In just hours, Middletown’s future leadership sees big changes

In a matter of a few hours on Tuesday night, the future of Middletown’s leadership changed in dramatic fashion.

While the polls were about to close, the current city council approved an emergency preliminary resolution of its intent to begin the removal of Doug Adkins as city manager.

Hours later, voters elected the city’s first woman mayor and another newcomer to the city council while re-electing one council member for another four-year term.

Nicole Condrey was elected as mayor after defeating the city’s first directly elected mayor, 12-year incumbent Larry Mulligan Jr. Monica Nenni, a newcomer to politics, was elected to a four-year term on council. Condrey and Nenni join councilwoman Ami Vitori to form the first majority of women on council in city history. In the same election, Tal Moon was elected to return to the city council.

MORE: Condrey beats 12-year incumbent Mulligan to become Middletown’s first woman mayor

In the resolution initiating the process to terminate Adkins, council cited “irreconcilable differences between Council and Mr. Adkins concerning leadership style, and these differences make his continued work as City Manager untenable.”

Explore MORE: Middletown reacts to council’s move to begin city manager termination

Much of the Middletown community was surprised about the pending termination of Adkins despite the many accomplishments that the city has enjoyed for more than five years. Much of what was achieved was outlined in his plan when he applied and was eventually hired for the position in 2014.

When asked about his reaction to council’s decision to terminate Adkins, the Rev. Michael Bailey said, “my thoughts are, trust the process. I have faith in our council that they will do what’s right for the citizens of Middletown.”

Council also named Susan Cohen, the city’s administrative services director, as the acting city manager.

Cohen, whose salary is $91,608, will receive an additional bi-weekly salary of $1,607 for the duties as acting city manager. After a new city manager is selected, Cohen will revert to serving as administrative services director.

“The instructions that I have been given by council is that it’s business as usual and we’re moving forward,’” Cohen said. “Middletown is open for business.”

She said that “I’ve had my hands in many of the ongoing projects and I have a basic knowledge of what’s going on.”

Councilwoman Ami Vitori said part of why Cohen was tapped to serve as acting city manager was due to her knowledge of many of the projects underway and many of the projects are already well on their way to completion.

“We don’t want to lose any time or energy on these projects,” Vitori said. “These are all pretty big projects that have the support and approval of council.”

Explore MORE: Middletown planning two safety improvements for its airport runways

Here are a few of major issues facing council and city officials in the coming months:

Selection of a new city manager

That process cannot start until Adkins is officially terminated by council or a separation agreement is negotiated.

Explore MORE: Middletown council begins process to terminate city manager

While past councils have come to the point of terminating the city manager, all have agreed to resign as part of a termination agreement, according to city records. The selection process could take six to nine months to find a new city manager, officials said.

Selection of a new police chief

Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw has retired from the position, and four deputy chiefs completed their assessment center testing last weekend. Cohen said a new police chief should be selected sometime in December.

The Oakland redevelopment/neighborhood revitalization project

The Oakland neighborhood was targeted because of its high disinvestment rate, a high concentration of children who attend Middletown City Schools and the former middle school has been razed and cleared for redevelopment. The land is expected to be transferred from the Middletown Board of Education to the city by the end of the year pending state approval. The five-phase project for the Oakland Renaissance Incentive District is designed to revitalize the entire neighborhood designed to attract new residents, and expand the tax base.

Explore MORE: Middletown officials hope this historic neighborhood can be the next in southwest Ohio to see new life

Also, the project will also provide new infill housing development opportunities in the Oakland neighborhood around the former Carnegie Library and former middle school site. The neighborhood revitalization projects would be similar to the historic district development areas, such as Grafton Hills, South Park, Wright-Dunbar areas in Dayton, and the Over-the-Rhine district in Cincinnati. The city is holding community meetings to discuss the project, gauge neighborhood interest, and answer questions.

Sawyer’s Mill residential Tax Incremental Financing Agreement and project

At Tuesday’s council meeting, first readings were given on a series of ordinances regarding the Sawyer’s Mill project that include creating the new TIF district, compensation agreements to Franklin City Schools and the Warren County Career Center, the issuance of $2.8 million in Warren County Port Authority revenue bonds for the public infrastructure costs which will be repaid by the property owners who will pay a service payment in lieu of taxes.

Explore MORE: Franklin school board approves agreement for Middletown subdivision

The plan is to build 16 or 17 additional new homes on 25 acres on the east side of the Sawyer’s Mill development near northwest of the intersection of Dixie Highway and Manchester Road. The area is inside the borders of the city of Middletown and the Franklin school district in Warren County.

Multiple projects and issues at the Middletown Regional Airport

Sides are seeking the completion of the new airport master plan pending before the FAA. The city is also taking over as the airport’s fixed-base operator from Start Aviation, which is owned by Condrey’s employer, John P. Hart II.

There are unresolved lease issues with Start Skydiving, where Condrey is the general manager and Hart is a co-owner.

Explore MORE: Middletown could boost airport funding as it prepares to take over operations

Council approved an emergency ordinance Tuesday to purchase aviation fuel as it takes over as the FBO at the airport starting Jan. 1, 2020. In addition, the city still has a $750,000 state capital improvement grant to construct a Education Hangar at the airport.

The revocation of the Manchester Hotel/Snider Building purchase agreements

This issue has been in Butler County Common Pleas Court for about a year as developer William Grau sued the city and city officials for invoking the reverter clause in the 2014 purchase agreement to redevelop the buildings. Grau’s company purchased each building for $1 as part of a redevelopment deal.

Explore MORE: Manchester developer hopes a settlement with Middletown to move forward

The city feels that the rehabilitation project should have been completed already and opted to revoke the redevelopment agreement. Both buildings have been vacant for several years.


Middletown City Managers

1956 to 2019

Charlie Thompson, March 1956-March 1964

Dan Kothe, June 1964-September 1970

Dale Helsel, October 1970-May 1985

William Burns, October 1985-January 1988

William Klosterman, July 1988-August 1992

Ron Olsen, November 1992-November 2004

William Becker, March 2005-March 2007

Judith Gilleland, January 2008-July 2014

Doug Adkins July 2014-Nov. 5, 2019, suspended with pay pending termination proceedings

Susan H. Cohen

Age: 39

Employment: Acting Middletown city manager; Middletown administrative services director

Family: Married; one rescue dog, Oliver

Residency: West Chester; born and raised in Cincinnati

Other: Served as assistant city prosecutor, assistant law director, and general counsel for the city of Middletown; Assistant prosecutor, Clinton County Prosecutor's Office; legal intern, Hamilton County Public Defender's Office; legal intern, Association of Defense Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, United Nations, The Haugue, Netherlands; judicial extern, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Ohio, Youngstown; financial planning analyst, NCR Corporation, Dayton; adjunct instructor of criminal justice, Miami University Regional Campuses; admitted to practice of law in the state of Ohio and federal court in the Souther District of Ohio.

Education: The Ohio State University, Max M. Fisher College of Business, bachelor of science degree in business administration with a double major in finance and international business, June 2002; Case Western Reserve University School of Law, law degree, May 2007

MIDDLETOWN CITY CHARTER

ARTICLE III, SECTION 4: REMOVAL OF CITY MANAGER.

City Council shall appoint the City Manager for an indefinite term and may remove him by a majority vote of its members. At least thirty days before such removal shall become effective, City Council shall by a majority vote of its members adopt a preliminary resolution stating the reasons for his removal. The Manager may reply in writing and may request a public hearing, which shall be held not earlier than twenty days nor later than thirty days after the filing of such request. After such public hearing, if one is requested, and after full consideration, City Council by a majority vote of its members may adopt a final resolution of removal. By the preliminary resolution City Council may suspend the Manager from duty, but shall in any case cause to be paid him forthwith any unpaid balance of his salary and his salary for the next three calendar months following adoption of the preliminary resolution.

(Amended 11-8-1949; 11-7-2000)

Other major projects starting or underway in the city of Middletown

In addition to the major projects already listed, city officials will also be addressing:

  • Continuing efforts to redevelop downtown Middletown
  • Proposed purchase of land for new restaurants on the East End
  • The 25-year, $269 million Long Term Control Plan for the city's combined storm and sewer system to reduce overflows into the Great Miami River that has been mandated through a consent decree by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Completion of the city Transportation Plan component of the city's new comprehensive master plan
  • Middletown Paperboard acquisition and demolition
  • Demolition of various three residential properties and two commercial projects in 2019
  • Paving projects; renovation of the South University Boulevard bridge in 2020
  • Attaining Certified Local Government designation by the state
  • Repairs to the exterior of the Middletown City Building
  • Identify new location for city fire houses
  • Wi-fi plan for downtown
  • Completion of bike path to Franklin in 2020 using federal funds through OKI
  • Central Avenue rehabilition project in 2022
  • Lincoln School demolition or possible use as a day shelter for the homeless
  • Proposed day shelter and other homelessness issues
  • Future of the Middletown City Jail

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