Dayton may sell land near Deeds Point for new $25M school this week

The city of Dayton will decide Wednesday whether to sell 13 acres of land near Deeds Point to an arm of The Connor Group, which plans to build a new school on the site.

An ordinance on Wednesday’s City Commission agenda spells out the sale of the property to GDS Property Holdings LLC for $250,000, and says the sale has been recommended by the city’s planning and community development leadership.

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The MetroParks land — narrow strips along the Mad and Great Miami rivers, as well as the triangular park at the point itself — would be untouched. City officials said the sale would not restrict public access to the park or the foot bridge over the Mad River.

The sale would include the large parking lot, ballfield and an area currently used as a dog park, all to the north and east of Deeds Park Drive and North Bend Boulevard. City officials said the property will need to be rezoned prior to the sale being finalized.

The Connor Group — a Miami Twp. real estate firm that for years has invested heavily in local education — has been planning to create a unique private, nonreligious school specifically to serve under-resourced students.

The school’s model calls for 400-600 students from preschool to eighth grade, with significant social services to be provided for families. Some support for students would continue well after they leave the school to ensure their long-term success. City officials cited the school’s “goal to pull kids out of generational poverty” when asked why this is the right use for the land.

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Ryan Ernst, director of The Connor Group’s Kids and Community Partners effort, said Monday that the Greater Dayton School will be built in the current parking lot and baseball diamond outfield area of the property. The school plans to begin operations in some location in fall 2022.

“We’re not anticipating being in the school building when we open. We’ll either be slightly off site or on-site in trailers,” Ernst said. “The plan would be to move in over winter break or spring break. We want to do it correctly as opposed to fast.”

City documents say The Connor Group will invest $25 million in the school project, which will also include an athletic track area. Ernst said details of the athletic area are still in the works.

A memo from Todd Kinskey, the city of Dayton’s director of planning and community development, said the project will also include a $1 million public park to honor Col. Edward Deeds, for whom the point is named.

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Deeds was an early 20th century engineer and inventor who served as president of the National Cash Register Co. He founded DELCO Labs along with Charles F. Kettering, and partnered with the Wright brothers in early airplane manufacturing.

Ernst said the new park area will be north-northwest of the school building, which is toward the current dog park area.

The city plans to use the $250,000 proceeds of the sale for construction of a new dog park, among other improvements. Kinskey said Monday that the city is exploring a couple possible sites with representatives of the dog park.

Some people who use Deeds Point Dog Park previously raised concerns about how the construction of a new school might impact the park.

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