East Toledo Family Center community builder Jodi Gross is heading a program geared toward bringing the neighborhoods together to advocate “one voice” for East Toledo.
Two meetings last week, one for safety and another for housing, demonstrated that the program was gaining momentum. In both cases, every chair in the meeting room had someone sitting in it.
“I am excited to report that the response to our community forum and the committee meetings has been great,” Gross said. “The energy and momentum is strong in East Toledo and we want to keep it going. This is only the beginning and our work is not finished, we still need your time and energy.”
|Jodi Gross of the East Toledo Family Center|
“This is a way to voice our concerns,” Gross continued, “so our working committee can put some thoughts down as we work through this process. We do want to keep it as positive as we can — this is our way to work together and to advocate for East Toledo.
“This is a working meeting to create a group that will advocate building a healthy and sustainable community for all of us. We are approaching a very exciting time in the community building efforts in East Toledo.”
In neighborhoods reeling with housing issues, residents came up with recommended strategies at a meeting hosted by the ETFC, NeighborWorks Toledo, and Toledo LISC.
Approximately 30 residents in the breakout group focused on housing and economic development. Martin Jarret of Jarret Consulting Services facilitated and NeighborWorks director Bob Krompak recorded the committee’s recommendations.
The meeting included resident neighborhood groups, block watches, churches, schools, other agencies, city officials, the police department and businesses. Twenty people jammed into a follow-up housing meeting a week later, also hosted by Jarret.
“As a key stakeholder we cordially invite you to attend so that you can be part of and see firsthand our community working together to tackle the issues such as crime, safety and blighted properties in East Toledo,” Gross said.
“And, anything that you as a stakeholder think is important for our community. I think that you will agree that it is important for all of us to work and advocate together to see this happen. There will be committee work and upcoming events that you can get involved with.”
Among housing recommendations that came out of the meetings were —
•Encourage Lucas County to establish time limits for property owners who pay late taxes to avoid foreclosure or demolition — and still do not make the necessary improvements.
• Work with the Lucas County Land Bank to ensure that there are clear and enforced time limits imposed on those receiving properties — for all remediation actions.
• Encourage the housing court to be more aggressive in remediating housing code violations and inhabitable conditions.
• Request City of Toledo to make water costs more affordable to homeowners and landlords, including adjustment of the new $200 “fee.”
• Request the city to establish procedure to electronically send utility bills to homeowners. Also, request the city to allow payment of utility bills through credit cards online, without a service fee, to expedite the payment process.
• NeighborWorks and ETFC to encourage all East Toledo landlords to conduct credit checks on their prospective tenants.
• NeighborWorks to market and administer their full toolbox of home repair, new construction, lending and weatherization programs throughout East Toledo neighborhoods.
• Request the city to establish an enhanced tracking system regarding code enforcement and nuisance complaints that is online, easily accessible, and can be monitored by residents.
• Establish a higher degree of coordination and cooperation between city and county offices.
• Reuse current vacant lots and those resulting from future property demolition.
• Transfer vacant lots at no cost to neighbors that are committed to improving the property.
• Publicize the availability of vacant lots being held by the land bank and the procedures for acquiring other vacant properties.
• Encourage community gardens as a productive use of vacant lots.
• Encourage nearby residents to be a “good neighbor” by taking care of vacant lots.
• Post all meeting dates and other information regarding community development efforts on the ETFC and NeighborWorks Facebook pages.
• Assess the angle parking trial program along Main Street from the perspective of the businesses and customers
• Request the city to reestablish a façade improvement program as an incentive for businesses to renovate their buildings. Provide needed technical support regarding façade improvements.
• Revisit the recommendations from the LISC’s “Connecting the Pieces” project regarding the enhancement of the Main-Starr neighborhood business district.
• Prepare strategies to address potential increased traffic along Main Street resulting from the planned closing of the Anthony Wayne Bridge.
• Monitor the status of the Marina District and ensure that future development compliments the Main-Starr neighborhood business district.
• Establish a park for East Toledo residents along the waterfront as part of the Marina District.
• Improve the skills of East Toledo residents to enhance their opportunity for employment.
• Post all meeting dates and other information regarding community improvement efforts on the ETFC and NeighborWorks Facebook pages.