Council OK’s demolition of Auto-Lite

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Before the holidays, the Toledo council was in no mood to dilly-dally with lengthy debates on controversial issues.

As a result, the council members pushed quickly through their lengthy agenda, finishing in less than two hours, but delaying some of its most controversial matters to future meetings.

Among the issues held:

* A controversial gun lock ordinance.

* Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s proposed 60-day moratorium on demolition permits.

* The design of the expanded Superior Street parking garage.

* The $6.2 million sale of 213 acres of city land in Monclova Township.

* A resolution of support for the unionizing of migrant laborers.

Council did find time to approve a few important pieces of legislation, including the allocation of $150,000 in capital budget funds for the demolition of the former Auto-Lite plant in North Toledo.

The city’s $150,000 will join $100,000 from the state government, $150,000 from the federal government, and $100,000 pledged by the Lucas County commissioners.

“I think it’s remarkable that you have all four levels of government supporting this project,” Councilman Peter Gerken said.

The council also voted unanimously to support new restrictions on how the mayor can spend money the city gets through a 1997 agreement with Toledo Edison.

In exchange for the city’s support for Toledo Edison’s merger with FirstEnergy Corp., the utility agreed to pay the city $1.2 million a year for five years for economic development purposes.

Since the agreement, Mr. Finkbeiner has spent the money without council approval. The city charter requires all city expenditures over $10,000 be approved by council, but the mayor claims that the money never entered city coffers, and thus can be spent however the mayor wants.

The ordinance, which was approved 11-0, would require council approval for the spending of any Edison money.

“It is sad that the mayor chooses not to follow the law of the land and of the city of Toledo,” Councilman Gene Zmuda said. “He is choosing to violate the law here. It shows a complete lack of respect for this council.”

Mr. Gerken also pointed out that the original Edison merger agreement set aside half the total of $6 million for electric rate relief for small businesses. He said the mayor hasn’t done that.

Council also approved a 20-year lease of city-owned land at 311 Wade St. to a group that wants to create a youth hostel near Central Union Terminal.

It also approved a resolution thanking the Northwest Ohio Carpenters Union Apprenticeship Class for construction of a small wooden stand for children to stand on when testifying before council.

The last half hour of the last meeting of 1998 was given over to honoring outgoing Councilwoman Jeanine Perry, who will resign her seat on Jan. 3 to become the state representative for District 50.

Council honored her with a resolution thanking her from her service. Because she was still a member of council, Mrs. Perry had to vote on it. She voted yes.

The Lucas County Democratic Party has chosen Wade Kapszukiewicz to take Mrs. Perry’s seat.