Austin Road/Development/The County View

It seems the Montgomery County Development chief, Joe Tuss, and his boss, County Administrator Debbie Feldman, have a crush on Kevin Costner. They watch the movie “Field of Dreams” over and over and think if they keep saying “Build it and they will come,” they will have success.

The meeting was well attended, with a lot of interest about the location of the new “ice arena” that no one has made a strong case for- yet. In fact, the very idea that building a sports arena, even a successful one, brings other investment needs to be evaluated closely. Look at the “success of 5th/3rd Field” (which Sandy Mendelson called the 7th wonder of the United States) and realize that in terms of net jobs: Brixx opened, an architect redid a factory into apartments and office space, and 10 years later another business is revamping space nearby (Real Art), and in  Woolpert, a major employer of white-collar jobs left for Greene County. Sum total of new jobs- a net loss.

The need for the intersection was justified by current employers in the area of the interchange: Lexis Nexis, New Page and Teradata. To which I responded: all started out in Downtown as Mead or NCR. They talked about future jobs at newer businesses- and I pointed out that there are companies they already gave tax breaks to for new jobs that have not only not produced new jobs- but lost jobs. They said that we need to compete with other intersections by offering more of the same plus an ice rink- to be the “Northern anchor” of I-75 to which others said- “Isn’t that supposed to be downtown?”

We’ve been following the same strategy for years. It hasn’t been working well for us. Government and tax breaks don’t make for sound business foundations- ever. When I pointed to the shell game of moving businesses based on incentives- they belittled my point claiming they offered Teradata and New Page all kinds of deals- and they wouldn’t stay, yet, moving from a high income tax location like Dayton at 2.25% to a zero % tax rate like Washington Township sure is a pretty big carrot to a CEO making an easy two-comma income.

As long as we’re going to make a concession on tax breaks- maybe it’s time to cap the amount of income that can be charged income tax on in any community in Montgomery county to the first $250,000, but have all of them pay 3% on that first $250,000 to try to level the playing field a bit. (btw- pick a number- could be $400,000, same as the US President as well).

Feldman agreed with me about ideas like smart growth, UniGov and more equitable tax plans- but placed the blame on State government. I place it on our local leaders for not pushing the issue harder- instead of talking about pie in the sky ice arenas while basic services go lacking.

There were a lot of interesting people in the crowd- but, I’ve started to see a trend at these meetings: the kings are in the back of the room, and the pawns up front. Mike Ervin doesn’t need a crown and scepter, but, he’s sure being made out to have both.

Also- when asked about doing these deals in back rooms- and having your talking points leaked that disparaged the Dayton Bombers, Feldman got really defensive. Never a good move- admit your mistake in ignoring the existing business in the chase for the ever elusive silver bullet that a true lack of vision demands.

But, the last and most important observation: when asked what impact would happen to Austin Road if the Arena didn’t end up making sense- or being built- if they had a plan B? Answering that you don’t have a plan B- grants you an instant FAIL.

True leadership always has a plan B. Hail Marys only work in Football and in church, growing our community demands more.

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4 Responses

  1. Greg Hunter February 18, 2009 / 11:57 am
    Look just be honest, suburban people do not want to drive downtown, live downtown, but they want a downtown for night life and their kids light out for greener pastures (a place with a nightlife) and these people in charge want to retire to FLA. (God I hope they already bought houses and are underwater, which is probably why the push is on – They Need the Money) So instead of working out the issues, they cut this back room deal and are having the window dressing meetings. Look at Kevin Riley’s blog saying the Region needs it, BS.

    I am sorry I was not there! Ahh well I love to see the squirming. Was there any “walk at the questioner” imposing tactics. I love that one too. Guilt is written all over them.

  2. Gene February 18, 2009 / 3:11 pm
    And by that logic, Urban people do not want to drive to suburbia, live in suburbia, and wish the suburban areas go to hell in a hand basket.

    Not everyone in Montgomery Co (542k people) can live downtown or in the city limits of Dayton. You say stop having kids but it is those within the city limits whose kids are the ones living off the government and creating situations in schools where learning is not taking place. Statistically, most crime in Mont Co comes from DAYTON, not Oakwood or Centerville.

    They want a hockey arena in suburbia – this should be a positive thing bc it promotes hockey, ice time, jobs and all ice related activity. Is that bad? That is what we want for Dayton. So we want the same things and we want the government to pay for it. It seems to me people in suburbia want the same things as those of us who live in Dayton, yet those in suburbia want better schools and less crime.

    I want the hockey arena downtown. Suburban folks want it near them. Same GD argument, is it not? I think it would better serve everyone DT, but let suburban folks dream as well. Heck, I bet they would take care of it better and flip more of the bill.

    Back room deals happen in both places. Stop blaming suburbia – they are in charge of most of the jobs in this area and pay the most taxes in Mont Co. as well. At this rate you want them to cut your grass and build an addition on Dayton homes for free. Please…….. They are regular folks just like us in Dayton, only successful, caring, responsible in comparison to the typical Dayton citizen.

    Those in suburbia are the ones that actually keep Dayton alive. Have you seen the people at Dayton meetings? 100 people there and about 12 of them have a job that is worth anything.

  3. Greg Hunter February 19, 2009 / 3:49 am
    David, The more I think about the more it strikes me that this is the only plan as RG probably has no anchor will commit to any more funding to any type of commercial development. Here is a story from the DBJ concerning a lawsuit over the Austin Road development. In the story they site three other companies in the lawsuit and my question has always been let’s see the transparency in these relationships prior to giving tax money to these groups. Let’s see who is really getting paid.

    GCG Austin Ltd., Wooster Associates and Victory 4 LLC — three companies related to RG Properties — filed a lawsuit Feb. 14, 2003 in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas against the city and its planning commission after the Springboro Planning Commission and Springboro City Council denied the plans.

  4. jack froschauer September 9, 2015 / 3:14 pm
    stumbled onto this ’09 post and discovered immediate that despite being 6 yrs. old, the premise remains the game plan in MoCo. The latest hi roller to espouse the ‘if we build it, they will come’ is MoCo TID director Steve Stanley. His new unplanned obsession is north of Vandalia. A grand plan that ODOT classifies as of no interest which is based on renovating an abandoned rail spur for CSX (tax money, of course) routing it across I-75 terminating at the P&G debacle. No matter that ODOT, Butler Twp. nor Vandalia Council support the plan, Stanley has rounded up Comm. Foley and the deep pocket posse led by MVRPC, Dayton Dev. Coaltion and Chamber Prez. Parker to pursue this guaranteed fail. What’s puzzling is the rationale behind why Stanley, Collins and Tuss refuse to renovate on the urban core in Dayton proper. Rail service exists, warehouses exist, property is way cheaper and the unemployed workers live in those identified inner city zip codes. There’s a word for elitist politico executives that refuse to address the needs in a less desirable yet needy area … there’s a mindset that drives econo development to the suburbs instead of downtown. Let’s just hope that sooner rather than later, Dayton residents will call it for what it is.

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