How many master plans?

It was a question I had when I first got to Wright State and wanted to build a hockey rink (yes, I started the Raider Hockey Club as a freshman back in 1983-84). Was there a rink on the Wright State master plan? Turns out, on plan 2 of the 4 there was, but WSU had already come up with two more plans.

It was funny, looking through how the plans changed. In the first two, Wright State was on a grid, everything connected logically, and the focus was on buildings and people instead of cars and parking. A lot could be learned from that, as we go through yet another charette (charade) on what to do with Dayton, this time, being headed by local retired doctor and insurance magnate Mike Ervin.

I attended the last two of these planning sessions- the first in the funky c{space last week, and the final one at Sinclair, building 12. Very different crowds, very different suggestions.

My contributions (I spoke twice after watching George Hummel get away with it)- were to revisit building and zoning codes and re-examine rooming houses as an option for downtown living and to consider turning Dayton Public Schools over to Sinclair Community College as a rebranding, rebuilding and restructuring- and to extend Five Rivers Metroparks to being Five Rivers Metroparks Recreation and Sports (to include youth sports leagues etc.).

Other notable ideas included the use of the existing dark fiber installed to run our traffic lights as a way to create a publicly owned Internet Service Provider and a focus on getting the small things right- like repairing the tile on the flyover sculpture. This crowd was very anti-hockey arena on Dave Hall Plaza- as if that park were sacred.

UniGov was also mentioned, by Gerry Hauer, who had sworn to himself not to say anything- but he couldn’t help himself.

The real question is how much different was this from the CitiPlan 20/20 process that I took part in back in the late nineties? Maybe it’s not a failure of the ideas at all, but the failure of leadership?

Not to worry- there was an announcement as the meeting wound down by Larry Ealy about how he was running for Mayor- and how when he was in charge, we would be in charge. Hoo boy! When I asked for his signature on my petition he was asking about how the election process worked- that’s always a good sign. (I may be able to post video of his little speech later).

Some people asked me afterward, what was the real agenda of this plan and this man (Ervin)? Is this public input just window dressing for yet another deal worked out in the back rooms? I don’t have the answer, since I’m not invited into those sessions.

I’ve heard rumors that this is part of a plan to expand the role and responsibility of the Downtown Dayton Partnership- the organization that raises taxes on property owners to help them fill their rapidly emptying buildings. Time will tell.

In the meantime, what was wrong with the old plan?

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