Mayor refuses to tour United Way building with mediaWritten by Justin R. Kalmes | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Local media were denied access to a tour of the United Way headquarters this afternoon after Mayor Carty Finkbeiner refused to walk through the building if members of the press accompanied him.
Bill Kitson, the local United Way’s president and CEO, asked the press to not accompany Finkbeiner and Byron West, the building’s architect, on the tour after the mayor insisted on having a private walkthrough. Before Finkbeiner arrived, Kitson told members of the media that all tours of the building were open.
“The mayor put me in a no-win situation,” Kitson said.
After the closed-door tour, Finkbeiner said he would ask United Way’s board to put a two- to three-year moratorium on its plan to demolish the building after a new headquarters for the agency is built. The mayor vowed to help find a user for the structure at One Stranahan Square, saying he is “willing to bet” someone would move into the building before the moratorium expires.
Finkbeiner said he would not propose using city tax dollars to pay for the building’s maintenance while the moratorium is in place. Should the board fail to act on his request, Finkbeiner said, “We’ll deal with that when that comes forward.”
The mayor said the final decision on whether the building is razed would ultimately rest with the community.
Kitson agreed the importance in making the right decision for the citizens United Way serves, but said the agency has not received an outcry from the public on its plan to demolish the building.
West, who traveled from Northern Michigan to take the tour, said the building is “structurally as good as any building Downtown.” He did acknowledge the structure had significant mechanical and code issues.
Despite Finkbeiner’s goal of sparing the building from the wrecking ball, Kitson said the fact remains no financial solution has been presented by anyone — the mayor included — on how United Way could do so. He said the agency spends $400,000 per year to maintain the building.
Kitson said United Way hopes to submit its plan to construct a new headquarters and raze the building it currently occupies to the Toledo Plan Commission by the end of the month.
See the links below to read Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller’s commentary on the United Way building issue.
Controversy exemplifies how Toledo is blocked
Another block in the wall, part III