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9-5-17 City Council Meeting - Property Acquisition

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    Posted: Sep 03 2017 at 1:46pm
CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS MEETING
Middletown City Council Agenda
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at 5:30 P.M.
Lower Level Council Chambers

Legislation

7.  Resolution No. R2017-20, a resolution authorizing the purchase of certain real property located at 1822 North
     Avenue aka 124 Charles Street, and declaring an emergency.

Workbook Description

 
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RESOLUTION NO. R2017-20 A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE PURCHASE OF CERTAIN REAL PROPERTY LOCATED AT 1822 NORTH AVENUE AKA 124 CHARLES STREET, AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.

WHEREAS, the City wishes to purchase certain real property for the purpose of demolition; and WHEREAS, the owner of the property has agreed to terms for sale of the property to the City; NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the City Council of the City of Middletown, Butler/Warren Counties, Ohio that:

Section 1 The City Manager is authorized to enter into a contract to purchase certain real property from Charles Napier located at 1822 North Avenue aka 124 Charles Street identified as parcel number Q6532027000051 as listed by the Butler County Auditor. The contract shall be in a form and substance substantially similar to Exhibit “A”, attached hereto.

Section 2 For said purposes the Director of Finance is authorized and directed to expend a sum not to exceed $35,000.00 from the Community Development Act 1974 Fund (Fund #429).

Section 3 This resolution is declared to be an emergency measure necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and general welfare, to wit: to complete the purchase of the property as soon as possible upon completion of all inspections so that demolition can be scheduled during the current fiscal year, and shall take effect and be in force from and after its adoption.

 __________________________ Lawrence P. Mulligan, Jr. Mayor Adopted:________________ Attest: ______________________ Clerk of the City Council H:/Law/leg/2017 Leg/r Purchase of Property – 1822 North aka 124 Charles.doc

S T A F F R E P O R T
For the Business Meeting – September 5, 2017 August 24, 2017
TO: Douglas Adkins, City Manager
FROM: Kyle Fuchs, Director – Community Revitalization Department

PURPOSE

To authorize the City Manager to enter a contract to purchase the property/bar located at 1822 North Ave (aka 124 Charles) for $35,000 from Charles Napier.

BACKGROUND AND FINDINGS

The City of Middletown police have had many calls for service and crimes committed at 1822 North Ave (aka 124 Charles – currently Bar Boca). In the past several months alone, there have been numerous calls for service including but not limited to: felonious assaults, shots fired, public disturbance, weapons complaints, assault, and violation of liquor laws. Due to the violation of liquor laws and numerous other incidents, police met with the operators of the bar and attempted to get them into compliance with local and state laws to no avail. As a result, the owner (Charles Napier) of the property has been speaking with Lt. Jim Cunningham to negotiate a deal and has agreed to let the City purchase the property for $35,000. The City has Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds available for demolition. After confirming with HUD, the City may use those funds to purchase the property providing we demolish it with the CDBG grant as part of the overall project. It should be noted as well, the neighborhood residents have had many complaints about the bar and have been wanting something done about it for a while. According to police, this will be a very welcome project for the residents in the area.

ALTERNATIVES 1.) Decline to purchase the property. This would delay and possibly eliminate the City’s chances of gaining title and may also hinder the chances for demolition and continue to present a danger to the community due to the violence at the bar.

FINANCIAL IMPACTS

$35,000 of federal CDBG funds plus the cost of demolition. A rough estimate to demolish the property would be an additional $8,000 - $15,000. Again that is only a guess. It will depend on what environmental/asbestos factors are found after those surveys are completed and the number of contractors bidding on the job.

EMERGENCY/NON EMERGENCY

Emergency – As mentioned above, police have been dealing with this property for a long time. We have started the environmental and historical clearance process already so we can move on the purchase as soon as we have Council’s approval. 
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Once again the city government that wants out of the real estate business wants to buy more real estate. How can a council that can’t afford to repair the dangerous pavers around the city building even consider buying another property to tear down? If the bar is so dangerous and such a problem, why is it still operating?

“In the past several months alone, there have been numerous calls for service including but not limited to: felonious assaults, shots fired, public disturbance, weapons complaints, assault, and violation of liquor laws. Due to the violation of liquor laws and numerous other incidents, police met with the operators of the bar and attempted to get them into compliance with local and state laws to no avail.” Who does this owner know in the city building to still be operating under these violations? He must be a friend of council to get bought out instead of shut down. If this bar was shut down by the city and kept shut down there would be no reason for the city to buy the property and the bear the cost of tear down or upkeep. If the owner was responsible for paying taxes on and maintaining a property that he could not operate he would abandon the property or keep up appearances. Remember that if the city tears it down then they must keep it mowed forever, since the city would not allow it to be used for any purpose.

“$35,000 of federal CDBG funds plus the cost of demolition. A rough estimate to demolish the property would be an additional $8,000 - $15,000. Again that is only a guess. It will depend on what environmental/asbestos factors are found after those surveys are completed and the number of contractors bidding on the job.” Once again our government is going to use “CDBG money” for demolition rather than bringing in jobs and/or tax payers.  

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 04 2017 at 2:45pm

Thank you Analytical for outlining all the questions that Council should have the opportunity to ask, should they be so inclined. (However, the inclination is sorely lacking and very rare.)

Emergency legislation to purchase the property at North Ave. and Charles St., known as Bar-Boca, should be removed from the agenda. I believe that HUD money can not legally be used to purchase a business still in operation. How can Mr Adkins claim to have gotten permission for this purchase, in writing, so quickly? Even if he has permission why is it an emergency?

A purchase using HUD funding would make this a HUD property subject to all the restrictions that go along with that. Since that would mean that the property could only be sold or turned over to a non profit, Middletown would be stuck with the upkeep and mowing for eternity.

Why not shut down the business and hold the owner responsible for upkeep of the property instead of the citizens of Middletown? Using CDBG money to improve Middletown properties is better than tearing them down.

Quote from the agenda:

“EMERGENCY/NON EMERGENCY Emergency – As mentioned above, police have been dealing with this property for a long time. We have started the environmental and historical clearance process already so we can move on the purchase as soon as we have Council’s approval.”

Mr. Adkins and Council will again try to pass off questionable legislation as an emergency in order to bypass any citizen input or discussion by Council. The problems at the bar have existed for years. The workbook states the problems have escalated the last several months and that all city efforts to control the criminal activity have been ineffectual. Why wasn’t the liquor license revoked instead of having a police officer (Jim Cunningham) discuss some kind of deal that gets the owner (Charles Napier) off the hook? Could the owner have ties to influential people in the city building?

During these months (and years), was the owner taken to court, fined or otherwise held responsible? Criminal activity gets a slap on the wrist but the average citizen gets hauled into court for minor misdemeanors such as pealing paint! With such serious violations of city and state ordinance this business should have been closed long ago, just as Mr Adkins emergency proposal says, “for the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and general welfare.” Why, after all this time, is it now an emergency to purchase the property? Council is violating the sunshine law and the city is failing to enforce the law when confronted with criminal activity.

Emergency legislation eliminates citizen input and has become normal operating procedure for Mr. Adkins and his trained bobble-headed council. Shouldn’t council take the time to consider all sides of this type of legislation?

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 04 2017 at 11:03pm

Here’s another “problem bar” which should be declared a nuisance (by city ordinance) and closed permanently. But instead it might be the next candidate for another of council’s emergency legislation to illegally acquire it with HUD funds, thereby relieving the owner of any culpability or financial burden. Jimmy Cunningham said the city is looking at its options in stopping the illegal activity.” Why wasn’t the bar closed in November when the double shooting occurred in the parking lot? Or in August or June when there were overdoses and shots fired?

Journal News E-news afternoon update

1 person hit by gunfire in Middletown bar parking lot

By Lauren Pack - Staff Writer

Updated: 4:48 p.m. Monday, September 04, 2017 |  Posted: 4:45 p.m. Monday, September 04, 2017

MIDDLETOWN —

Middletown police say one person as well as several cars and a house were hit by gunfire late Saturday outside a Crawford Street bar. Multiple shots rang out outside the Third Base Cafe, 911 Crawford St., after a fight in the bar, according to Middletown Police Lt. Jimmy Cunningham. Officers were called to the bar at about 11:40 p.m. for reports of shots fired. Nine casings were found outside the bar and police were told one man was shot. The information we have is he ran out the back door,” Cunningham said of the man who was allegedly shot. Detectives have been unable to find the shooting victim, he said. One house was hit and two or three cars,” Cunningham said. “One (shot) landed near a parent and child.

Officers have been called to the bar 32 times in the past six months, according to police, who say most recently there were overdose and shots fired calls in August and June. .Last November, a double shooting occurred in the parking lot. The neighborhood has had it with the violence and so have we,” Cunningham told this news outlet today, noting the city is looking at its options in stopping the illegal activity. It used to be a working man’s bar, but now it is a place where drug dealers come to,” Cunningham said.

Officers remained at the scene until early Sunday. Cunningham said bar owners, who were out of town, were unable to respond to access the security video to help in the investigation.Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call detectives at 513-425-7700.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 05 2017 at 12:29am
Question 1:  said real estate situated at 1822 North Avenue has $2,802.89 in unpaid Butler County property taxes as\
                      of 8-3-17.  Is there a deadline for payment?
Question 2:  does said real estate have any outstanding city building or health code violations?
Question 3:  in addition to Lt. Cunningham's property acquisition negotiations, will the city later engage the services of
                      a qualified real estate appraiser to substantiate current market value?
Question 4:  will the city engage the services of a title/abstract professional to determine if there are/are not liens
                      or other encumbrances on said real estate?
Question 5:  has the city undertaken a detailed analysis of said real estate that dictates demolition as the only course of
                      action?
Question 6:  will the city retain the services of an asbestos remediation professional to determine if said real estate
                      may contain asbestos or other harmful materials?  Will the city obtain an estimate of cost to remove
                      (if found necessary) said materials?

From comments recently provided by Community Revitalization Department staff, it appears that only a "guesstimate" is available as to actual total costs at this time.  Since the cost of this endeavor will exceed CDBG funds allocated for demolition in this HUD Program Year, where will additional sources of CDBG funds come from?
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http://www.journal-news.com/news/middletown-purchase-problem-bar-and-demolish/2x3kzDP48Zra1FTqg392fL/

There seems to be some additional information in this morning's Journal-News article.

Beyond that, what I'm wondering is why we're going to buy and tear down this business due to being a nuisance where there are others that are much larger strains on the city's resources.  Let's just look at the Verity McDonald's as an example since they made the news and everyone is keenly aware of the drug problem going on there.

Looking at the data from the MPD's reporting system (which given that it is identical to the J-N's reporting I'm assuming that's where they are getting their numbers as well):

Since the reporting system went online, there have been 148 calls to the 124 Charles Street property (currently Bar Boca) in that time frame, dating back to 13-Mar-2008.  That's a total of 148 calls over 3,463 days, or an average of one police call every 23 days.  11 calls have been filed in 2017, which averages a call every 22 days for this year.

Comparatively, the property at 2351 N Verity Parkway (McDonald's) has had 295 calls since the reporting system went online, with the earliest entry being 1-Jun-2007.  That's 295 calls over 3,749 days, or an average of one police call every 13 days.  50 calls have been filed in 2017, which averages a call every 5 days.  Additionally, they have several health department violations (and their shake machine never works Wink).

Seems like one is a far larger strain on our public safety resources than the other.  And this only looks at police reports; it doesn't include visits by the MFD where no police report was filed.

Looking at the other bar in the news, 3rd Base Cafe at 911 Crawford Street, there's been 122 calls since 13-Jun-2007, with the earliest entry being 13-Jun-2007.  That's 122 calls over 3,737 days, or an average of one police call every 31 days.  6 calls have been filed in 2017, which averages a call every 41 days.  However, since 25-Aug-2017, just over 12 months ago, 6 of the 22 calls in that time period have been for shootings or shots fired, including the last two reports filed as recently as this weekend.  It also has multiple liquor license violations. Wouldn't this facility also fall under a nuisance property issue?  Why not buy this (equally awful looking) building and tear it down as well?

(Just as a side note, 2900 Towne Boulevard has had 2111 complaints filed since 2-Jun-2007.  That address would be Wal-Mart.  So volume of calls can't be the only justification for drain on resources.)

Seems that the "drain on the city's resources" isn't 100% of the real reason.  If that was the case, we'd be trying to tear down McDonald's or Wal-Mart.  Could it be that the guy operating the bar doesn't feel like cooperating with the MPD and the city, which would be a big difference I think.  Or that the income and sales tax money coming in is also far less?

But I have to wonder with the laundry list of violations from the state against their Liquor License, and also apparently with the property owner Mr. Napier, why does the city have to throw its (our) money into the game by buying a property and tearing it down.  There are far less costly (to us) methods to follow.  Mr. Napier can evict them from their lease.  The liquor license can be contested and invalidated.

What happened to the city not wanting to be in the real estate business?  Is that just the line when it is convenient?  Seems like there are other avenues available in which to remedy this issue other than spending more of our money buying and tearing down buildings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 05 2017 at 11:19am
Remember this, it was Doug Adkins in early 2009 who declared that there was no real need for the Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC).  He noted that having Judy Gilleland and HUD to oversee the city's CDBG and HOME Programs was sufficient.

Remember this, since he and Ginger Smith scuttled any semblance of true citizens participation, you are left with One Donham Abbey and Middletown Journal self-serving news releases and sanitized reporting to have any idea as to what may really taking place with HUD funds.  And, were it not for the VERY FEW concerned citizens and MUSA participants like Acclaro, Vivian Moon, MiddletownScouter, Whistler'sMom, WhatACity, etc., the city's priorities, policies, plans and programs plus EXPENDITURES would avoid such badly needed scrutiny.

The existence of MUSA provides everyone with a voice.  You can utilize this public forum to improve the city or to idly watch from the sidelines or be a politically correct fence-sitter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 05 2017 at 4:04pm
Earlier today Vivian Moon spoke with two unnamed city council members regarding this matter.  She learned from one that city staff does have HUD correspondence approving usage of CDBG funds for this purpose.  However, for the city to expend said funds for this purpose, it must declare this endeavor as a SLUM AND BLIGHT activity.  Additionally, it also requires the property to be demolished.

As I've noted previously, are there outstanding building and health code violations for this property?  Has any qualified expert done a comprehensive building evaluation to determine that demolition is the only course of action?

What will become of this undersized property following acquisition and demolition?  What CDBG regulations govern the disposition of this acquired property?  So many questions.  I suspect that city council will approve this EMERGENCY legislation tonight.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 05 2017 at 5:07pm

 Neither of the two council members (who were consulted) nor the public has seen the required written approval from HUD to acquire this property which must be declared slum and blight in order to be eligible.  


Until such document is produced, Council should table the ordinance, instead of unnecessarily shoving it through under emergency legislation. The city (Mr Adkins in particular) has been reprimanded for similar misuse of CDBG funds, after the fact. Now they feel that they can continue to break the rules with impunity by just ignoring them and just get another slap on the wrist.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 06 2017 at 11:17pm

The legislation to purchase Boca-Bar was passed under what might be false pretenses concerning the supposed blighted condition of the building. The real problem was the business not the building its self. Adkins has successfully gone under the radar again.

Cunningham’s “testimony” that the building had a blocked in window in the front did not qualify the property as blighted. It appears there have been no work orders or issues about the condition of the building! BUT, in order to use CDBG funds to purchase it, the building had to be DECLARED blight (TRUE OR NOT) to comply with the rules. THEN, the CDBG rules also require that blight be removed, so the building has to be torn down unnecessarily in order to obtain CDBG funds. This may not be illegal but that doesn’t make it right. What will become of a lot that size? Will the city have to mow it forever or are there other plans for it?

Adkins has mastered all the ways and means of circumventing and bending rules and regulations. It is note worthy that this invariably occurs under “emergency legislation” so that no one has an opportunity to object or even ask a question before it’s a done deal. CDBG funds have been among the most frequent topics on council’s agenda for years. Have Council members ever made any effort to familiarize themselves with the important issue of CDBG rules and regulations in order to form their own opinion rather than take someone elses (Mr Adkins’) word for this or any other issue for that matter??

When a question is put to Mr Adkins, City Council Members, or any spokes person from the city’s bureaucracy, perhaps we should, for each occurrence or council meeting, require them to take the same oath to which a witness must swear in court, “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!!!!

After all, in council meetings they have essentially gagged and blindfolded the tax payer by ignoring the “sunshine law” and taking items into “executive session” that should be subject to public scrutiny. They double talk to government agencies and get “free money” which they can then redirect for their own purposes under any desired “emergency legislation.” Emergency legislation is the tool of choice from the bag of dirty tricks used to side step the sunshine law and citizen input.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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For anyone with relevant experience/expertise in CDBG programs, this past Tuesday night's city council meeting was a classic "COMMAND PERFORMANCE" in justifying the acquisition/demolition of 124 Charles Street plus the expenditure of $50,000+/- of limited city funds.  In plain view, we were educated as to why millions in HUD funding (CDBG, HOME, NSP, etc.) have not made more and a lasting positive impact in revitalizing Middletown.

In recognition of Whistler'sMom and some MUSA participants (MiddletownScouter, Vivian Moon, Acclaro, Whatacity, etc.), was this action the highest, best and most cost effective use of CDBG funds?

A couple of questions are hereby submitted to Doug Adkins and Kyle Fooks for clarification:

1) Is the liquor license issued to the Boca-Bar owner and/or last proprietor still active? 2) Is said liquor license transferable should the Boca-Bar owner and/or last proprietor desire to relocate the bar to a new location? 3) will additional so-called "problem bars" like Third Base be offered a similar future CDBG-funded buyout? 4) have arrangements already been made with any existing Boca-Bar adjoining property owners to purchase said undersized lot for a nominal cost for new off-street parking purposes? and, 5) will senior city staff provide the general public with a final accounting of all CDBG-funded costs associated with their "Slum and Blight" project?

Only five years from now, it will be interesting to see how far or how little Middletown has/has not progressed in resolving various community betterment problems.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote middletownscouter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 07 2017 at 12:52pm
A couple of those questions can be answered with a little searching around on different websites.

The liquor license #60699230005, issued to "M And J Hospitality" DBA Bar Boca (Ebony Dudley listed as the managing member) is still active though it has several open cases pending per the Ohio Liquor Control website.

The license is tied to a location, but it can be moved from one location to the next.  Here's some info from that website:
Quote Section 4303.272 Of The Ohio Revised Code Provides:

Any permit holder whose permit premises are destroyed or made unusable for any cause, or whose tenancy is terminated for any cause, shall deliver his permit to the Department of Commerce - Division of Liquor Control for safekeeping until such time as the original permit premises are made available for occupancy or new premises are secured by the permit holder or until new premises are secured by the permit holder outside the precinct affected by a local option election.

Section 4301:1-1-16 Of The Ohio Administrative Code Provides:

If a permit holder is unable to conduct his permit business by reasons of illness or other physical disability for a period in excess of thirty days, or if a permit holder desires to discontinue the operation of his business for a period in excess of thirty days , he must notify the Division of Liquor Control by affidavit, or the affidavit of a majority of the officers or stockholders of the corporate permit holder, giving the reason for the request and specifying the period of time he wishes to remain closed.

Any closing authority shall not extend beyond one hundred eighty days, except for good cause. During the period of closing authority, the permit premises shall not be used for any other purpose. At the end of the closing authority period, the permit holder shall resume operation. If the permit holder is unable to resume operation and no extension has been granted, the Division of Liquor Control shall not again renew the permit. Non-compliance with the above provisions shall be grounds for suspension, revocation, or rejection of the permit.

So in the end they've managed to shut down that bar, but it hasn't stopped the liquor license holder (the cause of these problems) from setting up shop somewhere else without further actions being taken like contesting the license to get it revoked.

Which from what I can tell could have been done without spending 50k to bail out the property owner of any responsibility and potentially just relocating a problem rather than solving it permanently.

And that leads into a totally different arena, the property owner.  Bar Boca is the second nuisance bar operating in recent years out of Mr. Napier's property, yet he's getting paid good money by the city to sell the property without having to accept any consequence to his failures as a landlord that allowed these conditions to exist in the first place.  He's getting $35k for a supposed blighted property.  While the county says is worth about $45k, he paid $38k for the building some 32 years ago.  Pretty sure he's coming out ahead in the deal.  Why are we continually bailing out property owners?  Didn't we just pass some nuisance property laws recently?  Were those followed?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 07 2017 at 1:12pm
Thanks so much MiddletownScouter.  It's painfully obvious that Doug Adkins, Kyle Fooks plus city council members are seemingly oblivious/indifferent when it comes to being stewards of the citizens money (CDBG and other HUD funds).

There's been a wealth of substantiated information posted on the MUSA blog over the past eight plus years.  It would behoove many MUSA participants to spend some time and become educated about the lost opportunities to rebuild the city.  It should also be emphasized that the lack of blog posts on matters like the Boca-Barth gives One Donham Abbey folks the notion that they can do most anything and not be subject to the scrutiny of the general public.

You can be part of the solution or be part of the problem by default.  As was said several times before on the Blog, the ball is your court.  The continued stagnation or the (hoped for) rejuvenation of Middletown is partially in your hands.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 07 2017 at 2:12pm
What is really a shame is that people who join this list - who want to make a difference in this city - who are willing to run for office to change things - who genuinely enjoy the banter and discussion and want to learn - get treated like el crapola by people like you, Nelson.

There ya go - had to be said.

Bob
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 09 2017 at 11:30pm
Okay,

Since ol' Nelson is up to his usual nonsense of posting things - then deleting them - taking digs at people and retracting them before people see them - I'm going to take this opportunity to respond to some of those.

"An apathetic citizenry helps enable top One Donham Abbey bureaucrats, citizen-elected city council members, print media cronies and other power broker allies to "govern" unchallenged.  An observant, assertive, informed and vocal citizenry counteracts apathy when it comes to special interest priorities, policies, plans and programs." 

I don't get it - a vocal citizenry isn't apathetic by definition - but I think I understand the point.  But - there's only one thing the citizenry can do to change things...this council (taken as a whole, not individually) doesn't necessarily follow the wishes of the citizens - nor does it feel it should have to.  We have a strong manager form of government.  I've had conversations with members of council who all make the same statement - the manager is the one who runs the show.  He's got the staff, he prepares all the directives.  He makes the recommendations, council approves them.  Unless there's major objections - the system works as described.

I'm not sure I like the idea - but it is what it is.  I don't believe, at this point, apathy matters.  If 100 people showed up at the next council meeting to oppose something, do you really think council would defeat it with a vote?  I'm not so sure. 

These decisions are made long before meetings are held.  I think the best way forward for change is at the ballot box - and the ballot box alone.

"The attendance/lack of attendance at city council meetings speaks volumes.  Also true is the number, validity and substance of Middletown Journal citizen comments plus MUSA blog posts."

Really?  I wonder why people don't post enough on these forums?

"To label valid apathy concerns as "crapola" causes one to recall the character Archie Bunker from "All in the Family" 1970's television days."

You apparently didn't either comprehend or fully read my post.  I wasn't labeling apathy concerns anything - I was labeling YOU.  You treat me like crap - you've tried to ruin me - you're the one who is single minded of vision and thinks the only way this city will better itself is by getting more government grants.  Yeah - it's worked REAL well in the past.  Even if the entirety of downtown was 'revitalized' - still no one would want to go there.  It's not a destination.  

You want more out here?  Leave people alone who provoke thought.  Support those who want to run for office - those who actually want to make a difference - not just sit here and moan in the forums.

"The podium is now yours to provide tangible, real world, detailed priorities, policies, plans and programs that will both successfully and economically revitalize Middletown."

Good!  However - you won't like my plan - so I'm not going to share it - not worth the argument and it'll save me hours of time in responding.

"Please limit your responses to specifics rather than generic statements like "the city needs jobs, jobs, jobs." "  

Nelson - how else do you get people off drugs, welfare, government housing and the like?  Oh yeah - JOBS!  Works everytime it is tried.  Until this city gets them - we've no shot at overcoming these issues.

"Please limit your responses to remedies that will resuscitate the downtown and older neighborhoods rather than generic statements like "let these areas burn.""

Let these areas burn.  Whoops - just violated the last commandment.  I'm sorry - if private money won't go in those areas and do something with those properties - there's a reason - and the taxpayer shouldn't be on the hook for it.  Why do we have this idea that downtown is worth spending money - while we can't get a nickel for any REAL development.

You say - what are you talking about?  You do realize that our fair city has to make an $800k payment every year right?

Bob



Buddhalite - about 80 pounds short of a full buddha, but was 30 over so the diet is working! Down 90 now....long way still to go!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2017 at 10:08am
The credibility and relevance of the MUSA blog has been faithfully sustained by people such as SpiderJohn, VietVet, Whistler'sMom, WhatACity, MiddletownScouter, VivianMoon, Acclaro, etc., etc.  It is not sustained by those who seek attention while continually fostering acrimony and personal conflict.

Middletown's deficiencies have been voiced many times over the past decade on this blog.  Potential new policy and programmatic solutions have been detailed by some.  Best practices efforts of other communities have been offered as well as alternative considerations to the status quo.

Shallow generalities posted about the plight of Middletown only serve to reinforce what is already known.  Specifics regarding highest and best use, cost-effective priorities, policies, plans and programs are needed to diminish public apathy and to get the attention of senior One Donham Abbey staff plus city council members.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 10 2017 at 3:33pm
I've remained grateful for the existence of the MUSA blog since I submitted my first post in May 2009.  It's allowed many the privilege to voice both concerns and recommendations about the short- and long-range direction of the city.  It's been a forum where highest/best use and cost-effective alternatives have been/are offered regarding new priorities, policies, plans and programs that may yield enhanced community sustainability.

MUSA forum remains the only real vehicle for citizens to be heard.  It deserves your full support to ensure its' continued presence.

You're in good hands with people like Whistler'sMom, SpiderJohn, MiddletownScouter, VietVet, VivianMoon, SWOHIO75, WhatACity, Acclaro and others who keep a close eye on matters involving the city.  They're in the forefront and help mightily in sustaining the mission of the MUSA blog.  From a distance geographically and otherwise, I'll be an observer only and source of encouragement.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 11 2017 at 9:23am

Our “friendly” staff writer, Ed Richter’s front page article in the Sunday, 9/10/2017, Journal News, is headlined second only to the epic hurricane Irma. He has a prominent spot to essentially praise the city for their “solution” in dealing with a problem bar. The article attempts to explain how the city is doing “the right thing.” But if you read between the lines, you will see they are going about it the wrong way! Ed and City Hall have had a lot of practice at this.

Read the article and the comments inserted in red.

City will buy problem bar — and demolish it

Middletown will spend $35K in federal grant money to buy Bar Boca.

By Ed Richter
Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN — Middletown officials have come up with a solution in dealing with a bar that has become a neighborhood nuisance and a drain on public safety resources: Buy it, then demolish it. Middletown will spend $35,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to purchase Bar Boca, 124 Charles St. Purchasing and demolishing the building will prevent it from being re-used as a bar, said City Manager Doug Adkins. “This building has no good use,” he said. A future use for the property has not yet been determined.

The city has said it wants out of the real estate business, right?

Middletown police Lt. Jimmy Cunningham, who negotiated the purchase deal with property owner Charles Napier, said the decision was “huge.”“We’re able to eliminate a problem and save the city thousands of dollars in the long run and save some lives,” he said. “The neighborhood signed petitions to get rid of the bar because of all the problems.”

There have been 80 calls for service to Bar Boca in the past eight months, according to Cunningham. He said since 2008, there have been 230 calls for service to that bar under different owners. He said in the past several months there have been numerous calls for felonious assaults, shots fired, public disturbance, weapons complaints, assault and violation of liquor laws.

The city has nuisance ordinance that are quite stringent, but were not used in this case of serious and numerous violations.

Cunningham said the costs to send police officers to the bar on a call for service or to investigate a crime at the bar takes away resources from the rest of the city. He said depending on the type of call, it could require multiple officers to respond. If there is an injury and medics are called, that only increases the costs in terms of personnel, vehicle and other costs.

We’ve spent a substantial amount of money due to the existence of this bar,” he said. Due to the violation of liquor laws and numerous other incidents, Kyle Fuchs, community revitalization director, said police met with the operators of the bar and attempted to get them into compliance with local and state laws to no avail.

The “attempts” by the city and police and Fuchs to get the bar into compliance, involving a number of different bar businesses over an extended period of time certainly seems half-hearted. The city could have saved money by enforcing the law years ago.

As a result, the property owner agreed to sell the building to the city.

Sooo, the property owner is only too happy to have the city buy his property, be relieved of any financial responsibility and walk away with money in hand. How many other nuisance properties has the city purchased in this manner?

Cunningham said it’s difficult and costly for the city to build a solid nuisance case to close a bar because it takes a significant amount of time. The courts need an overwhelming amount of evidence before a judge will take away a person’s livelihood.

The city and the courts only had 9 years (since 2008, as stated above) to build a solid nuisance case. And 230 calls for service during that time was not overwhelming enough for the city to take action??? Why is the city buying and tearing down this building, (thus losing more tax base), when it should be the owner’s responsibility? Does there seem to be some special consideration here?

We are delighted that things were able to be worked out the way they were,” said Joe Ruscigno, project director for M&J Hospitality, the company that owned the Bar Boca business. “We agree with the city.” Ruscigno added that there probably shouldn’t have been a liquor establishment located in the neighborhood.

Yes, wouldn’t you be delighted as the owner/operator of a nuisance bar business to leave with your liquor license intact and no fines levied? If Ruscigno thought this location was not appropriate for a bar, why was his business established there? Question: Isn’t there another bar nearby in that neighborhood?

We’re all excited about it,” resident Ronnie Perkins said of the planned demolition. “We think it’s a great thing the city is buying it. Ever since they extended that bar, there have been problems.”Perkins, who has lived across the street from the bar for the past 26 years, went around the neighborhood getting residents to sign a petition for the city to take action.

Note that the word demolition is not part of the quotation of Mr Perkins. He only talks about the city’s purchase.

I was here first,” he said. “I’m not leaving.”Perkins said he has cameras all around his home in case someone damages his property.“The other thing homeowners don’t know is that their property values have gone up without the bar,” he said. “Our homes are worth $5,000 to $10,000 more with the bar gone.”

A woman who lives on North Avenue near the bar said it was nice to sit out in her backyard at night again. The woman, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said she hasn’t seen any needles or broken beer bottles in a nearby alley since the bar closed. “The prostitution has also slowed down big time,” she said.

The only upside to this action is …. that action was taken to the satisfaction of the neighborhood. It should have taken place years ago and not at the cost of the city (misuse of CDBG funds, IMO). Demolition has been the city’s solution to most problems presented and called it revitalization. What follows demolition is loss of property tax base and another maintenance problem which costs the city more money. Mr Adkins has repeatedly requested more funds to maintain “empty lots of revitalization” all over town.

Bar Boca marks the second time a bar in that location was shut down by the city.

Miller’s Lounge closed in 2014 after repeated nuisance violations, police said. Cunningham said before that, it was known as the Pinkk Panther bar. It has also been known as the Office Bar and Git R Done.

Last week’s vote on the Bar Boca purchase passed unanimously, with Councilman Steve Bohannon abstaining.

Council shoved this through on emergency legislation with Adkins’ prompting even though there was citizen protest and questions. No reason for Bohanon’s abstaining was given. Shouldn’t he have explained and does it have any bearing on reasons for the city to buy the bar?

Contact this reporter at

513-755-5067 or email

Ed.Richter@coxinc.com.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 11 2017 at 9:26pm
In defense of Ed Richter - I see nothing in his story that is anything more or less than what he was fed from the council workbook, the public comments (of which there were none - I emailed One Donham in advance due to a scheduling conflict or I'd have been there) and the manager's own comments on it.

I don't see what calling him a 'friendly' has to do with anything - he prints what he hears - and I've never had a problem bending his ear to help shape what he writes.  

This buyout of property was wrong. Flat wrong - and it just opens the door to having to do this again now with the 'third base saloon' - which oh yeah, someone was waving a gun out of a car over there yesterday.  Argh.  

I can't say I'm an expert on CDBG funds - but - buying a nuisance bar and tearing it down isn't exactly keeping with the first two letters of the acronym.....

If it really is a misuse of the funds - what resource do we the people have?  Also - why are we not taking them at their word about the letter detailing the go-ahead to use the funds?  Anyone called downtown and asked for a copy?  I enjoy conjecture with the best of them, but I also have limits. :-)

Could it be that Mr. Bohannon's abstaining was simply the effect of public pressure to downvote and the act was some sort of nod that he heard but was powerless to stop it?

Bob
Buddhalite - about 80 pounds short of a full buddha, but was 30 over so the diet is working! Down 90 now....long way still to go!
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