The Stillwater River. Wolf Creek. Mad River. The Great Miami River. How many cities can boast that four waterways traverse their downtown? Dayton’s rivers and creeks are the lifeblood of the region, linking neighborhoods, lending a dramatic backdrop for downtown events, and drawing people into the river for outdoor recreation activities. From paddling amid the natural surroundings of the eastern Mad River to attending a concert at RiverScape MetroPark, downtown Dayton’s riverfronts today offer an extraordinary benefit to the community; one that is not yet fully realized. Building on decades of efforts to ensure protection of the city from flooding; strong momentum in the local economy; and new recreation projects to activate the water, 2018 is the moment to put the forgotten areas of Dayton’s riverfronts back on the map.
During twelve months in 2017 and 2018, more than 3,000 members of the Dayton community came together to create a vision for their riverfronts as a more connected, activated, and healthier resource for the future. Downtown Dayton lies at the center of the riverfront planning area and expands out three miles in four directions. The Dayton Riverfront Plan includes an overall framework for the greater downtown area and river corridors as well as conceptual designs to improve ten riverfront parks and connect into the regional paved trail network. Through online surveys, multiple public meetings, feedback at local events, and small group discussions, the community worked diligently to help create this plan.
The Plan was created from a partnership-driven revitalization effort that brought together Five Rivers MetroParks, Miami Conservancy District, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, and the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Additional funding support was provided by The Dayton Foundation and the Montgomery County Land Bank
- Downtown Core Vision: With all the energy around downtown, many opportunities exist to promote a multi-faceted live-work-play-create dynamic by better connecting downtown’s assets and focusing on riverfront placemaking improvements. At the nexus of the four river corridors, downtown provides the opportunity to link riverfront parks and create a continuous civic experience along the Great Miami River with a single riverfront identity.
- Community Corridor Vision: The Wolf Creek Community Corridor is envisioned as a series of healthy neighborhoods with a connected trail and linear open space at its center that knits the corridor together. New neighborhood infill development and transformation of large creekside sites will couple with important trail connections and more open space that makes this area regionally connected and vibrant.
- Cultural Corridor Vision: The potential identity of the corridor as Dayton’s cultural corridor and quieter urban refuge is clear. The entire corridor will represent a collaborative effort among several engaged partners to create a consistent and cohesive system from Wegerzyn MetroPark into the downtown. By broadening the parks and river system so they reach across both sides of the river, and by treating the many open space amenities as one collected network, the Stillwater River can shine as the heart of culture in Dayton, re-imagining the parks as a branded corridor that draws regional attention and connects to cultural destinations along the corridor and in greater downtown.
- Technology Corridor Vision: The future vision for the Mad River Technology Corridor builds on the successes of Tech Town as an innovation and economic hub, and on the proximity of the Wright-Patterson employment center, all while enhancing the health, character, and recreation potential of the Mad River. The plan proposes a vibrant and healthy Technology Corridor, many of which rely on public-private partnerships around city development over time.
- Education Corridor Vision: The knowledge base that is represented in Dayton through its institutions is an incredible asset. Places of learning infuse the city with younger generations that engage with public spaces and destinations on a daily basis. However, as redevelopment occurs in this area, a new relationship to the river needs to be defined, prioritizing access and engagement from all and better connecting to the health and education campuses, creating a riverfront campus village environment. Street connections from Sinclair College, University of Dayton, and Chaminade Julienne High School need to be safe and active. Opportunities exist to leverage partnerships to create meaningful spaces and experiences.