The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Oregon Councilman James Seaman on Monday raised questions about blocked traffic from trains at the intersections of Pickle Road and Wheeling Street and Pickle Road and Woodville Road, where the city installed a railroad crossing notification system in 2003.

The system of flashing blue lights notify motorists of a blocked CSX crossing on Pickle Road and provides them with the opportunity to select an alternate route before reaching the tracks.

Seaman said he’s received several complaints from residents living in the area that the trains are frequently blocking the crossings.

“The blue lights work fine letting you know that there’s a train there,” said Seaman. “But they’re on all the time. I think the railroad figures that because there’s an adequate visual warning sign, they can just constantly have it tied up. That cut-through down Pickle Road, from Wheeling to Woodville, is constantly blue lighted. Or when you’re coming from Woodville up the other way, there’s a blue light on all the time.”

He noted that a judge a few weeks ago fined one of the railroad companies for excessive blockages.

“I don’t know what we can do about it. The [notification] system works good. It is a nice thing to have,” said Seaman. “There’s nothing wrong with it. But the railroads are abusing the situation because they think because we know they are there, they can abuse it whenever they want on the Woodville /Pickle roads crossing. I guess it’s an age old problem with the railroads taking up too much of our time on the crossings, but it’s getting bad. I’m telling you. People have been asking me about it. I don’t know what our response can be.”

St. Jerome Catholic Church in Walbridge will undergo a $1.3 million renovation project that will include structural necessities such as roof replacement, plumbing improvements, electrical updates, paint and carpeting as well as items important to the sacred celebrations of the church.

Parishioners and supporters of St. Jerome have raised $1.25 million for the project to date.

The architectural firm Munger and Munger created plans for the renovation that were unveiled to the parish just before Christmas. The plans involve the creation of two new wings; the relocation of offices; additional seating and handicap accessibility; new insulation; upgraded heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and more energy efficient systems. The renovation is set to begin May 11.

“These structural necessities must be addressed in order to preserve what our parish has worked so hard to achieve over the past 50 years,” said St. Jerome’s pastoral council president, Tony Mass. “Our steering committee has looked at all the options for the land and buildings of St. Jerome. This plan will best utilize the existing parish amenities while creating a vision for a successful future, which includes a beautiful and functional worship space that our parishioners so richly deserve.”

The Ohio Township Association is asking its membership to contact state legislators and ask them to continue reimbursing townships for revenues lost from the phase-out of tangible personal property taxes.

Because townships are heavily reliant on the property tax, “this phase-out will more drastically impact townships than other forms of local government,” the OTA says in an advisory to its members. “We are asking the General Assembly to continue to reimburse township levies at the current rate, or in other words, continue to hold townships harmless.”

The association estimates it will cost the state $27.6 million to continue the reimbursements.

After passing in the House of Representatives, the proposed state operating budget bill for 2016-2017 has been referred to the Senate finance committee.

The bill includes language that would phase out reimbursements for lost revenues that came from taxes levied on tangible personal property and public utilities. Those taxes were phased out as part of the state’s tax reform package enacted about 10 years ago.

About 400 townships are still receiving the reimbursements, according to the OTA.

Using figures from the Ohio Department of Taxation, the OTA estimates Lake Township would receive $102,308 in tangible personal property reimbursement in fiscal year 2016 and $48,642 in fiscal 2017.

Over 300 people helped clean up East Toledo on April 17 and 18.

Jodi Gross, of One Voice, a group of volunteers that meets regularly to discuss issues facing East Toledo, said there were 22 teams who picked up trash in the parks and neighborhoods.

“We worked on Friday during the day, and then Saturday, as part of Global Youth Service Day,” said Gross.

“There are 18 parks in East Toledo. We cleaned up some of the bigger parks. They’re not all functioning parks. Some of the smaller parks we don’t have to spend a lot of time on. Even though we focused on the parks, we got everyone to go into the neighborhoods, including Main Street, to clean up.”

Garbage bags filled with debris were waiting to be picked up by the city. “I think we filled about 100 bags. We worked on making things better in East Toledo for those two days. And we’re not finished yet,” she said.

Although volunteers didn’t have to look hard to find it, there were some sites where garbage wasn’t as obvious to the naked eye.

A crowd of 40 people showed up at the East Toledo Senior Activities Center on White St. to get a chance to vent their concerns to Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, who spent about 90 minutes addressing issues ranging from blighted properties to economic development.

But Hicks-Hudson spent most of the time responding to questions about how to get rid of dilapidated and abandoned buildings in East Toledo.

Many in the crowd had a story to tell about crumbling, sometimes vacant structures that were bringing down their neighborhoods.

For example, someone asked Hicks-Hudson what was being done about the former Masonic Temple at Fourth and Main streets, which has been in bad shape.

“It’s been empty for so long,” said a woman. “There are bricks falling off of it.”

“We don’t have any plans at this point that I’m aware of,” said Hicks-Hudson.

Councilman Mike Craig, who helped field some of the questions, said the building was purchased last year for about $350.

“Unfortunately, they kind of snuck it out from under the Land Bank,” said Craig. The Lucas County Land Bank acquires vacant and abandoned foreclosed buildings to demolish or sell for renovation in an effort to rebuild blighted neighborhoods.

Craig said the owner had no plans to rebuild.

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