published Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Dayton planners eye street closing

DAYTON, Tenn. — Dayton's planning commission will be asked to study the possible impact on the city's downtown if a street is closed to accommodate construction of a new jail.

Meeting Monday, Dayton City Council members considered a request from County Executive George Thacker to close Court Street, a street between the courthouse and jail that links Third and Second avenues. Dayton Mayor Bob Vincent said Thacker had requested the council to consider closing the street if the Rhea County Commission decides to build a new facility on county-owned property at that site.

But City Manager Frank Welch suggested the planning commission study the matter before the council acts. "It seems like closing the street will offset parking in that area. I think you ought to turn it over to the state planning office for study. Where will additional parking be if we close the street?"

Councilman Bill Graham, who also serves as the county finance director, said, "I'm not prepared to consider [closing the street]. Until a decision has been made to build [a jail] downtown I'd be open only to what Frank [Welch] suggested, to see what the parking and traffic flow would be."

Welch added, "My only thing is to give City Council more information before you make a decision."

Councilman Gary Louallen, who owns a piece of property being considered for a jail or justice center north of the downtown area, said he does not object to study.

"All I would ask is when the time comes, to close the block for 30 days to let people see what it would be like with the loss of parking. Then we could have a public hearing," he said.

County officials are to meet Jan. 26 to attempt to settle the question of where to build -- downtown adjacent to the present jail or on the Louallen property.

Meeting earlier as the Dayton City School Board, board members approved a calendar for the 2013-14 school year. Superintendent Mike Latham said the calendar is closely aligned with the county's calendar, with school opening Aug. 6, and the year ending May 22, 2014. Holidays and standardized testing dates are the same as in the county school system, 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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