TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) — Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz delivered his first State of the City address since being elected to run Toledo. He began his speech by supporting a successful city government, and taking a shot at the state and federal level.
"It is not without irony that the first meaningful conversation that we've had in this country in the last twenty years on gun policy is happening because it's being led by children. That's why we're having this conversation."
The mayor discussed several new projects in the works, including several environmental ideas. The city is transferring the Botanical Gardens to the Toledo Metroparks, and will be presenting the final piece of the Manhattan Marsh Project.
He also referenced greater protections for Lake Erie and the Maumee River, in order to prevent algal blooms. He urged the state to join Toledo's fight to protect them.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz said there have been 542 new jobs created since January 1st. He also applauded the fire and police, and their efforts over the past year, saying that there will be a big addition to the police force this year.
"I think Mayor Kapszukiewicz has a really unique, vibrant, strong vision for the city of Toledo, and I'm that there are many new projects happening. And many things that were started before, we're really starting to see the fruit of those labors now. It's a great day for Toledo," said Toledo City Council Member, Nick Komives.
During his speech, he mentioned how in 1919 and 1920, Toledo hosted the two biggest sports championships in the world in boxing and golf. While he wants Toledo to become that same tourist attraction, he does not want it to grow to be too big.
"I want Toledo to be the best city it can be. I mean, bigger isn't necessarily better. I don't want Toledo to be New York City. It's not going to be New York City and I don't want that. I don't want the traffic and congestion. I want Toledo to be what it is."
Here is what the city highlighted about the mayor's speech:
A new “Innovation Partnership” with the University of Toledo, which will work to create better assessments of street conditions, LED streetlight installations, advanced monitors on water meters, and free WIFI.
A new bike share program that will soon take shape in Toledo. Other successful cities have used bike share programs as a supplement to transportation. The city has signed a letter of support with Metroparks Toledo for it to acquire 100 bicycles and 20 stations with the help of a $256,000 grant. Metroparks will buy and install these bikes downtown and in adjacent neighborhoods. Once the bicycles and stations are installed, the city will maintain the program.
The Kapszukiewicz administration will in March present to Toledo City Council the final piece of the Manhattan Marsh Project, which will revitalize an entire neighborhood. This conserved area will be a place to visit, study, float, and walk. This part of Toledo has long been ignored, but now it will be revitalized because of partnerships and collaborations with the federal government, the Lucas County Land Bank, the state of Ohio, and the city’s economic development partners, including the Port Authority and the Regional Growth Partnership. This hard work has resulted in the development of a subsidized apartment living in Crane’s Landing, a new state-of-the-art Firehouse No. 12, Mid American Salt, a Toledo Public Schools STEM school that will work with the Metroparks to teach children about our environment, and the New Horizons Bakery, which is committed to recruiting, training, and hiring residents of that neighborhood.
The Nautical Mile Project is proceeding. The project will improve the stretch between the Anthony Wayne Bridge and the Veterans' Glass City Skyway Bridge. It will become a walkable, art-infused, user-friendly pathway on both sides of the Maumee River.
Talks have begun with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on turning Grassy Island into a park.
Toledo City Council recently approved the Kapszukiewicz administration’s request to transfer the 60-acre Toledo Botanical Garden to the Metroparks. The Metroparks is planning to develop a garden-themed playground envisioned as part of the new Discovery Trail that opened last spring. Metroparks and Toledo Public Schools are in discussions about a partnership to create a new trail through TPS property adjacent to the Garden. There will be opportunities to work with students from Hawkins Elementary and the Frank Dick Natural Science Technology Center to support their science and nature studies.
The city has helped in the creation of 542 new jobs since Jan. 1.
City of Toledo Engineering Services employees in One Lake Erie Center downtown will move to the ground floor of that building so the Eyde Company can more-easily renovate the building into residential units.
The city building inspections department has quicker inspection responses. Most inspections can be planned in one to three days.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz also lauded city employees for their hard work. In 2017, the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department responded to more than 60,000 incidents; a new class of 38 police recruits graduated earlier this year and 40 more will start the police academy later this year in a class that will start earlier than previously-announced, and the Toledo Municipal Court will launch a cutting-edge diversion program developed in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation and funded by the MacArthur Foundation's Justice Plus Safety Challenge, the mayor said.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz called for greater protections for Lake Erie and the Maumee River to prevent harmful algal blooms. He urged all of Ohio’s gubernatorial candidates to join Toledo’s efforts to protect Lake Erie and the Maumee River.
“We want agriculture to do more to protect our most valuable resource, water,” the mayor said. “We will be pushing for that on a state and federal level. Agriculture contributes to this problem and it needs to contribute to the solution Twenty-five years from now, history will judge us for how we cared for the Great Lakes. Our city will be judged on the right side of this question.”
The mayor also called on state leaders to fund the needs of cities like Toledo, which has lost $100 million of funding in about a decade because of changes made by the state of Ohio.
“I wish state government was merely indifferent to the plight of cities like Toledo,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said.
The mayor lauded myriad city partners, including the Toledo Museum of Art, The Toledo Zoo, Metroparks Toledo, the Regional Growth Partnership, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority.