Neighborhood Nuisance: turning dumping grounds into community spaces

Vistula neighborhood residents take matters into their own hands to bring new life to vacant lots, but they're looking for help to keep it up.
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 1:19 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Louis Morales has lived in his Vistula neighborhood home for 8 years. He says neighbors park cars and dump junk onto vacant lots in the community.

“They climb up on the curb, they park in the lots themselves. They use the curbs as a driveway. The city needs to do something about those lots,” says Morales. “There are places for those things and if you can’t afford to put them in a place they should be, then you shouldn’t have them.”

Morales says he takes pride in his home and wishes the rest of the community did the same.

“I take care of mine because if I don’t, they come and give me the business about it. I wish somebody would step up and start doing their job.”

After years of making complaints, Morales and a few neighbors took matters into their own hands. The group began buying vacant lots and turning them into green spaces.

“We’ve taken it from an empty lot that was being used for trailers and roofing equipment, to putting trees in it, fencing in it, there are flagpoles,” says Morales. “People thought this was a park, it’s just a green space for people to enjoy.”

Morales says he wants more lots in the community to be turned into green spaces, but he says they cannot do it alone. They hope more neighbors join them and hope the city keeps a closer eye on the street.

The City of Toledo says it is often an education process for property owners. Many homeowners think they can do whatever they want on land they own, but that is not the case. There is strict regulation on not only what you can park on a lot, but also where and how it’s parked.

“Whether you own the place or rent it, keep the place up,” says Morales. “We can have a little pride in who we are here. You don’t have to be rich to be clean. We don’t have to be smart to have a nice house.”

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