Pocket parks, garden planned for west and northwest Dayton

Nonprofit groups like Conscious Connect CDC take lead, with funding from city and others

Dead and underutilized spaces in west and northwest Dayton are going to be turned into new pocket parks that supporters say will give neighbors vibrant places to congregate, play and enjoy the outdoors.

“It’s another way to bring on some assets into our neighborhoods — spaces that will be utilized by our community,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

Other properties in West Dayton will be turned into a garden and green space to support youth development, and the city plans to make significant investments in some of its parks using federal COVID relief funds.

Dayton City Commission has approved transferring several properties it owned on the 100 block of Lorenz Avenue in Westwood and one at 300 Delaware Avenue in Five Oaks to Conscious Connect Community Development Corporation.

Conscious Connect CDC, which paid a small fee for the properties, says its mission is to reimagine and redevelop underutilized spaces for educational, cultural, health-related and other impactful purposes.

Conscious Connect CDC plans to convert the Lorenz and Delaware avenue properties into small parks that promote long-term health, well-being and neighborhood safety, said Moses Mbeseha, co-founder and vice president of the organization.

The place-making projects seek to address adverse environmental health conditions and provide area residents with convenient, walkable access to activated green spaces, Conscious Connect CDC said.

Conscious Connect CDC said the city has approved providing about $250,000 of its federal COVID relief funds for the projects.

Conscious Connect, which also received about $90,000 from the Northwest Dayton Partnership, wants to raise more than $610,000 for the project, though it expects to receive assistance from a few partnerships.

Dayton’s contribution will help pay to plant new trees and install new benches, a shelter house, seating, tables and signage, says a memo from Todd Kinskey, the city’s director of planning, neighborhoods and development.

The Delaware Avenue property, located in the Five Oaks neighborhood, previously was a pocket park, but it was abandoned over time, said Mbeseha.

The property has a gazebo and benches, but its wood tables and seating are rotting and falling apart, and there’s trash and litter on the site.

Neighbors say people rarely visit the park, primarily because it is so barren.

“There is nothing really there for kids to do,” said Re’Quaella McCall, 22, who has lived in the Five Oaks neighborhood since 2018.

McCall said many kids live in the area, including her 8-year-old sister, Mari Edwards.

She said an attractive park with nice amenities could be popular.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Delaware Avenue project is expected to be completed by the end of this year, possibly sooner.

The Lorenz Avenue properties, located in the Westwood neighborhood, will be combined into one space, which will offer play-scapes and a walking path.

Both project sites will have small free libraries.

The Lorenz Avenue project is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2024, and final site plans will be decided using community and neighborhood feedback.

Dayton also recently approved awarding $25,000 of its COVID relief funds to a group called the Hope Road Organization.

The group plans to acquire two properties on the 700 block of Ward Street in the Edgemont neighborhood to use for a gardening program.

Grant funds will be used to plant new trees and install seating, trash cans, a shelter house, plus purchase gardening tools.

Hope Road is focused on helping young people develop character and skills through arts and nature.

The city of Dayton plans to upgrade about a dozen of its 46 parks using federal COVID rescue funds, plus other city funding sources.

Dayton has budgeted about $1.6 million for park improvements, but the city has identified more than $2.3 million in enhancements that it would like to make if the funding were available.

Dayton also plans to create about eight new spray parks, and city staff have been trying to determine where to place them. This would triple the number of spray parks the city owns.

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