May 17

Living in Dayton’s Historic Districts - An Intro to COAs

Posted on May 17, 2022 at 9:51 AM by Alex Despain

An Image of buildings on West Third Street

West Third Street in the Wright-Dunbar historic district.

Buildings on Fifth Street, St. Anne's Hill

Fifth Street in the St. Anne’s Hill historic district

Did you know? In the City of Dayton, we currently have 13 locally designated historic districts as well as over 70 individually designated historic landmarks.

A map of historic districts in Dayton

All 13 locally regulated districts.

Historic districts and properties are usually recognized at both the federal and local levels. Federal recognition provides a number of benefits, including tax credits for restoration projects. Local recognition and regulations are mostly intended to ensure the ongoing protection and preservation of the historic integrity and character of these properties.

 Historic districts are designated as such primarily due to their age, but also due to the integrity of the structures in the area.  Original window patterns and style, the massing of a structure, and original materials and details all help to retain the integrity of a building.  If these elements are altered too much, the building can lose its historic status.  To help prevent this, exterior work must be reviewed to ensure that repairs and modifications are done in a way that maintains this integrity and is complementary to the historic aesthetic of the neighborhood.

A house on Park Drive before renovation

A House on Park Drive after renovation

326 Park Drive, before (top) and after a successful rehabilitation.

Getting a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) helps to make certain that work done on your property is going to be done right the first time.

 Depending on the historic designation category of your property, you may need a Major COA if you are looking to do any considerable modifications, such as new construction or changes to door or window layouts. Applications for Major COAs must be reviewed by our Landmarks Commission. But most routine work, such as replacing a roof or door or painting the exterior, requires little more than a phone call or an email to our Historic Preservation Officer.  So long as the proposed changes are all appropriate, a Minor COA can typically be processed and sent out in the mail to you the same day.

An example minor COA placard

An example major COA placard

Minor and Major Certificates of Appropriateness 

Since Major and Minor COAs are issued based on the historic designation category of your property, it is important to understand the differences between the categories. In Dayton, we have three historic designation categories:

  • HD-1 is intended to protect the overall form (style), massing (size), and fenestration (windows) of structures, but it allows for some leeway for painting and minor replacements without oversight from the Landmarks Commission. In many historic districts, commercial areas are designated HD-1 instead of HD-2 to give business owners more freedom to make updates to their structures. For structures designated as HD-1, property owners must acquire Major COAs for any major modifications to the structure but are not required to obtain Minor COAs for routine work.   
  • HD-2 is the most restrictive designation and is generally applied to all residential areas in historic districts and to some significant individual structures. HD-2 requires a COA for any exterior work.  For structures designated HD-2, property owners need to get a Major COA for any major modification, as mentioned above, but also need to get Minor COAs for all other exterior projects.
  • HD-3 is intended to protect individual structures from unwarranted demolition and is usually applied to significant commercial structures.  You will only need a Certificate of appropriateness for an HD-3 if you are seeking approval to tear down the building.

 To see which category your property falls under, visit

 Our historic districts and landmarks help tell the story of Dayton’s past. They give us a glimpse into the lives of those who came before us, and we hope to continue to showcase and preserve the craftsmanship and character of all the contributing structures in our districts. Once historic features have been altered, it can be difficult to return to the original condition, as materials are often lost.

Images of a house on LaBelle Street

La Belle Street in St. Anne’s Hill

So, if you live in one of Dayton’s historic districts, please be sure to reach out to Historic Preservation Officer Holly Hornbeak if you have any questions or are looking to do any work on the exterior of your home! Holly can be reached at or (937) 333-4271.

Apr 22

Claridge Park DIY - Dayton’s first skate park brings new energy to McCook Field

Posted on April 22, 2022 at 2:38 PM by Alex Despain

Not long ago, the former tennis courts in McCook Field’s Claridge Park sat empty. The nets had been removed, and the grass growing in the cracked surface was almost tall enough to require mowing. With City resources stretched thin, the rectangular patch of pavement may have continued to wait for repairs indefinitely if not for the keen eye of local skateboard enthusiast David Schweitzer. He saw potential in the disused amenity, and in the spring of 2020, he approached the Planning Division to see if there was a way for the City to allow him to start a do-it-yourself (DIY) skate park on the property. With all of the determination and enthusiasm you would expect from someone who regularly launches themselves into the air on four wheels and a piece of wood, David led his project through an unprecedented process with the City to realize his vision. Today, Dayton’s skateboarding community has an official place to call home. The City’s first skate park is already seeing a great turnout, but the venue is still in its early phases of construction. David has plans for expansion and, importantly, a network of supportive skateboarders all willing to bring their skills to the table.



  • David comes to the Planning Division with a list of several possible former tennis and basketball courts that appear to be underutilized and have the features necessary for a skate park. Staff works with the Department of Public Works and determines that the former tennis courts at Claridge Park may be an appropriate location. The five-acre park sits in an area that is largely industrial, however, a number of residences sit directly to the north and the east.

two aerial photos next to each other showing McCook Field in 1946 and 2019

  • In arguably the most important step of the process, David connects with Jerry Bowling III, the President of the McCook Field Neighborhood Association. Together, David and Jerry reach out to the residents of the area to explain the project, answer questions, and ensure that the neighborhood supports the plan before moving forward. 

an image showing unused tennis courts


  • The skateboarding community does a cleanup of Claridge Park, gathering more than 40 bags of debris.
  • The skate park is named Claridge Park DIY and gets an Instagram account. @claridgeparkdiy 


  • David creates plans, renderings, and a budget.


  • To facilitate funding and legal obligations, David partners with The Collaboratory, also known as Involvement Advocacy, a nonprofit organization incorporated in Illinois and registered in Ohio. The Collaboratory hires David as an unpaid project manager for the DIY skate park and will be the signatory on all permits and agreements necessary to satisfy City requirements for the project.
  • To comply with the City’s Zoning Code, the skate park requires Conditional Use and Variance approval from the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals. During the public process, concerns are raised regarding noise, hours of operation, and parking. David explains that skate parks create less noise than a little league game, and skateboards are quieter on smooth, paved surfaces than they are on sidewalks. Hours of operation will be in line with City park hours, which Public Works defines as from dawn to dusk. Parking is generally not permitted on Lamar, however there is a parking lot in Claridge Park at the southwest corner. Board members are in support of this resident-driven DIY skate park, citing the benefit to the immediate residents and youth in the area.
  • The project receives the necessary approvals to move forward. To address the myriad legal and logistical issues of a nonprofit building a DIY skate park on City-owned property, a condition of approval is to put in place a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between The Collaboratory and the City prior to any construction. The MOU, reviewed and agreed to by both parties, establishes the framework by which the construction and maintenance of the skate park will take place.
  • Skateboarding debuts at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

FALL 2021

  • Construction begins! 

image of skate park construction at Claridge Park

Phase 1 of construction began during the Fall of 2021

image of a skate park feature being created

image of a skate park feature being created

  • Skating commences the moment the concrete has cured.
  • Word spreads about the new DIY skate park through social media, the local newspaper, and an interview with Dayton 24/7 Now.

image of a TV interview occuring at the skate park


  • Construction continues and is aided by fellow skateboarding enthusiasts, both local and visiting. Also on hand are members of the Cement Masons Apprentice Program, who have been cutting out the surface cracks on the courts and then filling them with concrete. 

image of Dave and two cement masons

Dave Schweitzer (center) stands in the skate park with instructors from the Cement Masons Apprentice Program


  • Construction will continue in phases as resources and materials become available.
  • David sees bringing in local artists to contribute their talents and add to the uniqueness of the park.

The possibility of building a skate park within city limits had been part of staff discussion for several years but, due in part to changes in budget and available resources, had not yet come to fruition. This partnership between residents, local organizations, and the City has activated a dormant area of Claridge Park and stands as an example of what can be accomplished through dedication and cooperation.

If you have any thoughts or questions about Claridge Park DIY, please contact Jen Hanauer at or (937) 333-2005

Apr 20

Flight Line Vision (East Dayton Rails-to-Trails)

Posted on April 20, 2022 at 10:28 AM by Bryan Taulbee

Flight Line Vision

Few projects capture as much positive public attention and excitement as the conceptual Flight Line rails-to-trails project. For the past five years the City of Dayton has been working on conceptual plans and negotiations with the Norfolk Southern Railroad to make the project a reality. 

The Flight Line multiuse trail will utilize 6.5 miles of blighted rail line and will complete two gaps in the Miami Valley trail network providing greater access and alternative transportation options to the entire Dayton region. This signature transportation project will begin in downtown Dayton and traverse east-west through some of Dayton’s historic neighborhoods before heading south into our neighboring jurisdiction of Kettering. It provides missing connections to the existing Creekside and Ironhorse Trails and is vital to the redevelopment and beautification of Dayton’s east-side neighborhoods. The off-street, multi-use trail will provide safe, sustainable, low-stress connections for commuters to economic job centers and recreational users alike. The Flight Line is poised to add to our regional trail network’s economic impact by mitigating blight within our neighborhoods while creating a unique elevated urban trailway, one-of-a-kind in our region. Opportunities to build linear parks, greenways, and expanded private development connections in conjunction with the trail will enhance the user experience and economic value of this asset. 

The City of Dayton continues to work to secure the necessary funding to finalize acquisition and looks forward to making this unique project a reality. A recent Neighborhood Vision Plan, adopted by City Commission, for our northeast neighborhoods includes public comment and feedback on what our community would like to see occur in conjunction with the Flight Line trail. Excerpts from that plan are included below. 

2359.1NEDraft200708 (1) 37

2359.1NEDraft200708 (1) 34
2359.1NEDraft200708 (1) 352359.1NEDraft200708 (1) 36

The final path for the Flight LIne and its connections to our region's 300+ mile trail network is shown in the next map. It is close to our local schools, connected to both City and Five Rivers parks, and fills an essential gap in the regional system. 

If you have questions about the project, contact Susan Vincent at

Flight Line overview map