A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Dayton Mayor Ben Baker gives ‘State of City address, reviews ’21 accomplishments, ’22 goals

(Editor’s note: Dayton Mayor Ben Baker gave the following address to Dayton City Council on Tuesday night, its first meeting of the 2022 calendar year. This address reviewed several significant accomplishments the city achieved during the 2021 calendar year and outlined new several infrastructure and development projects that are expected to be constructed in the city during 2022.)

“City Council and the Dayton Community:

“It is my great pleasure to present the City of Dayton’s first State of the City address, an annual speech designed to convey our city government’s current state of affairs. This address kicks off a new year and an increased level of transparency in Dayton, providing our community with information about our operations, past successes, and future goals. Our new city website, which you will see later tonight, is a testament to our renewed efforts to provide our residents, businesses, and visitors with readily accessible sources of news and information about our operations, programs, and projects.

Dayton Mayor Ben Baker

“The City of Dayton had a number of success stories during the 2021 calendar year. Despite another challenging year with the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, six new businesses opened storefronts in our downtown business district, several of which received funding from our Dayton Business Assistance grant program.

“Those businesses are Tuba Bakery, Taqueria Nogal, Horton’s Barbershop, Millard Advisors, Glow Salon, and American Foot Center, which Dayton High School graduate Dr. Jamey Herbst returned back home this summer to open. In addition, Yard & Company renovated the old gas station at Sixth Avenue and Main Street into their offices and a co-working space and event center, two real estate developers purchased Tony’s Ole Saloon with plans to make substantial improvements to it, and building improvements are now underway at the old Riverside Grocery at Sixth and O’Fallon Avenues.

“To aid local businesses adversely affected by the pandemic, the City also provided $1,000 grants to 29 of these businesses and also enacted a “Dayton Dining Dollars” program, which mailed out $5 coupons to Dayton residents to use at local restaurants. This program encouraged our neighbors to visit our restaurants and spend much more than the coupon’s $5 face value. More than 300 residents redeemed these coupons at local businesses to help support these businesses during the pandemic.

“Last year, we also saw great interest in the City of Dayton from numerous real-estate developers, who are adding new businesses, new residents, and new neighbors to our community for the first time in many years.

“On our riverfront, The Gateway Apartments opened its doors in May and the Tapestry on the River apartment complex, which opened in 2020, sold for $70 million in September, more than double its previously appraised value and was renamed Manhattan on the River.


“In October, Arlington Properties, the Birmingham, Ala.-based developer that built Tapestry on the River, obtained zoning approval to build another apartment complex in Dayton — this one with 265 apartments – on a site located at the east end of Manhattan Harbour next to the marina.

“Other Manhattan Harbour developments that the city approved were the construction of two new high-end, single-family homes at The Commons and construction of two multi-family housing projects at The Lookout and The Bend, both of which are currently under construction on the north side of Manhattan Boulevard, just east and west of where Berry Street connector to the boulevard will be built.

“One of the most exciting upcoming projects is the rehabilitation of the historic Raymee (Burton) building at Sixth Avenue and Berry Street. Orleans Development Company purchased the four-story, 137-year-old brick building in July for $385,000 and plans to spend about $1.5 million to renovate this building into commercial space on the first floor and luxury, loft-style apartments on the upper floors.

“In 2021, a primary focus in my administration was — and will continue to be –increased code enforcement in the city. This past year, the City established a database of all vacant and blighted structures in our City, and we created both a first and then a second “Top 10 List” of vacant and abandoned properties in the city. We created a second list because of the success we had addressing problem properties on the first list, many of which have been renovated, sold to third parties, or demolished by the city or third parties. The city also enacted a Code Enforcement Amnesty Program that encouraged property owners with outstanding code-enforcement violations to clean up their properties or face redoubled code-enforcement efforts if they didn’t.

The Raymee Building

“Overall, we’ve made great strides in improving our housing stock and our neighborhoods in the past year. I thank city staff and all our homeowners and residents who have joined the city in cleaning up our neighborhoods and streets. We expect to see even more improvement in this area of focus in the coming years.

“2021 also brought major improvements to our parks. Sargeant Park is now fully open to the public and has become a natural oasis for hikers and residents who now enjoy more than two miles of scenic trails on the southern end of our city. We removed the unsightly and unwelcoming chain-link and barbed-wire fences, replacing them with attractive wooden fences.

“We also made improvements to the parking lot and sanitary and stormwater infrastructure, planted hundreds of new trees, removed many invasive species in the park, and installed new trailheads and trails throughout the park. At Gil Lynn Park, in partnership with Dayton Independent Schools, we installed a new concrete backstop behind the girls’ softball field and maintained and improved the sprawling sports complex next to Dayton’s public schools. We owe a huge thanks to our Park Board and city volunteers for their ongoing work benefiting our great parks.

“Dayton is fortunate to have a highly qualified and efficient city staff. In 2021, I hired two new members of the city management team and we’ve seen great success with this new leadership team in place. In March, I hired Jay Fossett, the former City Manager in Covington, as our new City Administrator, and in September, I hired Jerrod Barks as Assistant City Administrator from his job as City Administrator in Morgantown.

“Last year, the City Council also approved a substantial increase in pay for our public-safety personnel, helping to make our City competitive with surrounding municipalities and increasing employee retention in both our police and fire departments. Our entire City staff achieved significant successes in their departments during the past, a list of which can be found on our website.

“In 2021, the City emphasized strategic planning by seeking input from our council during a day-long strategic-planning session in the spring as well as through interaction with city boards and committee members and Dayton residents of Dayton, including the city’s first-ever citizen satisfaction survey. This strategic planning has allowed us to prioritize and make decisions based on the invaluable input provided by our citizens for the year 2022. In 2022, the City will continue this emphasis with its first-ever “Dayton Vision Meeting,” a gathering of residents, staff, board members, and community stakeholders to coordinate ideas, events, and strategic planning.

“As you can see, 2021 was a banner year for the City of Dayton and this year looks like it will be even better. 2022 will be a big year for Dayton in terms of new infrastructure and development projects in the city.

“A number of projects are underway in the Manhattan Harbour neighborhood Manhattan Boulevard will finally be finished with a new road being constructed from just past the apartments at Manhattan on the River to Mary Ingles Highway. The long-awaited Berry Street connector project – which will provide needed connection to our central business district and allow our police and fire departments quicker access to this neighborhood — will be constructed once the Manhattan Boulevard road extension is completed. Improvements to the intersection of Manhattan Boulevard, O’Fallon Street, and Fifth Avenue, which will improve vehicular and pedestrian safety at this dangerous intersection, have been designed and construction is slated to start on this project in the spring.

“New sidewalks, trails, and pedestrian improvements will also be undertaken by the city in the coming months, with several long-awaited projects coming to fruition, including the construction of new sidewalks on the west side of Dayton Pike from Seventh Avenue to Chateau Ridge and on Belmont Road. Construction also will start on Phase II of the Riverfront Commons river’s-edge trail project and on pedestrian bump-outs on Sixth Avenue. Design plans for the final phase of the Riverfront Commons project will be completed this year, too.

“Ten streets will be resurfaced in the City during 2022. The city plans to spend about $200,000 to repave sections of nine streets in the city, based on a road-improvement priority-ranking system created by our city engineer, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is expected to repave Route 8 as well. The new year also will see the construction of several new stormwater mitigation projects in the city at these locations:

• Fourth and Kenton
• Ervin Terrace
• Dayton Pike
• Second and Walnut
• Grant Park

The City is continually working to improve our operations, increase city services to our citizens, and provide additional opportunities for our residents to be involved in their community. When City Council held its strategic planning session last spring, it came up with 30 projects, programs, and initiatives it wanted to see implemented in the city. I am proud to say that the vast majority of these strategic goals have been accomplished in the past nine months since that list was created and we are working on the others.

Riverpointe in Dayton

“One of our primary goals for the past year was to improve our external communication efforts in the city. Our new website now provides our community members with up-to-date city news and information. I encourage all Daytonians to visit daytonky.com to see the new website and keep to date about the city’s direction, including viewing our interactive maps, such as the one below that shows our infrastructure projects for 2022. In addition to the new website, we’ve also worked hard to improve our electronic newsletter and our social-media presence. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to sign up for our e-newsletter and like us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest news and information about our city.
As we look to the new year and to future years in our city, we want to continue our current efforts to encourage entrepreneurs to start new business ventures and create new jobs in our city. We also will continue to encourage developers and others to responsibly rehabilitate our historic homes and build new homes here that take advantage of our wonderful views, our excellent schools, and our close-knit community.

“Dayton is fortunate to have hard-working City Council members, city staff members, volunteers, and residents who are all working together to create an environment of energy, vibrancy, and growth in our community. Dayton’s infectious energy is creating many of the positive impacts we are experiencing today — from the attraction of new residents and developers to our community to the opening of new businesses on Sixth Avenue to the continued success of our schools.

“I want to thank all of these people who are making a huge difference in our community. Your creativity, ambition, and Dayton Energy are the primary reasons for our city’s recent successes and why our community’s future looks so bright right now.

“Thank you.”

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