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Middletown question

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Joined: May 16 2008
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    Posted: Jul 29 2016 at 8:03pm

Posted: 5:09 p.m. Friday, July 29, 2016

Middletown question: Fix crumbling streets or invest in East End?

City leaders, residents offer thoughts on road work and development that could bring more jobs.

By Mike Rutledge

Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN 

The city of Middletown expects to receive a one-time revenue windfall of $1 million to $2 million in coming years from construction projects, City Manager Doug Adkins told the Middletown Board of Education in a joint meeting with Middletown City Council.

He told school officials the city council faces this question: Should the money be spent on the city’s crumbling streets, whose repair needs are estimated at nearly $162 million, or invest it in its East End/Renaissance area near Interstate 75 and Ohio 122, to sow seeds for future economic development?

Adkins appeared to favor the East End investment then, but he declined to elaborate this week, saying he was out of town.

Residents have clamored for street repairs. When asked last year as part of the “What If Middletown” visioning process what would make their city better, citizens said they wanted improved streets, reopening of community pools and a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

One possibility Adkins outlined to Middletown City Council in January was a $3-per-month-or-so assessment on homes and businesses to pay the city’s street-lighting bills, so the approximately $750,000 per year the city sends to Duke Energy can be spent instead on street paving.

According to city documents the Journal-News obtained this week through use of Ohio’s public-records laws, only 35 percent of Middletown’s streets were in satisfactory or good shape as of 2013, a 2015 city examination found.

Another 18 percent were very poor/failed; 28 percent were poor; and 19 percent were fair, according to the study.

Looking at a color-coded map created to show block-by-block street conditions, also obtained through open-records laws, city streets are dominated by brick-red, red and orange lines — representing the three worst categories. Yellow and green, representing good and satisfactory, respectively, are less common.

Calls for street repairs

Middletown resident Amy Hocz Chambers no longer lives on Hampton Place, but her mother still does. If the decision were up to Chambers, she would fix the city’s crumbling roadways rather than spend on new areas.

“We live on Central, but I grew up on Hampton Place, and by my mom’s house, there’s literally a piece of the street missing, and it’s really bumpy,” she said. “I think about it because my mom has a really bad back. So if I drive her anywhere, it’s just really painful for her.”

“I would much rather them invest in the current streets before they work on something else,” Hocz Chambers said.

Middletown resident John Downing is among many who are thankful for “nice improvement to the recently completed section of Central Avenue, but many of streets still resemble that of a bombed-out third world country.”

Jim Klontz, 54, who lives between Gratis and Middletown, grew up in Middletown and has restored historic buildings downtown. He argues, “If you want to revitalize, start with the streets. If you come in downtown, and the streets are nice, the sidewalks are taken care of, that to me is part of the experience. If they’ve got good roads and good sidewalks in the downtown area, it makes the whole experience much better.”

Told about Adkins’ question of whether to spend on the East End or streets, Klontz, advised, “If you want to draw people into the city, as soon as they pull off the highway, you’ve got to have something that’s going to catch you.”

Investing in East End

Adkins told city and school officials July 19: “I asked our Public Works Department in 2014 to update us on what it would take to put every road in the city back into at least fair condition, and I’m not going to lie to you, the first thing was, ‘Pffft.’” Adkins said. “And I said, ‘I get it, but you got to get me a number.’”

So “there’s a five-point system that you rate paving, and they rated all the paving in the city,” Adkins said. “And the answer is, on top of the $400 million that we need for water and sewer, we need another $162 million to pave our roads and get them back in condition again.”

The city is making some progress, largely due to state and federal grants, he said: “We have some roads we’re doing right now. We’re working on Oxford State Road. We just finished Central Avenue. We’re going onto Yankee Road in 2018. We believe we’ll have about $5 million in paving done by 2020.”

Also, as the city excavates roads to perform sewer improvements required by state and federal environmental regulators, the city estimates $25 million of the estimated $400 million in sewer- and water-line construction will help repave areas of streets after the construction is finished.

“There’s some things that are kind of cool, and … they’ll be lucky for us,” Adkins said. “Revenues, we have all this construction. NTE (Energy’s), $600 million of construction (of a power plant). There’s new schools, we’re getting income tax off the construction. The apartments, all those things are generating a one-time income tax for the construction labor that’s going on.”

“We have to grab that and do smart things with it,” he added. “When we talk about putting infrastructure out at the East End — water and sewer. You know, I can pave some streets. Or I can invest that in the East End, so that we can develop acres and acres of new jobs. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to be smart about how we use that money.”

Adkins added: “So it’s important to now be smart over the next few years as we get this $1 million, $2 million of construction income. It’ll come, it’ll go, they (construction workers) leave the town, invest that money smartly so that we’re using that to bring new jobs to the city.”

Council opinions

The Journal-News asked council members what they think about how to spend the money. Vice Mayor Dora Bronston and council members Dan Picard and Steve Bohannon did not respond. Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. and Councilman Talbott Moon did.

“It is likely a little premature to speculate on how to spend money we haven’t yet earned,” Mulligan said via email. “The purpose of the meeting was to share information on each entity and keep an open dialogue. Share issues we face, etc.”

“Our list of needs is great and our resources are quite limited,” Mulligan added. “Street repair and maintenance, along with economic development, are some of the top priorities for the city. Both benefit the city but have different long-term impacts. I believe we should do some of each, but since we don’t have the total of one-time tax revenues nor the cost of what infrastructure would be needed or a list of streets to be repaired, it would be difficult to put a percentage on it.”

Moon called the condition of roads “one of the most important issues facing our city and a priority for our residents,” whereas, “the available land on our East End is crucial to driving new commercial development and thus sustainable tax revenues so that we can meet our paving needs year after year.”

“At the moment,” Moon added, “I have not seen how much revenue will be generated by these one-time projects, the costs associated with running utilities or the number of acres that would be impacted. Planning for future development, running utilities and repairing our roads are all priorities and all important. If revenues allow, I would like to see funds spent not only investing in the infrastructure needed to drive new jobs, development and revenue but also meeting some of our street repair needs.”

Mulligan added: “Doug’s comment about doing smart things is consistent with our plan. We don’t want these one time revenues to be lost and not have a positive impact on the city. Our goal is to develop a sustainable model that addresses those issues. I think we are on the path, but it will take many years to achieve and overcome the issues we face.”


Middletown East End/Renaissance area plans

Here are some other development updates City Manager Doug Adkins recently gave Middletown City Council and the Middletown Board of Education about development of the city’s East End and Renaissance area near Interstate 75 and Ohio 122:

·                       The city is working to obtain “site certifications” for properties in the East End, under a new program administered by the state, Adkins said. “If you have a certification in your hand, and somebody says, ‘Hey … I need a 10-acre site, what kind of land is this?’ It gives you the environmentals, it gives you (information about whether the property has) access to utilities. Everything you would need as a decision-maker to know if that 10 acres would work for you is going to be pre-done, certified by the state as accurate. And we’ll be ready to hand that out. We’re working on several sites on the East End through that.”

·                       “I’ve got 600 acres out on the East End,” he said. “We are meeting this week, actually, (the week of July 18) with Warren County to start talking about how do we get water and sewer out to there, because right now, a lot of that’s farmland, and if there’s no utilities out there, frankly, it’s not much else than farmland,” Adkins said.

·                       Middletown officials are talking with Franklin Township “about expanding further, beyond the 600 acres,” and the township is interested in doing so, Adkins said.

 

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What A City View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 30 2016 at 7:16pm
With the track record of Middletown's Economic Development Dept., is it a good idea to assign yet more money for them to attempt to attract more companies/jobs to this city? Wouldn't providing more money for this weak performing department be the same as taking the money and lighting it on fire? Talk about a weak link in a chain.

Just wondering, with the millions plowed into the downtown area over the last two decades, how far that would have gone toward fixing the many streets that are now down to the sublayer gravel if the same money was directed toward the roads in that same period of time. Wouldn't it have been nice to have been driving on some smooth roads around town rather than see the results of that money spent, as we see it now........empty storefronts, businesses opening and closing on a repetitious basis, stores catering to only the so-called cultural/artzy types that support the longstanding theme of the city leaders for their downtown area and most stores that occupy the downtown are of no interest to 90% of the citizens living here. 

Stop spending taxpayer money in the downtown area and let the private business sector take care of any financing in business startups. They take the chance on failure, not the taxpayers. You have already wasted millions of our money producing little to no gain for the majority of the people. The monetary handouts to people who are never prepared to deliver on what they promise needed to stop years ago. Both the city manager and council need to wake up and stop this practice. Just as you have stopped giving TV Middletown funding, so too, should you stop providing government financial assistance in the downtown area. Let the Downtown Partnerships and fellow cultural revelers figure how to finance their dreams. Their dreams are not connected to 90% of citizens in this city. 
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Analytical View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 31 2016 at 4:37pm
What A City offers more good suggestions for us to ponder.  I'm told that he's a successful local businessman who has created jobs without taxpayer assisted handouts and typical bureaucratic waste..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2016 at 7:23am
Originally posted by Analytical Analytical wrote:


What A City offers more good suggestions for us to ponder.  I'm told that he's a successful local businessman who has created jobs without taxpayer assisted handouts and typical bureaucratic waste..



You were told wrong.
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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2016 at 8:55am
"One possibility Adkins outlined to Middletown City Council in January was a $3-per-month-or-so assessment on homes and businesses to pay the city’s street-lighting bills, so the approximately $750,000 per year the city sends to Duke Energy can be spent instead on street paving."

After City Hall has raided the sewer and street funds over the past 30 years once again the citizens are going to be ask to give them more money in the form of a perment increase on their water bill....
If City Hall wants more money then they need to ask for an increase in taxes and put it on the ballott for a vote.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2016 at 11:08am
Still haven't seen the Street Repair budget item reinstated that was raided when the voters agreed to let the city use the money for other needs back in the 80's. Most voters thought it was a one time raid on the street funds at that time. We were lied to again as usual.

Why hasn't the street fund been reinstated Mr. City Manager? Where has the money gone that would have been directed toward the street fund?

Haven't heard about the people paying extra for street light usage since it was first suggested. Kinda goes along with the idea that you can get your street repaved if you can get buy in from a certain percentage of the neighbors and you pay for the repaving. Guess the city doesn't want to do their fair share in providing basic services for the people but are perfectly content to provide them at OUR EXPENSE. Like the sidewalks, the streets are the city's property. Let'em fix it themselves. Pathetic concept on the city's part. Just wonder how that street repaving idea is going as to success rate. I would think there has been a lack of enthusiasm coming from any neighborhood in the city to participate in this ridiculous proposal.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2016 at 11:55am
My apologies to 'What A City.'  Instead, I should have complimented 'Truth Teller.'  Oh, and before I forget, what's the status of the asbestos-riddled Strand Theatre building, etc., etc. etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.?
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spiderjohn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2016 at 12:30pm
can we simply call a tax a tax?
is our water/trash billing now a catch-all for all city services and fee changes?

I read the manager's statement
Sounds to me that he is saying that we could fix a few streets(or sewers), but it would only be a drop in the bucket--we could use the $$ for more colored lights and signs in the east end or maybe shuffle some cash in to another DMI, façade grant or "our downtown concept".

1-2 mill would buy a lot of chik filet sandwiches---if chik filet wanted to come here, they would be here(they used to be here!)

people want pools re-opened?
we have no more pools!
just empty parks

fix the streets, sewers and control the crime/drugs
improve the school results
quit giving property away downtown hoping something will stick(if they can't afford to buy it then they probably can't afford to operate it), killing real estate values
then maybe people will value Middletown and quality retail/food service will come?
just tell them what they want to hear or remain silent

jmo

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2016 at 4:41pm
The revitalization efforts of Adkins, Robinette, Fooks, etc., as was started earlier by Gilleland, Kohler, Robinette, etc., will lead Middletown to the Promised Land.  Hallelujah. What a bright future? It's time for Forbes Magazine to do a follow-up feature article.
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Bocephus View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bocephus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 05 2016 at 12:53am
How rich! After the downtowners burned all the reserve cash on bringing the downtown "back to life" (snicker) and their "special" projects now they  want us to make a choice streets or east end? What a joke I say f - - - off idiots you're way too late to make a difference but hey great job downtown the drunks can now slosh their drinks around as they walk around downtown lol. How about a designated piss area could even make it a flower garden add cat litter and toilet paper rolls in case they become to inebriated too make it to the potty LOL
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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 05 2016 at 10:15am
Bocephus, don't worry about this one time windfall of money. It will go to the East End improvements because of the new AK steel project. 


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Dean View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 05 2016 at 12:03pm
Help you all out. Downtown done because it helps Mulligan and Main property from falling into the ground. East end to fill seats at Fenwick. Not complicated. 

Get out before the huge taxes come in 2020 when school district tales another bite, and city hits the sewer rate massive increase. 

For those not getting it, the money will go to east end, to broaden Fenwick appeal and whatever Reich wants for AKS. 

Change isn't coming, except leaving your pockets.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 05 2016 at 7:27pm
Adkins’ suggestion to City Council to assess $3 per month on homes and businesses is a duplicate tax which deserves zero consideration. Street lights have been paid for with OUR TAX DOLLARS for the last 100 years. Council needs to be reminded that half of the income tax was earmarked for streets; legally, the Auto and Gas Fund from the State can only be used for streets; and one mill of our property tax can only be used legally for street repair. All of these tax dollars have been raked into the city’s general fund and misappropriated for who knows what! All done right under councils noses and with their approval.   Does that sound legal to you? Maintaining our streets is the fiduciary responsibility of our city government. Council, do your job! Stop being mislead and misinformed.
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