Butler County’s three largest cities talk collaboration, communication

The Butler County Government Services Center is shown here. The county's three largest cities are forming a collaboration in the form of two task forces. One between Fairfield and Hamilton, and one between Middletown and Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

Credit: NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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The Butler County Government Services Center is shown here. The county's three largest cities are forming a collaboration in the form of two task forces. One between Fairfield and Hamilton, and one between Middletown and Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

Credit: NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Hamilton to form task force with Fairfield and Middletown to improve collaboration, communication and cooperation.

The three largest cities in Butler County are looking to collaborate.

The collaboration will be in the form of two task forces, one between Fairfield and Hamilton, and one between Middletown and Hamilton.

Hamilton Vice Mayor Michael Ryan said his dad, former Hamilton mayor Don Ryan, was leading the city council the last time Hamilton and Fairfield attempted a collaborative task force. The result of that created Joe Nuxhall Way, a street that runs through both cities.

“Collaboration is key to moving the cities forward,” Ryan said.

That task force did not last as councils in both cities evolved, but Fairfield Mayor Mitch Rhodus and Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller talked in February about restarting the collaborative effort between Butler County’s first- and third-most populous cities.

“We can draft up a list of things we can work on together, and then bring them to the city manager,” Moeller told the Hamilton City Council. “We can see what we can accomplish because they are our neighbors. We have both done well lately and I think it’s good that we move ahead with the Hamilton-Fairfield Task Force so we can talk about some of these things.”

Rhodus said having this communication with the other large cities in Butler County is “the key” to smart growth.

“If one of us is working on a bigger project, like Hamilton in Spooky Nook, Fairfield is going to have overflow, we’re going to have an impact in our community,” he said. “The best way for us to be prepared is by planning with the City Council or the mayor of Hamilton.”

Moeller said while Middletown isn’t a direct neighbor to Hamilton, “we do share a lot of things in common.” For the betterment of Hamilton, Middletown, and Fairfield, “there are certain cost efficiencies we can do, sharing of information, information about social service issues.”

Ryan went to Middletown City Council’s meeting on Tuesday to discuss the task force, which could help by using the 3 Cs: collaboration, communication, and cooperation.

Middletown Mayor Nicole Condrey called Middletown and Hamilton “two tightly connected communities” that can benefit from regional partnerships.

She mentioned the homeless situation, the opioid settlement money, and the renovations of historic buildings as three examples.

When asked how two communities that have competed on the high school athletic fields for decades can work together, she said: “We create competition in order to bond.”

Middletown’s acting City Manager Paul Lolli called the task force “an excellent idea,” then with a smile wondered if Middletown would have to add an exclamation point after its name, referring to what Hamilton did years ago.

Hamilton City Councilmember Carla Fiehrer said though the two task forces will work on specific issues, “I’d like to see the point where all three (cities) come together.”

“Maybe we can work through some issues initially, and maybe in a year, we all meet together,” she said.