Dayton city manager leaving for job in Dickinson

U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (left) and Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon were among the speakers at an official groundbreaking for the Gulf Inland Logistics Park on April 7, 2021. (File photo)

After four years as city manager for the City of Dayton, Theo Melancon is moving on to a new challenge in Dickinson, Texas. His last day with the City of Dayton is July 23.

“Their gain is our loss,” said Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck. “We have lost a very gifted leader. We are going to miss him greatly.”

Wadzeck is confident that Melancon will use the next month to ease the City of Dayton through the transition.

“I know he is leaving everything in good hands and will be giving us plenty of direction. We will keep pushing forward with our projects,” she said.

Dayton City Council is expected to meet early next week to discuss the next step, which likely will include hiring an executive search firm to secure an interim city manager. The firm may also help with recruiting candidates and assisting in the interview process, according to City Attorney Brandon Davis.

In his role as city manager, Melancon guided the City through the creation of a master plan, a unified development code for developers and builders, a master parks plan to improve amenities for Dayton residents, a City-owned and operated fiber optics project that will provide high-speed Internet to most Dayton residents and businesses, and a tax increment reinvestment zone for industrial development and job growth. He now is working on an elevated T-intersection over US 90 at Waco Street.

“We are finalizing funding for the elevated road as we speak,” Melancon told Bluebonnet News on Wednesday. “We are working with city, county and state partners to finalize this plan. The preliminary cost of the project is $30 million.”

The new elevated road should alleviate some of the heavy traffic flow in Dayton, particularly during rush hour or when school buses are in operation.

“We are not just addressing east-west traffic on US 90 but north-south traffic that is sometimes impacted when the N. Cleveland Street underpass is flooding or when a train is blocking the path of traffic,” he said. “There may be some shifting of the roads but we have a feasible design that will not involve the widening of Waco Street. I have a lot of things to set up in the next 30 days but the overpass is one of the big ones.”

Melancon said he is proud to see progress being made at Gulf Inlands Logistics Park, which officially broke ground in April and will be under construction this summer, and the Interchange Industrial Park on the far south city limits on SH 146. Both industrial parks involve use of rail lines and are positioned with or near connections to the Grand Parkway.

“Both parks together encompass 1,350 acres of prime development,” he said.

Melancon is also working with home builders to bring affordable, high-quality homes to Dayton.

“Just last Monday night, we had a developer at our meeting who plans to bring 100 homes per year to Dayton. This housing project, along with others, will address the skyrocketing housing costs. We want to increase the supply to keep up with the demand,” he said.

Making the decision to leave Dayton for the new job was tough, Melancon said.

“I think I have a calling to be in Dickinson. I prayed heavily on it. I think Dayton is at a place right now where the City and its leadership has grown, and the training wheels are coming off. I am very humbled that the Dayton City Council placed so much trust in me over the years. Without the support of Council and the belief in what we were doing as a staff, we could not have accomplished as much as we have. I know that with the City’s leadership, Dayton is poised for a very bright and prosperous future,” he said.

He will be the first official city manager for Dickinson as the city previously operated under a city administrator that was directly guided by the mayor.

“Dickinson has many challenges and I think they need a strong leader to come in and guide them through a transition period. Most of the buildout in the city was in the 1970s. There are many new developments that need to be done but also a significant amount of rebuild,” he said.

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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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