Editor’s note: The City of Fairborn proclaimed April 17-April 22 as Community Development Week. Therefore, check this week’s Tuesday-Saturday editions of the Fairborn Daily Herald for more information regarding Fairborn’s community development efforts.
FAIRBORN — Fairborn city officials, in addition to some officials in neighboring Montgomery County communities, recently rallied together to create a video that was sent to congressional leaders expressing the need for continued support in blight removal efforts.
“If we can [address] the exterior property maintenance issues, it has a positive influence on surrounding properties,” Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson said, referring to the Broken Window Theory. “The reverse is also true — the more blight we have, the worse on the appearance of surrounding properties, driving down property values. Our schools suffer, our city suffers, our residents suffer.”
When old, uninhabitable buildings in the City of Fairborn go down, more space is created for new facilities to go up, pushing for community and economic development — which is why city officials in recent years have prioritized blight removal. Community Development Block Grant funds allow approximately $250,000 to go toward the endeavor, in addition to $250,000 out of Fairborn’s general fund.
“There’s a direct link between our community development and our economic development,” Anderson said. “A lot of economic development are based on first impressions. This program helps us make a better first impression.”
Weeks ago, Fairborn removed two blighted hotel facilities on Broad Street, the Sunset Inn and Falcon Motel; the winter months saw the former Burger King facility go down. City officials said more blighted facilities along the Broad Street corridor are being targeted for the chopping block in the future.
Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said Broad Street is a prime economic area as it serves as one of the main entries into the city for both Interstate-675 and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — especially considering that city officials are hoping to draw visitors to its shopping areas. At the same time, however, city officials value maintaining Fairborn’s small-town charm.
“Broad Street is an extension of our downtown,” Anderson said. “You can’t talk about our downtown area without including Broad Street — at least that section of Broad Street from Dayton Drive to Xenia Drive — the three to four blocks there are just as critical to our downtown and Main is from Broad to Dayton Drive. It’s part of our strategy for what we’re trying to do for our downtown.”
“We all want to make Fairborn a better place, but at the same time we don’t want to lose that small-town charm,” added Kirkpatrick, who represented the city in the video.
Blight removal efforts are not limited to former businesses, but uninhabitable residential facilities as well.
“It’s also a neighborhood stabilization effort in a lot of ways,” Anderson said. “It’s stabilizing a neighborhood by removing blight, getting people to have more pride in their properties so they make an investment. That drives up property values, then the schools collect more revenue that they can put toward education, [the city] collects more revenue for police and fire departments to provide better services — it’s a snowball effect from there.”
Since 2010, the city has removed 79 total blighted buildings, including the former Elder Beerman facility. Eight residential properties came down in 2010, followed by three residences in 2011. The following year, 2012, saw seven residential homes get demolished, then another eight in 2013.
The city got even busier with blight removal in 2014, as it removed its first three blighted commercial properties as well as 21 residences. Two commercial properties came down in 2015 as well as four residential properties. Another busy blight removal year followed in 2016, seeing three commercial and 20 residential properties come down.
“It’s a safety issue, a crime issue and certainly an appearance issue for communities,” Kirkpatrick said. ” … It really does impact the entire community.”
Reach Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532. Blight removal numbers courtesy of the City of Faiborn.