By: Mike Brill – Columnist
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley spoke with University of Dayton students about city initiatives Sunday, Sept. 28, at 116 Lawnview Ave. as a part of the Mayor’s Porch Tour.
The Porch Tour is a series of community conversations that the mayor has organized in each of Dayton’s 65 neighborhoods. The tour is an opportunity for Dayton residents to learn about city initiatives and provide feedback on how the city can improve its services.
Whaley, a UD alumnus, made her stop in the student neighborhood Sunday. Whaley said she appreciated the relaxed visit, having been shadowed by protestors in previous tour locations who were upset over the mayor’s decision to offer Dayton as a refuge for illegal immigrant children.
Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith was the mayor’s guest; he was joining the tour to talk to residents about the property value reassessment that his office was required to perform this year. Property in Montgomery County has suffered a loss of $1 billion in value.
Keith noted that this reassessment would impact the university very little. UD does not pay property taxes because it is a nonprofit. The city’s new streetlight assessment, however, would cost the university.
The special streetlight initiative would fund $3 million in streetlight improvements by levying costs on property owners benefitted by the city’s streetlights. The average homeowner would pay $25 for the improvements. Large nonprofit landowners, such as UD and Miami Valley Hospital, however, would pay a significant amount.
Whaley and Keith said that drawing the funds from nonprofits, which own 40 percent of the city’s land, would reduce the financial burden on the average citizen. They believe that the costs are necessary to reduce crime and save energy.
Whaley also stressed the value of Dayton’s water resources. The city sits on a shallow aquifer that is naturally replenished by surface water, which is beneficial to the city and its businesses.
Whaley dispelled the idea of bottling and selling Dayton’s abundant groundwater when asked, however, citing the city’s lack of an extensive distribution system.
Whaley shared news of the city’s new bike sharing initiative as a service useful to UD students. The $1 million program will allow Dayton residents to rent bikes they could use to travel throughout the city from one bike station to another. There will be a station on UD’s campus.
The service would charge for monthly or annual memberships, but would also have a pay-as-you-go plan. Whaley believes bike sharing will encourage students to explore the city.
The mayor said she was impressed by how knowledgeable the students were. She said she is normally asked basic questions about police, fire and trash collection issues. The students said they enjoyed the mayor’s visit. “I’m not that big on politics,” Brady Powers, a junior mechanical engineering major, said. “But I thought the event was really interesting, and I like that she took the time to go around to the porches and see how the community is doing.”