When you need infrastructure, don’t ask Dayton

A perfect example of how we don’t do real economic development.

The Twin Valley mental hospital can’t be reopened because- we don’t have a road to it. We spent millions of dollars to blight a neighborhood at Wayne and Wyoming for a speculative Kroger store- but, can’t come up with money to build a road to a medical facility. Please note- the medical facility jobs pay more than the grocery store jobs.

From the Dayton Daily News:

For several months, a variety of issues have held up the proposed $1.7 million sale of the former Twin Valley state mental hospital property to a private developer, most recently inconsistencies in a survey of the property.

But an upbeat Dec. 9 meeting involving Montgomery County, city, school board and state officials appeared to pave the way for an imminent sale of the hospital site in early January. A private company has plans to reopen it as a 100-bed mental hospital, creating 150 jobs and potentially helping to address local behavioral health needs left in the wake of Twin Valley’s closing in 2008.

“By the beginning of January, we think this all can be a done deal,” Bob Short, interim director of hospital services for the Ohio Department of Mental Health, told the Dayton Daily News Dec. 9 following that meeting.

But just days later, an e-mail exchange between the state Department of Mental Health and the city’s planning department showed the sale could be in for yet another delay. The Dayton Daily News obtained the e-mails through a public records request.

The e-mails focused on where the main entrance will be to the proposed 55-acre property southeast of Wayne and Wilmington avenues, which virtually is landlocked. The property has been further hemmed in by the construction along Wayne Avenue of a new Belmont High School, slated for completion in the winter of 2011-12.

In a Dec. 11 message, John Gower, the city’s director of planning and community development, underscored the issue of access, noting several project stakeholders recommend access to the property by way of Mapleview Avenue, which runs through a residential neighborhood on the Twin Valley property’s east side and is used to reach the current Belmont High School.

“In previous conversations that Dayton has had with the Ohio Department of Mental Health, we have suggested that a temporary easement (access) could be considered from Mapleview, through the old Belmont High School for purposes to provide basic maintenance of grounds while the property remained vacant,” Gower wrote.

“We now have a user that wants to reuse the site and bring 150 jobs to Dayton. We think all the partners that are currently at the table support that. However, finding a permanent solution to provide access to the site that does not circulate through the neighborhood is the problem before us.”

via Access issues could derail Twin Valley sale.

What’s even more embarrassing about this- is this is state-owned land, with a Dayton Public School owned building that blocked off the old access road in a deal that was all done by government technocrats. Somehow, none of them realized Twin Valley would still need a road.

In the mean time, Austin Road continues to get roads, expensive traffic lights- and tax breaks to overbuild our community with retail and industrial space which we have an abundance of- while a hospital trying to open that will provide a critically needed public service twists in the wind.

Is it because the right palms haven’t been greased- or is it that we have people too incompetent in charge? Why aren’t the Mayor and the Dayton City Commission climbing up the City Manager’s rear-end to get this done?

Why isn’t money coming from ED/GE to make this happen?

This is real economic development that should be undertaken with our tax dollars- unlike 99% of the other corporate welfare that goes on (although- if the state maintained its safety net for the mentally ill- this facility would have never closed).

Kudos to the DDN for exposing yet another example of the city being inept.

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David EsratiCivil Servants Are People, TooRobert Vigh Recent comment authors
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Robert Vigh
Robert Vigh

I believe this to be an example of inconsistency in your writing. You seem of late (and I agree), to wish to do away with tax dollar usage for investment. Why is this any different? This is a subsidy to a company that may or may not perform.
It just seems that this falls into your preference about where money should go and that makes it right. Yes, I want private everything, but at least I am consistent and not engaging in the battle of preferences about what to do with other peoples money.
If they need a road, they should buy some land and build it. But, if they need to not pay property taxes, be the recipients of other peoples property tax, have roads and access ways built for them, they seem like a drain.

Civil Servants Are People, Too
Civil Servants Are People, Too

For the city to say no does not make them “inept” if there are reasons behind it.  This could be a policy choice.
Austin Road and most infrastructure projects are years in the making.  This is partially due to sourcing the transportation funding that is typically used, as well as the engineering and real estate pre-development work that is required to make them happen.
For example, this page shows MVRPC held a meeting to discuss proposed plans for Austin back in 2006 – which means they had already been working on it for a least a couple years before that.  This article says the project was “six years in the making” in 2009.  If so, the project dates to 2003.  Obviously, a highway project is more involved than a road extension, but you get the idea.
In this case, we are talking about essentially a private road that would serve a single property owner at a cost of $1 million, according to the article.   Yes?
So that is essentially a subsidy of $6,667 per job for 150 jobs quoted.   At an estimated average salary of $50,000 and Dayton’s tax rate of 2.25 percent, it would take almost 6 years to pay for the project and recoup a single penny of income tax.   Does that still sound like a good deal for Dayton?   Maybe, or maybe not.  That’s the real question, but to Robert’s point it is still an incentive nonetheless.
Anyway – according to their website, Dayton spends quite a bit on infrastructure, as most cities do.  So the particular implication in your post title that they do not (or cannot) build it is therefore misleading and unfair to the civil servants who work on these projects.
PS.  I still doubt that Dayton spent “millions” on Kroger since the deal didn’t happen, but that’s old news by now.