Lucas County Land Bank Rejects Plan to save St. Anthony's; Bishop Responds

The Lucas County Land Bank, speaking for Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, rejected the plan that was laid out by Toledo Catholic Diocese Bishop Daniel Thomas to save the aging St. Anthony church on Nebraska Avenue. 

The plan, as laid out by the Diocese on Tuesday, would have had the church donate the property to the Mayor and Congresswoman, in exchange for some funding to help pay the demolition firm that was contracted to tear down the building. They had asked for a response within 48 hours.

The Lucas County Land Bank has countered that plan, asking for 15 days to inspect the building to see if it is actually structurally viable to restore. They also ask that the Diocese would provide "likely no less than $300,000" to help fund the preservation and restoration of the building.

Bishop Daniel Thomas responded Wednesday afternoon to the Land Bank's rejection. 

In a letter to Land Bank president David Mann, Bishop Thomas offered another counter-proposal where he offered to gift the church and surrounding land to the Lucas County Land Bank.

"Given the intense interest in the building expressed over the last week by various civic officials and realizing the demands social justice impresses upon us to keep the covenants we have made, the Diocese of Toledo will itself provide for the entire cost it asked Mayor Kapszukiewicz to share in paying, thereby allowing the Lucas County Land Bank to accept the building and land on which the former Saint Anthony Church is located. This, then, can be considered the donation of support from the Diocese of Toledo toward the "maintenance and preservation strategy." In short, I am offering the building and the land on which it sits as an outright gift to the Lucas County Land Bank," Bishop Thomas wrote. He set a deadline of 5:00pm on Thursday, June 7 for the Land Bank to respond. 

Bishop Thomas also corrected what he called "factual errors" in Mr. Mann's letter. He denied requesting that the City of Toledo pay the cost to back out of the contract with the demolition company. Instead, the Bishop says he "invited Mayor Kapszukiewicz to at least fulfill the commitment to the demolition firm" in order to support the workers who were relying on that income. 

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