South Park is alive and well.

Historic South Park Jazz FestivalRob Podiak said it best, “After living here for 15 years, this is finally becoming the neighborhood I’ve always wanted to live in” as we were running back to his house to pick up more all-beef hot dogs for the grill he was running to feed the volunteers at the first annual Historic South Park Jazz Festival.

With the AIA 150 architectural plan complete, Rehabarama II coming in a few days- and with an amazing central location, unique homes, walking distance to Miami Valley Hospital, University of Dayton, the Oregon District and downtown- Historic South Park is the best place to live in Dayton.

You can see some great photos of the event at the Dayton Daily News site here:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/p/content/gen/sharedoh/photos_galleries/entertainment/events/093007jazzfest.html 

Free Jazz concert in Dayton today!

Looking for something to do in Dayton today? How about a free Jazz Concert in South Park on the boulevard. Starts around 1pm- goes till 9pm or so. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket- and a cooler- and camp out.

It’s a prelude to Rehabarama which is coming next week.

And don’t forget the “Get Urban” program coming Thursday Oct 4 at the Webster Street Market. It’s free too, but they’d like you to register.

SportsPlex in Huber Heights?

Instead of being a crown jewel of Dayton- for all to see, and all to use, in a central, highly visible location, building on the strengths of RiverScape, Kettering Fields, Island Park and the coming Kroc Center- SportsPlex is going to be stuffed away in Huber Heights.

It won’t be the central place for kids in Dayton to congregate (away from Third and Main), it won’t have easy RTA access from anywhere, and it won’t contain world class facilities- for swimming, or ice skating/hockey, velodrome, etc.

It’s obvious that this must be a good idea- because it’s being pursued by the private sector in Huber- while instead, the Dayton City Commission is more interested in kissing up to private developers to give us cookie cutter big box and McMansions on prime real estate downtown.

Here is part of the Huber story:

Youth sports complex envisioned in Huber Heights
Several volunteer youth sports organizations are banding together to develop a 114-acre youth sports multiplex in northern Montgomery County.

Huber Heights’ Wayne Pee Wee Football Association purchased the land, bounded by Chambersburg, Fishburg, Rip Rap and Endicott roads in 1999 from Martin Marietta Materials for about $300,000.

President Mike Milligan said since that time, the association has looked at several plans and prepared for development. Between fundraisers, bingo proceeds and a mortgage against the land, they have about $305,000 to start.

If that sounds ambitious for a small all-volunteer organization, Milligan said it also represents the demand for youth sports programs.

“They’ve always been around, but it wasn’t near the magnitude or size it is now,” Milligan said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a board that bought into long-term goals and wanted to accomplish something for all our kids, not just their own.”

The proposed plan partners with Wayne Warriors Soccer Club, purchasing 50 acres on land contract, Dayton Metro Youth Basketball Program and Huber Heights Youth Baseball and Little League. Together, they serve about 5,000 children each year.

The biggest obstacle is the cost to improve roads and tap into sewers.

The land is in Dayton and could use wells for a water source. But most of the roadway is in Huber Heights and sewers would have to come from the Tri Cities Wastewater Authority, owned by Huber Heights, Vandalia and Tipp City…

SportsPlex downtown would be a boon to sports tourism, supporting downtown hotels, restaurants, and other shops, in Huber, there aren’t even roads.

It’s time to get serious about what we want downtown and what kind of unique solutions are we prepared to pursue.

Wacko mail update- Reward!

I’ve posted before about my wacko mail. I’m not the only one who gets it- Larry Jaffe at Jaffe Jewelers is also one of the frequent targets. Never mind, Mayors, heads of quasi-government organizations, restaurant owners the list goes on. This is part of what I wrote a while back:

Wacko mail at Esrati
For years I’ve gotten bizzaro mail from someone who likes to pose as other people. The same bad handwriting, odd, ransom note type cut and paste jobs, often mailed with a Cincinnati cancellation on the stamp.

It’s started up again. So, here are some clues Larry and I have put together- if you know someone who you think fits this profile, let me know.

Probably:

  • Male, Age 55-65
  • Lives in Oakwood now.
  • Comes from money (or has it now)
  • Get the NYT on Sunday.
  • Has some reason to travel to Oregon (some clippings from the Oregonian).
  • Went to Fairview High School
  • Gets the Dayton Jewish Observer, but may not be Jewish.
  • Has been to Australia.
  • Does business in Cincinnati (or travels there frequently)
  • Makes the rounds of the better restaurants (Carvers, Pine Club, Oakwood Club, Madisons)
  • Has a photo copier
  • Has juvenile handwriting

Any suggestions? I may make it worth your while.

On “Saving Downtown”

Obviously, with a little promotion, and a little money, it’s possible to get thousands of people downtown to enjoy the city. Twice a year, the Downtown Dayton Partnership earns their keep.

So- how do we get the “Urban Nights” feel to be every night? Here are some answers: Continue reading

Sinclair enrollment down? Rocket scientists can’t figure it out.

Two things that the jedi masters at Sinclair and in the County Administration Building haven’t figured out:

  • Sprawl makes it harder to bring people togther.
  • Deregulation gives people more choices- at first.

So, because we’ve let sprawl run amok, the effective costs of going to Sinclair rise with higher gas prices. And, when you let Clark State build a building right across from WSU- you will lose some students. Not only that, when you start wasting time and energy pursuing a new campus in Warren County- you stop focusing on delivering top quality to the people who brung you to the dance- the people of Montgomery County.

So, this is an “I told you so” article:

Sinclair reports 4.5 percent drop in downtown students
DAYTON — Sinclair Community College is analyzing a slow slide in its enrollment as declining population in Montgomery County and the city of Dayton appears to be draining its downtown Dayton campus.

A preliminary headcount on Tuesday shows a 4.5 percent drop for the college’s Dayton campus compared to fall last year, said Robert Johnson, senior vice president for Sinclair.

While a new campus in Warren County and two learning centers elsewhere in Montgomery County have added students, the downtown campus drop overshadowed that growth, bringing total headcount down 1.7 percent overall, Johnson said.

Sinclair will not officially report specific headcounts until Sept. 19, but shared the estimates at a board of trustees meeting Tuesday.

Sinclair’s headcount in fall 2006 was 22,786 students, of which 15,128 attended the downtown campus.

“We’ve been sliding since 2003,” Johnson said. “Part of the problem is demographics, and part of it is local economics.”

Sinclair has seen “conspicuous” decreases among in-county, part-time, female and evening students and students ages 20-29, according to Johnson’s 2007-08 strategic plan released to trustees Tuesday.

The enrollment drop creates a challenge for the college, trustees said, given that Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut have asked Sinclair and other Ohio colleges to grow enrollment by 30 percent in the next 10 years.

The mandate is part of Strickland’s effort to increase the number of Ohioans pursuing four-year degrees.

“We have some serious threats out there,” said Ethel Washington-Harris, Sinclair trustee and chair of the subcommittee that reviewed the enrollment report.

Competition from Springfield-based Clark State University’s new campus in Beavercreek, which opens this fall, may draw some of Sinclair’s 2,300 students who commute from Greene County, the report said.

Sinclair plans to study the drops, and will create an aggressive strategic plan to grow enrollment by 3 percent or about 700 students each year, Johnson said.

After years of growth, despite horrible marketing (the “starting here” thing suggests it’s not a serious place of higher learning- sort of like a “starter marriage”) and relying on its low per-credit cost- Sinclair is now facing the reality: when there are other options, their value isn’t readily accepted.

Had the college concentrated on better communications, better utilization of facilities, working with mass transit options to move students to and from campus instead of building new buildings- enrollment wouldn’t be dropping. Had Sinclair actively worked to allow Dayton DMA residents- instead of only Montgomery County residents- attend at the in-county rate, the Clark State threat wouldn’t have happened.

What would a high-speed rail line from Middletown done to increase enrollment? And workforce mobility? Compared to building a new campus?

We need to think bigger and more holistically if we want to grow our community resources and social capital.

City-run day care as an economic development essential?

Twice in the last few days- my idea from 1993 for City-run day care as an economic development tool have popped up- once when Christopher Gardner said that the cost of child care was the biggest issue in breaking out of homelessness- and then when I see Dr. Percy Mack, Superintendent of the Dayton Public Schools- crying out for better preschool:

Superintendent urges funding for better preschools
DAYTON — Up to $5 million a year should be committed to improving preschool to get far more children ready to start school by kindergarten, City schools Superintendent Percy Mack said Tuesday.

More than half that amount is available in state and federal grants but the city cannot access it because it lacks an infrastructure for programs that could improve preschool instruction, he told a joint meeting of the school board and City Commission.

Mack said a recent study by the Montgomery County Family and Children First Council showed 80 percent of new kindergarten pupils in the city are not school-ready when they arrive. The countywide figure is 67 percent.

That means they don’t know the most basic things a 5-year-old should know — the alphabet, their names, how to repeat a sentence they’ve been told. The test the city uses to assess readiness has 29 questions; 19 correct are required to pass. Mack said some pupils in the district get no questions right.

“We must make a turnaround,” he said. “If they are behind when they start, they don’t catch up.”

Children are behind, the study showed, because too few child care providers offer academically enriching care.

“Many of our child care providers are not certified,” Mack said. “They are aunts and sisters and friends who are keeping four or five kids who are eating, sleeping and playing all day. There is no academic work or social development going on.”

Parents also don’t always know that it is vital for learning to take place during day care or what makes a quality preschool program.

“If the kids are safe at the end of the day and they can take them home, they think the day care people did their job,” Mack said. “Folks, that’s not enough.”

To combat these problems, Mack said the county needs a system to monitor and promote preschool. Child care centers should get report card ratings based on standards just like schools to help parents make good choices, he said. The county also needs an awareness campaign and a resource center to help parents make good choices. With $420,000 spent over the next 16 months, Mack said the county could receive $2.8 million in annual funding for the program by 2010.

Mayor Rhine McLin said she supports the idea of improved early childhood education but the city is not in a position to provide money.

Here is what I said on my campaign literature way back when:

HOW SUBSIDIZED DAY CARE WILL CREATE TAX REVENUE
Jobs aren’t coming here because our effective tax rate is one of the highest in the state. We don’t offer any thing that makes it more affordable to do business in the City. What we have is a surplus of single parent workers, ready to work if they had great affordable childcare. Besides health care costs, day care is the second toughest obstacle for many employers. We can fix that, and create a win-win situation in Dayton.
The subsidy would be based on a formula of your income level, residency and where you worked. If you live and work in the city and make less than $25,000 a year you would pay less than an hour’s pay per week per child. If you only lived or worked in the city, you would pay twice the above.
High quality, available, subsidized day care will be an incentive for new business to locate here, and for dual wage earner families to return to the city. This means more tax dollars, and more jobs.

Not much has changed since then- our tax rate is still high, we still have a surplus of single parent workers, and we don’t have a compelling point of why it is better to do business in the city.

Anybody out there have a better idea?

And the “Department of Homeland Security”….

It makes me wonder how well we are fighting the “war on terror” when we can’t even track who should, and who shouldn’t have a driver’s license across State lines.

Dexter S. Moore isn’t exactly a common name, in Google it turns up 22 hits- mostly for his Dad, Dr. Dexter S. Moore- yet, this maniac on the roads was able to get an Ohio driver’s license, access to a Mercedes Benz- and have a girlfriend- all so he could recklessly kill a 17 year old getting off a school bus?

Moore not entitled to license
Highway safety advocates say a lack of coordination among state motor vehicle bureaus is a big reason high-risk drivers like Moore fall through the cracks. In the last 10 years, Moore had garnered at least eight speeding violations in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. During that period, his license had been suspended three times.

Yes, even though we’ve spent $500 billion on a war, to find and kill the great “evil doer” Bin Laden, we can’t manage to keep a driver’s license away from an idiot, right here in the USA.

South Park Rising: Cliburn to finally be demolished.

Good news today from the DBJ:

Dayton apartment complex to be demolished – Dayton Business Journal:
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Special Application Center has approved the demolition of the Cliburn Manor, an apartment complex in Dayton.

Greg Johnson, executive director of the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority, said demolition on the complex will begin late next summer once all of the residents are moved out.    …

The DMHA will have meetings with the city and community partners to talk about possible redevelopment options but has not set a meeting date yet, Johnson said.

The Cliburn Manor, located at 111 Hickory St., has 80 units which have been plagued with many issues such as moisture penetration and sewer main problems.

Johnson said repairing all of the issues in the 38-year-old building would cost around $15.7 million…

Coupled with the recent spurt of private investment culminating in Rehabarama II for South Park, the AIA plan, our great community involvement, the recent investments on Brown Street and in Fairgrounds- all point to South Park being the next big thing in urban, walkable communities in Dayton- and that’s without Kroger moving forward on their plans.

Plus, you get to be neighbor. Buy now!

September 11, 2001- a look back

I didn’t have a blog then. Instead, I wrote an e-mail, sent it to everyone I know- and it ended up in the DDN with someone else’s name attached.

It was how I felt that day.

To my fellow Americans,
Today, my country was attacked.
Not by warriors flying under their colors-
Or by armies of men fighting for what they believe –
But by faceless cowards, who think that what they believe in means a damn thing.
While many of us believe in a higher power- it is universally accepted that a higher power is a positive force. These idiots somehow think that what they do here on earth will bring them glory in the eyes of their higher power. They are mistaken.
Only madmen believe that acts of evil are somehow redeeming.
I grieve for those who have died today.
They weren’t warriors, they were innocent people with families, children, parents, friends- they were like you and me, they were Americans.
Many of us identify ourselves by what we do, what our color is, who are favorite football team is or where we hail from in our grand country. We are a diverse bunch, but when things like this happen- we must remember, we are all Americans.
We have our differences- but while some madman is jumping up and down with glee thinking he has stuck a mortal blow, we must all come together and reaffirm: We will not bow, we will not flinch, we will not change our way of life.
We are Americans and we accept all challenges to our way of life with dignity. We are not ashamed of what we do, we do not hide behind an imagined moral righteousness, we believe in the words of our pledge: liberty and justice for all.
We have faced greater evil by men more mad, we have fought the world’s battles and won. We have become the most powerful nation in the world not by anything other than our shared resolve to be a place where freedom is sacred, and the rights of the individual come first.
If this e-mail by chance ends up in the hands of those responsible for today’s act of cowardice, and I hope it does. I welcome you to my neighborhood. You will find the finest people on the planet. You can walk safely in the company of people from all races, religions and socio-economic status. And when you do- you can come and find me- and tell me to my face why you did this- and you can bring your sword, wave it in my face, tell me all the reasons why you think you had a right to kill my brethren, and then try your luck on someone who wasn’t sitting in an office, minding their own business, doing their small part in the play called life.
You may win, you may lose, but if I die, there will be millions more just like me who will take your challenge and in the end you will die, and no one will shed a tear.
You will go down in the annals of history as just another petty punk who thought you were more important than the rest of us sharing this planet.
Rest assured, that the more of us you kill, the more we will stand united in our belief in our way of life, and it will continue.
If you decide to show your face- be prepared to meet your higher power, because we are and will continue to be proud Americans.

My name is David Esrati, 113 Bonner St, Dayton OH 45410

You may add your name to the list and forward this- we will not bow, we will not flinch, we will not change our way of life.

Unfortunately, I believe we have changed our way of life due to these maniacs, and in doing so, have given them more time, energy and credit than they deserve.

The simple fact that we’re fighting in Iraq, while Bin Laden is sitting in a cave sending video greetings, says somehow we got off course.

We’ve given up some of our personal freedoms because of made for TV terrorism. Never mind that more damage was done by Hurricane Katrina, and more Americans kill other Americans every year with guns or driving drunk- somehow, we’ve let the terrorists take our eyes off the prize- freedom and liberty for all.

If only we had a time machine, and could turn back the clock- and have stopped those planes from crashing into the World Trade Center towers. If the passengers had taken over like we believe they did on United Flight 93. How would our country be different?

Our President has squandered all the good will we had that day on a reckless and dangerous policy in Iraq, of which we’re now told, we can’t get out of.

Our national debt is soaring, thanks to the cost of a war with no end in sight. And, more Americans have died in Iraq- and continue to die in Iraq, than the number who died on 9/11.

We have changed our way of life. All because of the actions of 20+ mad men.

How do we change it back?