New Department of Parks, Youth Services appears headed for approval

·2 min read

May 18—Toledo City Council is poised to approve a revised new department that will place a priority on the city's youth.

Councilman Cecelia Adams during an agenda-review meeting Tuesday proposed creating a Department of Parks and Youth Services, rather than the Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth Services, and Educational Engagement shot down by Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz in March.

Her intention all along has been for Toledo to play a stronger role in ensuring its young people grow up in a city that supports them and provides meaningful opportunities for leisure, work, and education.

The new department is a compromise between city council and the administration and will have a starting budget of about $400,000 "for salaries and comprehensive strategy development," Ms. Adams said. The department will create four open positions, including a director. The other three will be the commissioner of parks, recreation, and community enrichment; commissioner of youth services; and commissioner of educational engagement and workforce development.

"We will be looking for highly qualified staff members to think, plan, and organize programming for these critical areas," Ms. Adams said.

Abby Arnold, the city's deputy chief of staff, said Ms. Adams has the administration's support on this iteration, and she is looking forward to developing meaningful programming once the new department's staff is in place.

"I think what it does is it places the priority on our youth and our future. By making it its own department with its own vision and focus, it sets it as a priority of this administration," Ms. Arnold said. "If we want this community to thrive, we have to put a priority on the youth."

Council is scheduled to vote on the measure next Tuesday.

In other business, Councilmen Theresa Gadus and Katie Moline introduced legislation that would require short-term rentals, such as Airbnb and Vrbo sites, to obtain a city permit in order to legally operate. Both said the proposed regulations are intended to help keep neighborhoods safe and operators accountable.

Ms. Gadus said residents have raised concerns about large, disruptive house parties, and she believes the proposal offers a solution to the problem without being overly restrictive on property owners who offer short-term rental services.

"We really focus on guidelines for safety and communication," she said. "I think that this will not only benefit and support neighbors and strong neighborhoods, but the tenants and the guests as well."

Councilman Rob Ludeman expressed concern about the impact increased regulations could have on lodging options for the tens of thousands of visitors expected in the Toledo area for the upcoming Solheim Cup golf tournament.

"This ordinance is not designed to be disruptive or punitive. It really is to help prevent or eliminate the nuisances we've noticed and been told about by residents," Ms. Moline said.

Should council approve the measure next week, permit requirements would apply to residential units rented for 30 days or less.

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