MIDDLETOWN — Despite objections from Mayor Nicole Condrey, the rest of Middletown City Council supported a $500,000 supplemental appropriation of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help finance a $13 million aviation education hangar at Middletown Regional Airport.
City Council held a work session last month to discuss ways to allocate the city’s $18.9 million in ARPA funds and City Manager Paul Lolli said two council members asked to have the hangar funding listed as a first reading emergency on Tuesday’s agenda.
The legislation passed 4-1, with Condrey casting the “no” vote.
Condrey said she received the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting on Friday night and she didn’t understand why it was listed as an emergency for a “speculative building,” she said.
“Why are we pushing the timeline?” she told the Journal-News after the meeting.
Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech, made a presentation to City Council last month and asked for $2 million from the city to build the hangar. Then during a work session last month, Condey inquired about more financials related to the project.
“I don’t have enough answers,” Condrey said before voting “no.”
Before she could support spending city dollars on the project more research needed to be completed, she said.
Meanwhile, council members Zack Ferrell and Rodney Muterspaw said after the meeting they strongly endorse the project.
“You can’t go wrong investing in youth,” Muterspaw said.
“It puts Middletown on the map,” Ferrell said.
Besides the city of Middletown, other potential hangar financial support includes Butler County Commissioners ($7 million), Butler Tech ($2 million) and Ohio Site Investment Plan grant ($2 million), according to Graft.
Butler Tech has proposed the construction of a new aviation at the northeastern end of the property, near Ohio 4. Butler Tech will own the hangar and the city will own the property, Lolli said.
The new facility would be utilized to expand Butler Tech’s aviation-related programming for its students, according to Graft. The proposal is for a 25,000-square-foot facility that includes a 10,000-square-foot hangar large enough for classes, labs and community space, Graft said.
The money would be used for building site preparation, utility extensions, taxiway modifications, and related construction activities. The disbursement of funds would be predicated on City Council approving a final land lease and construction agreement with Butler Tech that is being negotiated between the parties, according to a staff report.
Butler Tech began an aviation exploration program in August 2019 at Middletown Regional Airport. There are 25 juniors and 25 seniors in the program that has two main focus areas: flying and aviation and airplane maintenance.
The expanded aviation program has the potential to attract 200 more students to Butler Tech, though not all would be from Middletown, Graft said when asked by council. Butler Tech has 18,000 students in seventh through 12th grade who attend five campuses in Butler and Hamilton counties, he said.
POSSIBLE TIMELINE FOR HANGAR PROJECT
January 2023: Ohio Site Investment Plan grant due
February 2023: Ohio Site Investment Plan grant awarded
March 2023: Roadway, utilities and site preparation complete
April/May 2023: Roadway design complete/site preparation begins
August/September 2023: Construction of roadway and utilities begins
March 2024: Site ready for end user
SOURCE: Butler Tech presentation to City Council
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