Statement From Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz Regarding $30 Million Investment in Youth

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Despite best efforts and best intentions, sometimes human beings get their wires crossed and their messages mixed. It happens to all of us, and it can even happen among friends.

Without question, that is what happened with the recent ordinance to restructure the Parks Dept.

Everyone at City Hall agreed on the goal, but in the excitement to improve programs for our youth, we forgot to cross all our T’s and dot all our I’s.

I’m not sure precisely where the miscommunication began, but as Mayor, I will take the responsibility. The buck stops with me. I should have done a better job explaining the process to members of City Council, so they would not have felt so confused as they cast their votes.

Mistakes were made, but here’s the good news: they are easy to fix.

As we move forward, we have two opportunities to work together and make life-changing investments in our kids.

First, let’s finish the work Dr. Adams began by restructuring the Parks Dept. I know Councilmembers Williams and Whitman, to name just two, are also excited about serving on the working group to make recommendations on how best to shape the new Department. I’m sure other Councilmembers will be anxious to serve on that committee as well.

Secondly, and much more importantly, let’s use the opportunity provided by the American Rescue Plan to make historic investments in our kids. While I plan to release the details of my full plan next week, I can announce tonight my intention to spend $30 million on programs that directly benefit our youth.

This opportunity is truly historic. A $30 million investment in youth programs — everything from recreation and education to a large-scale summer jobs program — is 7x more than we currently spend on our entire Parks Dept budget. Clearly, this is where our focus should be.

We will never again have a chance like this to help the youth of our City. Dr. Adams has devoted her life to this work, and her input on this process will be invaluable.

Council President Matt Cherry will also play an important role, since he too has worked tirelessly to make sure every child in Toledo has access to high-quality recreation and educational opportunities.

We can’t change the past, including the mistakes and misunderstandings that frustrated us over the past few weeks. But we can build a brighter future for Toledo’s kids with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I know we will rise to meet the challenge.