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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz gave a preview of this Thursday’s State of the City address when he spoke to East Toledo Club members last week.

Kapszukiewicz will deliver the 2019 State of the City Address at Waite High School, 301 Morrison Dr., at 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28. He spoke to the East Toledo Club this past Thursday afternoon at the East Toledo Family Center Senior Center.

 

Mayor Kapszukiewicz’ says his state of the city address will highlight accomplishments of the past year and

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Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)

his vision and initiatives for 2019 and beyond. The mayor says he “is committed to fiscally-responsible policies to enhance the efficiency and transparency of city operations.” He also “strives to increase the education, income, and health of all Toledoans.”

        Kapszukiewicz made it clear to the East Toledo Club that for anything he touts as positive news, the city faces serious issues and he and council still have work to do. 

        East Toledo Club members and seniors in attendance reminded him of those problems during a question and answer session, bringing to light blighted neighborhoods, pothole-filled streets, lack of policing in the streets, failures to enforce property codes, and more.

        Kapszukiewicz acknowledged that “for a long time the city has looked the other way on code enforcement” and promised that is going to change.

Kapszukiewicz touted that the city has resurfaced more miles of roads than it has ever done in the past 20 years, but warned that “engineers say we need to triple what we did last year resurfacing roads just to keep at the ‘water level,” acknowledging that Toledo’s roads are tough to drive because of potholes.

He also noted that the police force has grown for the first time in 11 years, adding a net gain of 25 officers. That includes 80 who graduated from the police academy minus retirees.

He touted an $8.5 million budget surplus in the budget, explaining that the “economy is stronger than we anticipated, but a big part of that was good old-fashioned belt-tightening budgeting.” He said the city spent $2.5 million less than budgeted.

“Without being boastful, there aren’t too many governments that can say that,” Kapszukiewicz said. “So, I can make the case that we are providing services better than we have in a long time. There is certainly more energy in some parts of the city, including the core of the city, than there has been in a long time.

“And, we sure as heck have been more fiscally accountable and responsible than we have been — I don’t care what you say. There is no doubt of that. The budget we inherited a couple years ago versus where we are now is night and day.”

He said the city now has a $23 million rainy day fund but still has the lowest bond rating of any major city in Ohio and one-third of its residents are still living in poverty.

In addition, crime rates are down for larceny, burglary, breaking and entering and most other categories except for violent crime and crime involving guns, which he says has never been higher.

Creative partnerships

He added that the city plans to increase quadruple funding for parks and recreation, adding that a “successful city spends about four percent of its budget on recreation” while Toledo is currently spending one-half of one percent. He added there will be other notable changes in parks and recreation programs, and the city is looking to get creative with partnerships.

“I think you are going to see this community really step up when it comes to parks and rec programs over the next year-and-a-half,” Kapszukiewicz said.

One partnership includes the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, who he says currently have an option on Ravine Parks I and II. He says the Metroparks is studying whether to incorporate the two city parks into its plan to create a “Green Necklace” along the Maumee River and Lake Erie shoreline. Part of that Green Necklace includes the new Metropark to be constructed at the Marina District, which has just been named the Glass City Metropark.

“The most exciting development project that Toledo has seen in 30 to 40 years is happening in East Toledo,” Kapszukiewicz said. “The Marina District Metropark that is essentially going to go from the Craig Bridge to the Martin Luther King Bridge is a $70 million investment that doesn’t always happen to any neighborhood in Toledo.

“You never think about it in these terms, but when they are done with that, it will have turned Front Street into riverfront property because everything that had been in its way is going to be gone. So, some of the most attractive, valuable parcels of land in our city are going to be running along the heart of East Toledo,” Kapszukiewicz continued.

“If you can imagine the Garfield neighborhood, you can almost draw what’s called a necklace — it’s sort of around Waite High School and then reconnects with it — you are going to see some investment in and around Waite and Garfield. Some of it is intentional, but some of it will be the natural by-product of having a $70 million investment 10 feet away.”

Doors for the state of the city will open at 4:30 p.m. and the speech begins at 5 p.m. The mayor says he is especially pleased to invite all to the historic Waite High School, in “one of Toledo’s great neighborhoods.” District 3 Councilman Peter J. Ujvagi will introduce the mayor. The annual State of the City typically brings community, business, faith, non-profit, and government leaders together. The event is free and open to the public

 

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