I believe that the fastest way to success is to build on strengths. Find the stuff that’s good, easy, strong- and build on it. So, when I say the proposed “Ballpark Village” is a mistake- some of you are going to scratch your heads and quickly say “Esrati is an idiot.”
So- let me explain: Regionally, our population isn’t growing. We’re overbuilt in retail. Dayton, the city proper, has many vacant homes and lots available. Dayton proper, and the region to a lesser degree, has a sever inferiority complex and poor self-esteem. So when the owners of the Dayton Dragons, one of our few “success stories” comes in and says we want to build a $230 million dollar project- to surround and enhance our existing successful development (also paid for by taxpayers) with a lot of public money, somehow we forget all the other issues and jump on the bandwagon without considering any of the other factors. We’re “building on success.”
This is the same strategy the driving forces of the Schuster Center used- Mrs. Kettering, Mr. Danis and Mead wanted something nice on the corner across from their real estate, and convinced the people that the old Lazurus, Shillito Rikes, etc building must be torn down and the gleaming Schuster Center was built- to their benefit- not to ours. Note: had the Schuster Center been built in close proximity to the Convention Center and the Oregon District- we wouldn’t be losing restaurants for lack of business downtown, and we would have had an additional venue for Conventions- with a large hall for speakers. Had we also built 5/3rd Field at Fifth and Wayne- we would have had even more customers to support our only true “entertainment district” in the city.
So- why should Ballpark Village not get your support? Because we don’t need townhouses on Deed’s point or a Walmart on Parkside homes location. Nor do we need to tear down 3 functioning buildings to replace them with something else. Requarth lumber and Woolpert’s building are both fine buildings- as are Mendelsons old Delco factories- which could all be used and adapted to do the same thing: housing upstairs, retail downstairs, office space in-between on the 2nd and 3rd floors. We could add a “New Urbanist” parking garage with retail and entertainment on the first floor- and Rooftop “sky bars” etc. The Dayton Public Schools could keep their plan of building a new Central Montessori School by the river for the downtown residents who currently fight to get into E. J. Brown- and last but not least, we could add things downtown that don’t exist- anywhere else in the area that make sense and bring people into the core city- not just locally- but nationally.
This comes back to my Sportsplex proposal for the Parkside location, building on the “strength” of Kettering Fields as a destination for national and international softball tournaments, building on the strengths of our bike paths- with a Velodrome- and tying in with the new Kroc/Salvation Army basketball center.
We could also build a ice arena near the Ballpark- to give businesses that depend on ballpark traffic a balancing venue for the Winter months. Bring the Bombers downtown, as well as provide a Class A venue for the Silversticks tournament and the Lefty McFadden tourney. Instead of building a lame covered outdoor rink on Riverscape- we could have a real facility- that provides a facility that can be used by the community- 24/7 unlike the ballpark.
Yes, I’m biased because I play hockey, and occasionally work for the Bombers- full disclosure, but it’s always been my position that tax dollars should be used to build things that benefit the taxpayer- giving them amenities that the private sector can’t do on their own- or at least as well. We don’t need more retail, or townhouses that benefit a group of carpet baggers from California (Mandalay Entertainment/Development) as much as we need resources for our community to feel good about and utilize year round, which a Sportsplex would do.
I do believe that Mandalay has been a strong addition to our community, and believe they should be given some support- but, I believe the way to do that is to provide for heavy incentives to redevelop what we have- instead of replace. If we could work together to examine other options – instead of blindly running after the dangling carrot of “development” we may be able to create something bigger and better than Mandalay’s plan- so we don’t have the debacle of Schuster’s and the ballparks misplacement happening again.
What do you think?
(and I’m sure that saying “Esrati is still an idiot” is going to come up)