Saturday, November 26, 2011

Miami Valley Huskers

We had a great time yesterday in Centerville, Ohio. It was there, just a quick 15 minute drive from Dayton, that we met the Miami Valley Alumni Association of the University of Nebraska. They reserve a section of a sports bar and watch the games together. They had prizes (of which I won two!), several contests, and group cheers. It made our Black Friday one of the best days!

While we were there, I started asking a guy I met about downtown Dayton. Where we're staying downtown it's like a ghost town. There's no one on the streets except creepy homeless men who hide behind trees. But there's this gorgeous hall, the Schuster Center, stuck right in the middle of all this darkness. The picture to the right is of the ceiling in Schuster Hall. It's one of the most beautiful halls we've played.

Back to my story about downtown Dayton, the guy said that Dayton made the huge mistake of not annexing any of the towns or suburbs in its vicinity. The actual city of Dayton has a very small tax base and therefore has no money to draw on for revitalizing its downtown. This was evident as we took the short drive to the mall in the suburbs. After about 10 blocks we were out of Dayton and in the affluent suburb of Oakwood, Ohio. It turned from devastation to beauty in mere seconds.
Here's an example of the gorgeous houses in Oakwood.

The guy continued on to explain the key differences that exist when a town annexes its suburbs. Take Omaha for example, Omaha has a full-time mayor and city council that has fought to annex every suburb all the way out to Elkhorn. As much as those of you in Elkhorn are mad about this, this is the reason why Omaha has a fantastic downtown area (among many other things). There are shops, entertainment, and restaurants. It's fun to go downtown to the Old Market. It's a destination spot. It's also fun to host things like the College World Series. I don't think they'd ever be able to do something like that in Dayton. The bottom line is Dayton doesn't have the tax base to support anything like that. They also have a part-time mayor and a hired city manager who can point the finger wherever he wants when something goes wrong. 
And when you look at the opportunities that the Omaha Public Schools have and compare then to a place like Dayton or even Cleveland for that matter. Cleveland has the same kind of problem as Dayton in regards to the suburbs. The OPS system assures that all schools no matter whether they're in the poorest neighborhoods get an adequate amount of funding. Seeing these cities and downtowns up close and personal makes this idea and way of structuring cities so clear to me. 

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