“This is how we do economic development”- NOT.

Without discussing options in public, without thinking about true economic impact, without a vision to do anything but a mediocre band-aid on a problem, the Dayton City Commission voted to build a new rec center on the Roosevelt site, and enhance Lohrey- as opposed to doing a world class single center at the center of town- in a highly visible location- to serve as a hub for our entire city- and, squandering an opportunity to put our best foot forward for all to see.

They can’t say they weren’t aware of this option- I had breakfast with Commissioner Joey Williams long ago at the Golden Nugget in Kettering- when they were still looking at doing 6 half assed rec centers- and I pushed for doing one really right- than many only partially right. But, since that meeting, we’ve lost even more citizens, jobs, and property values- as our city has floundered along with our grand plans for “economic development” that still under-estimate the power of two very important tools in the economic development toolbox: our own social capital, and pride.

It’s our inability to do the stupendous that kills our ability to recruit new talent. It’s our inability to work together, to focus, to cooperate and collaborate that is stopping us from moving forward in big steps. It’s our constant focus on the past, that prevents us from seeing a new future. It’s our appeasing small, but vocal groups, that keeps forcing us to do things as silly as this:

Dayton considers rec center changes
DAYTON — The Dayton City Commission approved three contracts on Wednesday geared toward recreational activities for residents. Two expand opportunities, the other looks at reuses for neighborhood recreation centers slated to close.

• The commission awarded a contract to Dayton-based Lorenz Williams Inc. for $820,000 to develop schematic designs for the new recreation center, called a rec plex, to open in Fall 2009 at 2013 W. Third St.
The city commission and the Dayton Board of Education agreed to hire the same architect for redevelopment of Roosevelt into a 50,000-square-foot recreation center adjoining a 73,000-square-foot school. The Board of Education plans to demolish Roosevelt in late summer or early fall.

“This is exciting. This is how we do neighborhood development,” said City Manager Rashad Young.

Lorenz Williams will coordinate the bidding and administer the construction of the recreation project.

The architectural firm will subcontract with Cincinnati-based Brandstetter and Carroll Inc. to assist in the design of the rec plex.

• The city commission also hired Brandstetter Carroll at a cost of $135,000 to work on design and construction services for expansion of the Lohrey Recreation Center, 2366 Glenarm Ave., and the Northwest Recreation Center, 1600 Princeton Drive. Construction begins this fall.

• Commissioners also agreed to pay the Gem City Real Estate Group. Inc. $21,000 to determine the best use for three neighborhood recreation centers projected to close. Those centers include Burkhardt Center, 215 Burkhardt Ave.; Stuart Patterson Center, 2013 Baltimore St.; and the Ellison Center, 2412 W. Third St. The Linden Center, 334 Norwood Ave., which has already closed, will be included in the market study.

Once again, it’s too late to look at really big ideas that may redefine this city. While the city is busy patting itself on the back, these two rec centers will do little to change perceptions of the city. Instead of showing off one spectacular complex, in a highly visible, central location- as a place for the entire region to come, play, enjoy- linked by our bikeways, building on the existing infrastructure of Riverscape, Island Park, Kettering Fields, Deeds Point, connecting up through DeWeese Parkway to Wegeryzn and the Playhouse etc-  and the coming Kroc Center, we’re going to put some poor imitation of a rec center on the site of a grand old school (which had a rec center that wasn’t fully utilized) that will only draw from a small radius.

That’s not economic development- that’s not even progress-

What do you think?



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6 Comments on "“This is how we do economic development”- NOT."

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Teri Lussier
Teri Lussier

>It’s our inability to do the stupendous that kills our ability to recruit new talent. It’s our inability to work together, to focus, to cooperate and collaborate that is stopping us from moving forward in big steps.

Yes, yes, yes! Doing more of the same will always get you more of the same. Moral of the story: Never count on the government to initiate change.

Phillip Ranly

Bad plan or not, I guess you can at least be happy they’re using some local companies.

Steven Cartwright
Steven Cartwright

As an alternative to finding the one big project that will define the area or the one big company that will employ everybody, perhaps the city and its boosters should think small. Encourage local stores on city streets. Encourage local neighborhoods to define themselves. Build from the ground up.

David Esrati
David Esrati

Steven- marvelous idea- like cut out red tape, eliminate parking requirements from historic zoning, stop making new building codes make rehab more expensive than new construction- etc. We’ve talked about those issues here- a lot.
The problem small business initiatives have- is that not all small business ideas are good- or entrepreneurs are smart.
Circulator bus routes instead of hub and spoke could help- walkable neighborhoods could help- but, the thing that’s really missing is local pride and vision.
At one point the Santa Clara business district was making a comeback- then the city pulled back- and Santa Clara regressed.
It’s harder and harder to be a small business and compete.
This is one of the reasons I do this site- and teach others in my http://www.websitetology.com course- how to do the same.
Thanks for your comments- we’d be happy if you have more suggestions.


David, could you be more specific as to what happened with Santa Clara. I recall there was a push in the 1990s to turn that into a sort of gallery/restaurant/small shops area, but it fizzled.

How did the city pull back on this?

David Esrati
David Esrati

It was part of the “Town Centers” program- run under Mayor Clay Dixon. Some people in planning- put together a concentrated effort to solve problems- the parking lot- with signage, some store front improvement grants- and calling it the “arts district” (something that seems to have moved to the Cannery).
I don’t exactly know what went South- but part of it was when Steve Nutt moved from City Hall to CityWide Development- other parts may have been because Turner didn’t support it (I’m guessing here)- but, it went forward- and then backslid.
I’m sure Gary Steiger at Omega Music would be able to give the full details- or Jeff Rutledge of Rutledge Gallery http://www.rutledge-art.com/html/index.htm
Sorry that I can’t remember all the details.