published Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Dayton unveils plan for downtown

DAYTON, Tenn. -- Dayton's downtown business district is in the early stages of a facelift, and some local leaders had a look at the master plan Tuesday.

Kerry Nabors, chairman of the MainStreet Dayton design committee, presented a slide show to the Downtown Merchants Association, city officials, members of the Rhea County Historical Society and property owners. Most of the feedback was positive.

Mr. Nabors said the plan would address needs at the courthouse square, streets, parks, parking and "portals" to the area. Funding comes through a pilot project that returns to the city sales tax dollars generated in the project area. He said the project could return as much as $1 million over its eight-year life.

Goals are to beautify the area, enhance pedestrian traffic, provide consistent signage for facilities such as parking areas and to provide guidelines -- "not zoning requirements," Mr. Nabors said -- for development.

A centerpiece will be to install an irrigation system and underground electrical service outside the Rhea County Courthouse. The improvements will help events such as the Strawberry Festival.

Merchants Chairman Kathy Griffin said she hopes the presentation will spark interest and feedback.

"We have near-term goals, midterm goals and long-term goals, so we can make changes as we go to be responsive to the desires of the area."

Clyde Caldwell, with the Dayton Masonic Lodge, said members want guidance as they start to make improvements on the exterior of their building across from the courthouse.

"What guidelines or examples do you have? We want to make our building an asset to the courthouse," he said. "We don't want to spend a lot of money then find out we're out of step."

Mr. Nabors said the design committee hopes to have specific recommendations soon.

"We want to identify a common theme, something to work toward. But we don't want every building in town painted brown. We want to recognize individuality, but consistent with a theme," he said.

about Tom Davis...

Tom is the director of public information at Bryan College and has been in the Dayton community for 30 years.

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