Connecting a divided city and creating shared space sometimes means letting go of the old. One of the goals of the Dayton Riverfront Plan is to reconnect parts of the city that were cleaved from the whole in the 1950s and 60s, by insertion of Interstate 75 through the heart of the city. Many of the bisected neighborhoods that remain still haven’t recovered from being severed from their neighbors, their history and their heritage. In these neighborhoods, structures can soon begin to suffer because ownership may have changed or an owner’s sense of belonging to a community has been lost. Unfortunately, blight and abandonment of once grand homes and commercial buildings often result in the need for demolition. None of us who are involved in planning and re-utilization of properties like to demolish such grand structures, but for those who live next door or across the street from such blight, they are eager for it to be removed from their daily routine.
Removing blight along the rivers and creeks that converge in Dayton is an important element of the Dayton Riverfront Plan. The open space that remains after demolition offers endless opportunities. Riverfronts and river views are now coveted sites for recreation and even housing. Often, the open spaces themselves are the reward. Resulting dynamic parks and river-based open space corridors can inject neighborhoods with new vitality, providing quality-of-life assets that stimulate community redevelopment and inject a new sense of identity and pride.
Sometimes letting go of the old is a good thing. The team implementing the Dayton Riverfront Plan will continue to imagine the possibilities as the Dayton Riverfront Plan evolves to lift all of the waterfront neighborhoods in the city.