By Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon
It has been a historic period in American life for Dayton and the nation. I am proud to say that Liberty County and the cities worked together throughout this trying time. It was important for all entities to weigh out options and work collaboratively to come to solutions as we traversed uncharted waters.
Throughout the pandemic, we all heard stories about how different states, counties, and cities responded to the COVID-19 threat. We did not want to be overbearing to businesses and residents in our community. Much of our work at the City has been to provide resources to businesses upon their reopening. Our Economic Development Corporation (DCDC), Police Department, and Communications Department have spearheaded efforts to work with businesses, places of worship, and residents to ease the burden caused by the economic disruption of our economy.
In the coming weeks, city facilities will phase into full operations. Though the pandemic slowed down some progress, the City of Dayton used the opportunity to work on many internal processes and projects that will make the organization even more resilient to disasters of all types. Upon our reopening, we will evaluate lessons learned from the need to telecommute to enhance our offerings to residents, businesses, contractors, and other stakeholders.
Paving roads and parking areas, renovations in Daniel Park, drainage improvements on Dale and Brown Roads, and water and sewer line replacements have occurred throughout the pandemic. City Council was adamant that our residents deserved good and responsive governance throughout the pandemic. City staff answered that call. Building inspections, development review, and permitting continued throughout the shutdown. Library staff used their time creatively to craft online storytime and curbside checkout services. Select Library and Community Center staff worked on records retention and digitization projects throughout multiple departments.
The City of Dayton does not have a drastic return to normalcy because Council and staff did not stop working for residents, businesses and developers throughout the pandemic. While lobbies remained closed, the use of electronic communications allowed staff to continue workflows. The City is finalizing plans for a reopening of all facilities and those will be shared in the near future. Productivity of staff did not stop throughout the pandemic, and for that I am proud of Council and staff on that front.
Most importantly, I want to thank the residents and businesses of Dayton. Dayton has proven to be just as resilient as I have touted in public addresses. The reopening of our community will be difficult, but it will not be as disruptive as other parts of our state and nation. We will reopen stronger than ever. Businesses tried new practices that helped their operations. I suspect many of those businesses who adapted to COVID-19 will learn great lessons and incorporate new practices for the long-term. The outpouring of support from the community regarding City efforts to continue its investment in infrastructure, parks, public safety, and community development has been overwhelming. Our Council and staff appreciate those kind words. We are working every day to serve our community.
I leave you all with this quote that I believe sums up how we weathered the storm of COVID-19: “There is nothing more imprudent than excessive imprudence.” – Charles Caleb Colton
Together, we have done what was needed to bend the curve. The curve is bending. It is time to move into the recovery phase. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Dayton. Thank you for staying strong in the face of an invisible enemy. Thank you for adhering to the social distancing protocols set out by our Governor and President. Without your help, we would not be in position to reopen as quickly as we are. We would not be in a prime place to rise to even greater heights after this pandemic’s havoc is quelled. We have gotten through this together.