Local leaders in Dayton are making a concerted effort to improve the quality of life for residents and position the city for the unprecedented growth that is expected over the next few years.
At the Dayton Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 5, Mayor Caroline Wadzeck, Interim City Manager David Willard and other city leaders provided updates on the various projects that are underway or were recently completed.
Willard, who was appointed as interim city manager on July 26, gave an update on the search for a new city manager. The city hired an executive headhunter firm to recruit candidates in a nationwide search. While dozens of people have applied for the job, Dayton City Council has yet to review these resumes as the job listing will remain open until the end of October.
“I think we will have a good pool of candidates,” said Willard.
As traffic is an ongoing challenge in Dayton, Willard said the City is continuing to work with the Texas Department of Transportation on solutions.
“Traffic is on everyone’s mind. I know it’s a problem. I know those of you who travel every day and have been here a long time. It’s nothing new. We are trying to address it as quickly as we can. Traffic issues, not to blame TxDOT or anybody, but public works projects like that take a lot of time,” Willard said.
Two major transportations that have been identified are the US 90 rail realignment and the Waco Street extension.
Willard said TxDOT is moving forward with the rail realignment and will be creating plans for an overpass of the railroad tracks on US 90.
“That’s in the works. It’s not going to happen overnight but the project is moving. TxDOT has an engineering firm they are contracting with,” he said.
Recognizing that Waco Street is a very important thoroughfare, the City is working on plans to extend it northward toward Dayton High School, which would ease traffic along SH 321 (Cleveland Street).
“We have a local stakeholders group that is working with TxDOT to make that a viable project,” Willard said.
The completion of the I-1 segment of the Grand Parkway in June 2022 will be a game changer for Dayton and Liberty County.
“It’s going to fuel growth. We can’t help but grow. Our mission now is to get ready for that with roads, bridges, infrastructure, water and sewer,” he said.
The Gulf Inland Logistics Park, located on a 1,050-acre tract on US 90 near the Grand Parkway, will further the growth through the creation of as many as 5,000 living wage jobs.
Department heads for the City of Dayton also provided these highlights:
- The City has added three new members of staff to the permitting department to expedite the permitting process.
- The north side of Luke Street, which experiences drainage issues, will be fixed through a Community Development Block Grant.
- Daniel Park pool renovations, set to be finished by next summer, are being funded through the Dayton Community Development Corporation.
- New sidewalks are going in from Dayton High School on SH 321 south to US 90. Another set is going in at US 90 from SH 146 to Colbert Street. A third set of sidewalks is being added to Kimmie Brown Elementary.
- The library has renovated the Texas Room, installed a new art wall and added bilingual story time.
- Regarding the fiber Internet project, 38 percent of the path (142,692 feet) has been installed. The first areas that will come online in the project should be connected by November. The system will be tested at the end of October and customer accounts activated in November.
- The police department has added a third detective, transitioned to a new report management system and purchased portable breathalyzer units to aid in DWI investigations, and is adding new mobile data terminals (laptops) to all patrol and detective vehicles. Recently, the department, as well as Officer Jasmine Fontenot, were recognized for their efforts to combat impaired driving.
- The emergency management center has implemented standard operating procedures, moved from the city hall to the PD, improved the capabilities of the facility to better manage an emergency situation, and created and implemented a city-wide hurricane preparedness plan.
- The City has initiated a student intern program that has proven to be successful. Some of the interns have gone on to part-time and full-time employment with the City. Over the last two years, the City has had 19 interns, nine of which were hired for part-time or full-time positions.
- The City has purchased a metal detector to improve court security, added a kiosk for utility payments that eventually will include court payments and changed its case management systems to close out more civil cases.
- The City also migrated to a new phone system that has added remote work functionality.
Mayor Wadzeck closed out the luncheon with a poem she penned about Dayton. It reads:
On Liberty County’s western border, high up on the hill
Proudly stands our town of Dayton, a shining beacon still
Growing slowly through the decades, both sides of the tracks
West Lib sprang from meek beginnings, those are just the facts
Hardworking people paved the way for all we have today
They built Day’s Town with confidence, determined all the way
Each generation did its best, each problem overcame
And so today we carry on, inspired to do the same
Like those people long ago, our confidence still rules
We’ll solve each thing that comes along with our updated tools
Yes, we have dilemmas, our traffic number one
But once again, we’ll work it out ‘cause traffic’s never fun
Related to that issue is our famous Dayton train
It even has a famous song that tells of all our pain
Don’t despair we are working on relief around the bend
That dadgum train won’t beat us and on that you can depend
We know that growth is coming and we’ve all picked up our pace
Exciting times, we’ve lots to do, that mountain we will face
Challenges are everywhere and fix-it is our motto
In 20 years, our hope is that Daytonians will say, ‘Bravo’
We know you see those challenges and we’ll strive to do our best
We will always have those mountains. There will always be a test
We look ahead and plan galore, and ready every day
That we don’t give it all we’ve got, no one can here can say
It’s hard to tell you everything in a luncheon forum this short
But now it’s time that we conclude our State of the City report.
We’re proud of dear old Dayton, it’s the friendliest place around
We live and play and work here in this wonderful hill of a town.