Over 20 years ago I was sitting on a dive boat with some people from NYC. I was telling them about my house I bought for $14,500-
“$14,500? That’s what I pay a year for my parking spot” said one.
“Did it come on a trailer” asked another.
I went on to describe my 2-story, 1,700 sq ft, frame Victorian half-cross, with a 2-car garage and a parking pad- and a fenced yard.”
You could almost see the steam rising out of their ears as the gears computed what they were getting in NYC- for a hell of a lot more.
But, it’s Dayton Ohio- was their final verdict- not knowing anything about Dayton- other than maybe they’d done business with NCR, Reynolds and Reynolds, GM, Mead or fed their dog Iams. They might know about WPAFB- but have no clue about our bountiful water supply, our amazing 5 Rivers Metroparks, top notch schools like Oakwood HS or Stivers. Or our orchestra, ballet or DCDC (that sells out in NYC all the time).
So, when they read about Dayton in today’s New York Times- they’ll still think we’re a broken down shanty town, falling apart as we try to save ourselves a $2 million lawn care bill- clearing the empty lots as the last few souls leave town.
Around the nation, cities and towns facing grim budget circumstances are grasping at unlikely — some would say desperate — means to bolster their shrunken tax bases. Like Beatrice, places like Dayton, Ohio, and Grafton, Ill., are giving away land for nominal fees or for nothing in the hope that it will boost the tax rolls and cut the lawn-mowing bills.
Of course, we’re also still on a tear down kick- taking down homes as fast as possible, to make sure that suburban home builders and demolition companies that back our local politicians keep busy.
Instead- we could be offering homes to homesteaders- with a $5K signing bonus. Move into these homes that we’re seeing as nuisances, start rehabbing them- live in them for 2 years- and they are yours. We’ll even give you a $5k credit at the Deconstruction Depot for building materials.
We have things people want- we’re just doing a horrible job letting people know that Dayton is a place of opportunity- a great place to raise a family- and an affordable place to live.
Thanks to our short-sighted local leadership the wrong message gets into the New York Times. Time to fix it.
And, all of you people in New York- for what you pay for a parking space- you can still buy a home in Dayton- and have money left over for a car to park in it.