Hamilton council discusses ways to spend $33 million federal windfall

Council Member Michael Ryan has suggested Hamilton dedicate $3 million of the $33.6 million in federal ARPA funds to fixing Hamilton streets. He noted that's equal to the amount city residents pay each year under Hamilton's street-repair levy. This section of Tylersville Road is to be paved this year. NIVK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Council Member Michael Ryan has suggested Hamilton dedicate $3 million of the $33.6 million in federal ARPA funds to fixing Hamilton streets. He noted that's equal to the amount city residents pay each year under Hamilton's street-repair levy. This section of Tylersville Road is to be paved this year. NIVK GRAHAM / STAFF

Police station? Fire station? Street repairs? Decisions expected in the weeks ahead.

Hamilton City Council this week heard a variety of wats it can spend $33.6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act the city will receive in coming years.

Among them: A fire station to replace the one on Laurel Avenue in the Lindenwald neighborhood that is more than 110 years old and “was built for horse-drawn fire pumpers,” said the city’s safety director, Scott Scrimizzi. “The station was not designed for the size and weight of the current fire apparatus that we have.”

He proposed replacing that two-bay fire station with one that has six or eight, with half facing in opposite directions from the station. He estimated the cost could be $4-4.5 million.

Rather than Scrimizzi’s previous proposal of a station on Ohio 4 near the city’s garage and repair shop, he and Fire Chief Mark Mercer now are proposing a station close to the South Hamilton Crossing that can more quickly serve areas east and west of the CSX tracks.

“Just so we don’t get a lot of people upset right now, there’s been no decision made,” Scrimizzi said. Expressing sensitivity to the fact Lindenwald residents will be concerned about losing their fire station, he said there are locations “that will make everybody happy” and improve response times across the eastern part of the city.

“We have a general location,” he said. “I’ll just let the cat out of the bag here. We’re looking at a location near the South Hamilton Crossing.”

“We’d be literally right near the overpass,” he said.

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More than a century after plans were first proposed to deal with railroad tracks’ negative impact on traffic, the city of Hamilton Saturday dedicated the Jim Blount South Hamilton Crossing overpass. The five-lane overpass was touted by Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller - and other local and state officials - as a “game-changer” for the city and the regional that will speed economic development and add to the quality of life in the Butler County city.

More than a century after plans were first proposed to deal with railroad tracks’ negative impact on traffic, the city of Hamilton Saturday dedicated the Jim Blount South Hamilton Crossing overpass. The five-lane overpass was touted by Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller - and other local and state officials - as a “game-changer” for the city and the regional that will speed economic development and add to the quality of life in the Butler County city.
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More than a century after plans were first proposed to deal with railroad tracks’ negative impact on traffic, the city of Hamilton Saturday dedicated the Jim Blount South Hamilton Crossing overpass. The five-lane overpass was touted by Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller - and other local and state officials - as a “game-changer” for the city and the regional that will speed economic development and add to the quality of life in the Butler County city.

ExploreHamilton staff has plan for spending $33.6 million, but council wants to hear from residents

He again also proposed a police headquarters to replace the current one at 331 S. Front St., a former Kroger store that the police moved into during the late 1970s.

“It was designed to be a grocery store, not a police station,” Scrimizzi said. By building a 65,000-square-foot building that could house Hamilton Municipal Court and the police station, at a cost around $30 million, the city could reduce its costs and liability of transporting inmates to and from the court, which now is on the second floor of Hamilton’s city government tower at High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, he said.

That also would free up the second floor of the city building to be occupied by another private company, Scrimizzi noted.

ExploreHamilton’s unique development tool: Renting office space in the government tower

Council Member Carla Fiehrer said there could be another benefit of moving the municipal court from the city building: When the park atmosphere was created nearby at Journal Square, the city didn’t anticipate it would be occupied by people between court dates, making the area less appealing to visitors, she said.

“It’s an economic development issue,” Fiehrer said.

Council Member Michael Ryan said he would like to see more money spent on street repairs, and suggested $3 million, which represents the amount taxpayers are paying each year through the recent street-repair levy.

“I don’t see any streets on the list (under the city staff’s proposed spending of the ARPA money),” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how the rest of council feels about it, but the residents are currently paying on a street levy now that generates about $3 million a year.”

He recommends spending $3 million of the ARPA funds to repair streets, because “we have an opportunity to take some of the pain away.”

Council hopes to make decisions about the spending in coming weeks. Fiehrer said she hoped council would wait two meetings to give city residents opportunities to express their preferences during those meetings.

One way officials hope to be able to spend more money on street repairs is by spending more than $2 million in ARPA funds to pay for storm-sewer repairs that have needed to be made below the streets the city has been paving, particularly in the stormwater-troubled Corwin Avenue area.

City Manager Joshua Smith said that by using the $2 million that way, the city can avoid increasing its stormwater fees to property owners and also be able to pave more streets.

In efforts to find ways to pave streets more quickly, council asked city staff to provide a list of roadways that can be repaired without the need to repair storm sewers or make other expensive repairs below them. The city also will evaluate ways to provide pavement overcoats to street surfaces that almost are like crack sealing, but spread across the entire street surface.

The city staff has not designated any money to address mental health and homelessness. Smith told the council that assistance will be requested from the county’s share of ARPA funds.

With several private companies now occupying the government tower, the city also is proposing a $50,000 remodeling to its lobby area to provide better customer service to people entering the building.

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Hamilton and Butler County towers at 345 High St. and 315 High St. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

Hamilton and Butler County towers at 345 High St. and 315 High St. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
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Hamilton and Butler County towers at 345 High St. and 315 High St. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

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