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Land Bank to seek federal funds for industrial site cleanup

The Lucas County Land Bank board voted Wednesday to submit a first-time application for a $350,000 share of the city of Toledo’s Community Development Block Grant.

If awarded by Toledo City Council, the money would be spent on two projects: to beautify an abandoned industrial site next to a central Toledo neighborhood and to stabilize five tax-foreclosed properties for home ownership.

The board held a special meeting to consider the application, which it approved by a 7-0 vote with one member absent and Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, a board member representing Toledo, abstaining because of a possible conflict of interest.

The first $225,000 of the application would go to acquire, demolish, and beautify 1678 Norwood Ave., a derelict industrial property that was cleaned up by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009.

“It’s an incredible eyesore. It’s collapsing. It’s actually been under an emergency demolition order since 2018,” said David Mann, the land bank’s president. “Hopefully that emergency gets resolved if in fact there’s funding available to do it.

“This entire site is an opportunity to create a different kind of welcome to the Clinton Park neighborhood,” Mr. Mann said.

Clinton Park is bounded by Bancroft Street, Upton Avenue, Dorr Street, and the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

The application is possible because the city expanded its list of CDBG-eligible properties and agreed to fund stabilization of tax-foreclosed houses.

The city Department of Neighborhoods has been trying to concentrate more funding on blight-removal projects that show the public tangible results and less on administrative expenses. The city expects to receive about $7.5 million in its Community Development Block Grant this year, said city Neighborhoods Director Rosalyn Clemens.

The second portion of the Land Bank’s request is for $125,000 for use to stabilize five abandoned houses so they can be purchased by homeowners. Mr. Mann said the five houses would be found in the Garfield neighborhood in East Toledo or Clinton Park and Secor Gardens in Central Toledo.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz abstained after being advised to do so by the board chairman, Lucas County Treasurer Lindsay Webb. Without citing a legal advisory, Ms. Webb said it would be wise of the mayor to abstain so he would have no appearance of “putting your finger on the scale.” Mr. Kapszukiewicz will be in a position to sign or veto the legislation if it gets through council.

Board member Michael Beazley, Oregon’s city administrator, said it was unclear whether it would be a conflict for the city’s representative to the board to not be able to take part in the debate and the vote.

The land bank’s $30 million grant to demolish abandoned and deteriorating buildings from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency ran out in 2020, forcing the agency to seek out other revenue sources and to focus more on renovation and rebuilding.


Posted By: The Toledo Blade on February 17, 2021.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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