transforming landfills into community spaces

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Louis Morales has lived in his house in the Vistula district for 8 years. He says neighbors park cars and dump trash on vacant lots in the community.

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

Morales says he is proud of his home and wants the rest of the community to do the same.

“I take care of mine because if I don’t, they come and give me the case. I wish someone would step in and start doing their job.

After years of filing complaints, Morales and a few neighbors have taken matters into their own hands. The group began to buy vacant land and turn it into green spaces.

“We took it from an empty lot that was used for trailers and roofing equipment, to put trees there, fences, there are flag poles,” Morales explains. “People thought it was a park, it’s just green space for people to enjoy.”

Morales says he wants more land in the community turned into green space, but he says they can’t do it alone. They hope more neighbors will join them and hope the city keeps a closer watch on the street.

The City of Toledo says this is often an educational process for property owners. Many landlords think they can do whatever they want with land they own, but that’s not the case. There are strict regulations on not only what you can park on, but also where and how it is parked.

“Whether you own the place or rent it out, keep the place up,” Morales says. “We can be a bit proud of 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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