The City of Toledo’s capital improvement budget proposed submitted by Mayor Michael P. Bell does not include money for renovating swimming pools.
District 3 councilman Mike Craig said the future of Toledo’s pools remains in the air since a recreation levy did not pass on November 6. He says a steering committee is in the process of determining the pool’s future.
“I don’t know what we are going to do with pools. That is something that we need to sit down and talk about. People love pools, but you know what, we’re only opening them for six weeks a year. So we’re spending half our recreation budget for six weeks,” Craig said.
In the November election, Toledo voters turned down Issue 5, a city recreation levy, with 53.2 percent disapproval.
Levy promoter Josh Thurston said that if Issue 5 had passed, it would bring the City of Toledo in line with surrounding communities by having a separate fund for parks and recreation. The levy would have generated $3 million a year for 10 years.
Thurston said the levy, which would have cost the average homeowner $20 a year, could have meant re-opening swimming pools and bringing back athletic leagues. It could also have meant reopening Ravine and Collins park pools in East Toledo and more jobs for lifeguards and possibly individuals involved in administration of recreation activities.
Thurston said disapproval means grass may not get cut and continued poor maintenance of parks.
“We are hoping to bring back recreational activities for the kids — baseball leagues, softball leagues, and basketball leagues,” Thurston said during an East Toledo Family Center levy forum prior to the election.
“It’s a more sensible way to fund our parks — a sensible way to fund our city. The first thing the city does when it needs funds it takes away from our parks, and if our parks are an eyesore, our city is an eyesore,” Thurston continued.
Meanwhile, a Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District additional tax passed on November 6 with 50.9 percent approving. Craig believes more of an effort could have been made to promote Toledo’s levy. He said he put in $200 of his own campaign funds.
“They needed to start raising money the minute they put it on the ballot,” Craig said. “They waited until after the primary. They just went about it all wrong. It did well for a first try, and I think if they raised money earlier it could have passed. That’s the way it goes, but hopefully it will pass in the future. I was kind of upset.”
Craig says he does expect changes in Mayor Bell’s $32.4 million CIP budget proposal before it passes through council.
“We’ve got a budget to pass. Here’s the good thing about the administration — in the (former mayor Carty) Finkbeiner administration if you wanted to change a budget you had to move heaven and earth to change $50,000. He’d have every administrator up there crying the blues, swearing they could not live without the $50,000.
“The (current) mayor (Bell) goes, ‘Look, if that’s what you want to do, I’m going to go ahead and do it. I’m going to come back to you and tell you what you have to live with if you do that.’ And, that’s it. He’s like, ‘If that’s your choice, here’s what it is going to cost you’ and that’s OK. It’s going to be pretty matter of fact,” Craig continued.
“Are there going to be fine adjustments? Yeah. But I’ll bet you it’s under $1 million,”