Toledo councilmen Mike Craig, Theresa Gabriel, Jack Ford, Larry Sykes, and Tyrone Riley.
Toledo City Council could take action next Tuesday to create the Toledo Blight Authority, described as a mechanism by which leaders can come together, share ideas, and collaborate to help citizens sustain neighborhoods.
During council’s Neighborhoods, Community Development and Health Committee session Monday, committee chairman Jack Ford said the proposed blight authority is a culmination of a campaign pledge made more than a year ago, and the new collaboration and cooperation between public and private community partners and stakeholders is not meant to be nor does it have to be a new bureaucracy. It makes sense, he said, for the blight authority to pull together individual groups, creating the opportunity for members to speak with more of a singular focus.
RELATED CONTENT: The Blade‘s series on blight
David Mann, president of the Lucas County Land Bank, said he welcomes the opportunity for it to play a role in the new blight authority and appreciates the creation of the collaborative effort.
When asked by Councilman Tyrone Riley if Toledo has a blight problem, Mr. Mann replied there is no question a problem exists, but it is not insurmountable.
Councilman Mike Craig said a blight authority that would encourage and educate citizens to take ownership of their neighborhoods is long overdue. There is nothing better, he said, than getting citizens involved, and if the blight authority does that, then it will be a success. He said he is encouraged by the response to the blight authority by council members and residents.
The mayor would appoint blight authority directors, subject to council confirmation.
As outlined in the proposed ordinance, the board would aid in the coordination of activities of public and private organizations concerned with eliminating blight and improving the safety and aesthetics of neighborhoods; encourage citizens to take individual responsibility for the condition of Toledo neighborhoods; provide resources to empower citizens to improve and maintain their neighborhoods including education, tools, and volunteers; coordinate a youth program to engage Toledo youth in blight elimination and neighborhood stabilization, and establish a support system for citizens to stabilize and sustain neighborhood safety and aesthetics.
The blight authority is designed to enhance, not duplicate, efforts.
Last week, stepping back from his earlier disapproval, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said he would not oppose a blight authority proposal from council. The mayor initially opposed the plan as unnecessary, but later said he would cooperate with council to appointment members to the board after receiving an opinion by Law Director Adam Loukx that the creating the authority is within council’s powers.
— Janet Romaker