Dayton to put new police station by Wright brothers factory, West library

Move is part of a larger, long-term Dayton Police Department plan to renovate and re-locate multiple stations east, west and near downtown

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Dayton plans to build a new multimillion-dollar police station near the Wright brothers airplane factory site and the West Branch library, which officials say will move police services and operations closer to many West Dayton residents, hopefully improving response times.

The proposed facility is about 2 miles west of the station it would replace — the current west district police station at 951 Washington St. near the I-75 / U.S. 35 interchange.

Dayton police Major Paul Saunders, commander of the Dayton Police Department’s support services division, said the new station should help spur business growth and economic development in what could be a growing hub near the newly built library.

“We wanted to be in the heart (of West Dayton) where most of our largest neighborhoods kind of meet up,” he said. “And (we wanted to be in) an area where we can be a catalyst for future development.”

The new station could open in the fall of 2025. The police department, which hasn’t built a new facility in more than three decades, also plans to consolidate a pair of police stations in the city’s east district. One of the agency’s long-term goals is to put a station for the central patrol operations in downtown.

Some community members say the new proposed west district police station is in a much better location than the current facility. But other city residents raised concerns about what the station would look like and questioned the site-selection process.

Dayton Police districts

The Dayton Police Department divides the city into three patrol districts. The agency’s headquarters is downtown and it has four stations — one for the west patrol district, one for the central business district and two for the east patrol district.

The west district station is in a building on Washington Street that the police department rents from Central State University. The west district covers all of Dayton west of the Stillwater River, then the Great Miami River, but its station is near the eastern edge of the district.

The city plans to use some of its $138 million in federal COVID relief funds to build a new station at the southeast corner of Abbey Avenue and West Third Street in West Dayton.

Police said about $5.5 million is budgeted for the new facility, and the city may also spend about $4 million renovating a police facility on Helena Street in the east patrol district.

The city originally proposed spending about $11 million of its federal COVID funds on a joint police and fire station in west Dayton. A city spokesperson said there will be no joint police and fire station, but fire department facilities will be renovated.

The city already owns the site at Abbey and Third, which is vacant and overgrown with vegetation. The property is next to a small vacant retail building that once was Lou’s Broaster Hut.

The property also is very close to the hangars of the former Wright brothers airplane factory, which the city hopes to see redeveloped, even though the structures suffered significant fire damage last year. The Dayton Metro Library’s West Branch is nearby, at Abbey Avenue and U.S. 35.

The proposed project site has convenient access to U.S. 35 and other major roadways and it should be easy for officers to get in and out of, Saunders said.

The new police station hopefully will help attract additional development to the area, he said. The city has been working toward creating a master plan and vision to redevelop the large former industrial property between U.S. 35 and West Third Street into a mix of new uses.

The design of the new station is still a work in progress, but the plan is to make it look similar to an aviation hangar to match the history and theme of the area and nearby buildings, said Richard Willis, senior project manager with App Architecture.

The West Dayton project site was selected partly because it should help improve police response times, Willis said.

Major Saunders said the new station is more centrally located in West Dayton than the facility it will replace and it will have new amenities including a community space.

The police station will be an important part of the neighborhoods, the major said, and community input will be gathered to help determine the appearance of the facility.

Officials said the city hasn’t built a new police station in about 33 years, since construction of the station at Salem and Superior avenues in northwest Dayton.

The police department also plans to gut and renovate its station at 417 E. Helena St. in the east patrol district, which is in the McCook Field area near Old North Dayton. The agency wants to move all of its east patrol operations into the building, which was once a grocery store.

Long-term, the police department also wants to create a new central patrol district station in downtown. Central patrol’s station right now is not downtown — it’s that 33-year old facility at 248 Salem Ave. in northwest Dayton, near the Gem City Market.

Ken Marcellus, a city resident and a member of the West Priority Land Use Board, recently questioned why and how the police department selected the Abbey Avenue site for the new station.

He said he thinks the vacant Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center on the 400 block of North Gettysburg Ave. might have been an ideal property for the project.

The reserve center, which still has multiple buildings, closed down in 1997 after nearly 30 years in operation.

Police officials say the center was a leading contender for the new station, but the Abbey Avenue and Third Street property is a better choice.

Brenda Weaver, a West Dayton resident who lives in the Arlington Heights neighborhood not far from the Wright factory property, said she’s very supportive of the project.

“I’m just elated to know that we’re going to have a police station very close in the neighborhood,” she said.

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