City of Dayton approves master parks and downtown revitalization plans

By Vanesa Brashier,

Dayton City Council on Monday approved a master park plan and a downtown revitalization plan – two components of the city’s comprehensive plan that was approved in 2018. The master parks plan could advance the city with grants. The downtown revitalization plan will ensure that the city’s quaint downtown charm is preserved.

“I am excited the city has approved the master parks plan. It was a culmination of about six months’ worth of work in getting out to the community. Our plan of action now is to take the implementation portion of the plan, execute it and really start leveraging the money the city has invested in the parks with state and federal money as well,” Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon said after the council meeting.

The downtown revitalization plan took a year to prepare as it also includes a downtown tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) that is corollary to the plan, Melancon said.

“With those two things together, we feel confident in being able to facilitate a public-private partnership throughout downtown to revitalize commercial activity while keeping the historic character,” he said.

Meredith Dang, senior associate with Kendig Keast Collaborative, the firm hired by the city to prepare the comprehensive plan, presented the findings of the master parks plan to council on Monday.

She explained that in preparing the master parks plan, a committee was created to assess the conditions of the city’s five parks – City Hall Pocket Park, John William and Emma Blake Parker Children’s Park, Henderson Day Family Memorial Park, City of Dayton Community Center, Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Park and Sawmill Park.

Once the assessment was made, the recommendations were to compare Dayton’s parks to the national benchmarks, hold public hearings to ask residents what they would like to see in the parks and consider future population projections in determining future park and facility needs.

The outcome of the committee meetings and public hearings was an action plan that lays out several strategies and sets a time frame for completion of these goals. Some of the goals are immediate – with completion in 1-3 years – while others are projected to take 10-plus years. The long-term goals include an amphitheater, splash park and a recreation center. The more immediate goals call for hiring a recreation programs coordinator and expanding the parks volunteer base.

The city intends to aggressively seek grant funding in the years to come, said Melancon.

“In the parks, there are opportunities for grants, especially at the state level. Usually the first question they ask after the name of your entity is, ‘Do you have a master parks plan?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ you are out,” Melancon said, explaining that a parks plan raises the number of points to which a city must attain to even be considered for some grants.

Dang also presented the Downtown Dayton Revitalization Plan to council. She explained that one of the steps in the process was selecting an advisory committee, holding in-person interviews and hosting open houses. Through these, they determined the locations of six catalyst sites. These are the Dayton rice dryer, city hall, the Adams Trucking area, Dayton Community Center, Sterling Infill Block and eight acres on US 90. The study area comprises a total of 550.3 acres.

Some of the suggestions for the rice dryer involve redeveloping it as a commercial center and possibly painting a colorful mural on the exterior. The plan also determines the overall appearance of the downtown district with restrictions for signage, parking, lighting and landscaping.

The downtown TIRZ allows the city to subsidize improvement projects in the defined area of downtown without raising taxes. The TIRZ captures a portion of the TIRZ-area property taxes and reinvests the funds into public improvements that are gainful to the zone. The TIRZ is one of two in the city of Dayton, the second being the Gulf Inland TIRZ.

In other business, council:

* approved a contract with Sanitary Supply Co. that is projected to save the city 30 to 50 percent by making sanitary supplies, such as paper products, trash bags, hand soap, hand sanitizer and floor cleaning solutions – uniform in all city buildings. Currently there are 150 different products being used and the contract will narrow that to 30.

* approved the purchase of a warranty for a second chiller at the community center. The chiller was part of a two-chiller purchase approved by council on Feb. 19.

* approved the $60,000 purchase of two 2017 Chevy Tahoes for the police department. The low-mileage vehicles come equipped with police lighting packages.

* heard a presentation from Emily Zalfini with National League of Cities Service Line Program, which offers insurance programs for plumbing and sewer issues that are not part of the city’s infrastructure. For less than $25 per month, a homeowner can buy insurance that would cover most, if not all, of the repairs to their plumbing and sewer systems. Council members plan to review the materials they were presented and consider action on the program at the next regular council meeting.

To view the master parks plan and downtown revitalization plan, see the links below:

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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