By Scott Keyes
A lily-white Ohio suburb is doing everything it can, including risking millions in federal highway funding, to keep mostly minority bus-riders from a nearby city from entering their community.
The showdown began in 2010 when the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority proposed adding three new bus stops in Beavercreek, a largely white suburb 15 minutes east of Dayton. These new stops would give Dayton bus-riders access to Beavercreek’s major shopping mall and nearby businesses, as well as a medical clinic and Wright State University.
Facing the prospect of buses coming in from Dayton, the Beavercreek City Council began enacting as many hurdles as they could to stop the new bus stops. Among the dozen roadblocks included mandating that bus shelters included heated and air conditioning as well as high-tech surveillance cameras, features that would be hugely expensive and are not common at other stops. Unsurprisingly, these demands couldn’t be met and the council rejected the expansion. “We turned downed an application because they didn’t meet our (design) criteria,” Beavercreek City Councilman Scott Hadley explained to Eye On Ohio.
Many in the area argue that their opposition boils down to a simple reason: race. According to the 2010 census, 9 in 10 Beavercreek residents are white, but 73 percent of those who ride the Dayton RTA buses are minorities. “I can’t see anything else but it being a racial thing,” Sam Gresham, state chair of Common Cause Ohio, a public interest advocacy group, told ThinkProgress. “They don’t want African Americans going on a consistent basis to Beavercreek.”