in an opinion to City Council Friday.

Legislation to create the blight authority will be finalized at City Council’s agenda review meeting next Wednesday.

Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.



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