published Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Dayton, Tenn., council reassures residents about group homes

DAYTON, Tenn. — The city of Dayton will take steps to ensure the safety of children who walk past homes for mentally ill individuals in a historic neighborhood when school opens in August, city council members said Monday.

For the second month, council members heard from residents concerned about three homes being renovated by Generations/Gaither Group to house mentally ill individuals.

Janelle Spivey, who lives on Cherry Street next to one of the houses, told council members she is concerned for the safety of Dayton City School students who walk along her street to and from school. Traffic on the street, as well as the future tenants of the homes, raises safety concerns, she said.

Mayor Gary Louallen responded that, "We as a body could not have prevented what they have done. They have promised that whenever any one [of the residents] is outside someone will be outside watching them. I think these gentlemen [council members] agree we will take special precautions when school opens."

Rebecca Harris, who identified herself as Spivey's granddaughter and who works as a registered nurse in the mental health field, offered a word of caution to the council.

"The question is not if something is going to happen, but when something is going to happen. I think it's great what they're doing [for the mentally ill], but not where they're doing it."

Louallen agreed.

"They have done a horrible job with where they have put" their facilities. "When school starts, we will put extra [police] in the area."

The mayor said a spokesman for Generations/Gaither was aware of the meeting Monday but no one from the company attended to respond to questions.

In other matters, the council scheduled public hearings for June 17 to receive comments on a proposed water rate increase and on the fiscal 2013-14 budget and tax rate.

City Manager Frank Welch said he is recommending a 13 percent rate increase for water customers, in part to pay for construction of a new treatment plant and improvements to the distribution system.

The proposed city budget is $41 million, and it would be supported by a property tax rate of 47 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation, the same rate as this year.

Meeting earlier as the Dayton City School Board, the panel approved a budget of $6.7 million for the coming year.

Contact Tom Davis at tsdavis@volstate.net.

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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