Monday, July 01, 2013
Toledo has a stand-alone piece of property along the the Anthony Wayne Trail where a YMCA used to be. They plan to lease it for five years to a group of people who want to create a dog park. The total cost of the five-year lease would be $5.
That's all the citizens of Toledo would get for a four-acre parcel which is valued by the County Auditor at $100,900.
While I understand the strong emotions that dog owners have for their pets, even to the point of considering the same as children (and treating them as such), the lease amount is not in the best interests of ALL Toledoans.
Like with pools that cater to the 2% and other targeted services, the city is allowing a special interest to have a deal to the detriment of the rest of the citizens.
According to the article in the paper, everyone has a dog park so we should, too.
I'm sure all of have our mother's voice going off in head right now asking us if everyone else was jumping off a bridge....
But whether or not Toledo enters an exclusive club by having a dog park where owners can bring their dogs to run around and play with other pets is not the question.
The question is the cost and whether or not anyone else could get a similar deal - or whether, if the property was offered on the open market, would anyone else pay more? What is the fair market value of this property and isn't that the price Toledoans deserve?
The obligation of the mayor and council is not to cater to a special interest, but to do what is in the best interests of all of Toledo.
According to the Auditor's website, there are 64,124 licensed dogs in the county. The website doesn't give a breakdown by city so in checking Census.gov, it appears that the Toledo population is 65% of the county. So if dog licenses hold the same percentage, there are 41,680 licensed dogs in Toledo.
Now, I realize that not all owners get a license for their dogs and many owners have than one pet, so for the sake of argument let's say there are 40,000 people with at least one dog inside the city limits. That's only 14% of the population.
Is it in the best interest of the 86% of people who don't own dogs for the city to grant this ridiculously low price for lease? No.
Here's a better idea: Announce to the world that the city is interested in leasing the land and see who else might want it and what they'd be willing to pay for it. I'm certain there are plenty of operations that would offer $20 a year - or maybe what the property is actually worth.
Or, if the city is intent upon continuing to cater to the 14%, at least get more than $5.
The dog park plans to charge between $35-50 per dog for a year's access. Why not take a percentage or set amount of the fee charged for the lease? Tack on $5 of that yearly fee for leasing the property and only grant the lease when the ToledoUnleashed.org has proof of a targeted number of memberships, or whatever they're calling them.
At least the people who are paying more in terms of the trash tax, increased water rates and continuous "temporary" income tax would be getting something rather than less than a pittance for the use of public property. You can bet if this was a oil or gas drill they wanted to place there plenty of people would screaming at the idea of a buck a year.