Austin Pike: Where is the Dayton City Commission?

160,000 people are being ignored by the Montgomery County Commission, but, I placce the blame squarely on the shoulders of only five people: The Dayton City Commission and its mad-hatter leader, Mayor Rhine McLin.

Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin withdrew her opposition to the tax and adopted a neutral stance after meeting with county officials. “We just needed some more conversation and understanding of what it was about,” McLin said.

She said she supports the Austin Pike interchange development, but wants to make sure nothing hurts the city or region.

via Proposal for Austin Pike arena runs out of time in 2008.

It took the city years to warm to, and put the Dragons ballpark into play, yet, it seems this whole ice arena plan has been discussed without any participation or involvement of the City of Dayton. And, in case you forgot, wasn’t Mandalay working WITH the city not too long ago on “Ballpark Village” which also had an ice arena as a component?

I’ve received through anonymous sources the letter that the County has been sending out to “inform” Montgomery County “community and business leaders” of this great plan-here is an excerpt:

We strongly believe it is critical that the Austin Interchange development have an anchor amenity to differentiate the location from other developments along the I-75 corridor. We need something to encourage potential companies and employees to look north on 75 and not south. We must create a sense of “place.” Market analysis and ongoing research consistently indicate that an anchor amenity is essential. We believe the proposed event center would be a key catalyst to creating the identity which is so important to the development’s success. Negotiations are ongoing with Mandalay Entertainment, owners of the Dayton Dragons, to explore the potential of a minor league hockey team to serve as the primary tenant of the event center. Additionally, the event center would fill a current gap in the Dayton/Cincinnati arena market providing a mid-size venue for concerts and other entertainment. Another important use of the event center would be to strengthen our county’s competitiveness in the youth sports market.

What they are really saying is we need to divorce ourselves from the brand “Dayton” and put their faith and our money into a new vision- much like the Greene- building an imitation downtown to replace the one we refuse to take care of and nurture.

What’s even more laughable is that they pin their hopes on three businesses that may not be around for long:

Southern Montgomery County is home to some of our largest high tech companies including Lexis Nexis, Teradata and New Page. These companies represent over 4,000 jobs and from a competitive standpoint, they have consistently told us that access to the workforce along the I-75 growth corridor is essential to their staying and growing in the region. The interchange also provides a strong connection to the Miamisburg Mound and redevelopment there that has created over 250 jobs over the last five years. Any successful plan must be based upon a realistic assessment of the current situation. The facts are that over the last ten years, Montgomery County has lost population. However, the counties directly south of us, Butler and Warren, represent some of the fastest growing areas in the state.

Lexis Nexis is in the business of selling access to public records, something that as government catches up with technology will no longer be needed. Teradata makes massive database tools- and while they are one of the top three in the industry, the reality is that as time goes on, massive amounts of data will be handled by desktop machines. The MacPro you can buy for $4,000 today has more power than a Cray supercomputer of 15 years ago. And, the inclusion of New Page as a high tech company is absolutely laughable- they are a maker of paper.

The idea of government picking a location for building a sports complex based on three businesses is a farce. And, if you think back to less than ten years ago, we were handing money over to GM to build a better paint line at the truck plant to insure it stayed- only to be told now, that we have to tear it all down and never allow another car maker to use the site or equipment that we helped pay for.

Reality: in a time when we should be working on eliminating the distinctions between Montgomery County and Dayton- instead, we are working to align our development strategy with sprawl that was created in part by ignoring our core. Now with the total write-off of Downtown, we are hastening the demise of a sustainable city. Putting Springboro on the map isn’t using our core branding very well- but, then again- some people think we’re thinking too small- we should all “get midwest” and forget about Dayton entirely.

And, in fact, with McLin’s “neutral” position and the rest of the Commissions silence on this project, we’re missing an opportunity to balance our baseball season with a hockey season. We’re missing a chance to build an arena that could couple with Oregon District, the Convention Center and the Transportation Center garage to create a year-round attraction. A group of independent business leaders had been meeting with Dayton Bombers owner Costa Papista and Citywide Development Chief Steve Budd- discussing the corner of Fifth and Wayne for an Arena. Other possibilities would be on the Ballpark Village site, or even on Parkside homes location with great visibility from I-75.

It’s a good thing Rhine McLin, Nan Whaley and Joey Williams are up for reelection in 2009. Maybe, we can get three new faces on the Commission that understand that “neutral” isn’t acceptable.

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