Addressing Monroe’s growing pains will be top issue in 2020

Managing growth in one of Butler County’s fastest-growing cities will be a major focus for Monroe’s leadership.

Many believe Monroe’s proximity to the growing Cincinnati and Dayton metropolitan areas, good schools, good public safety and services and its status as a logistics hub set it up for more growth.

City officials will have to find that sweet spot of enlarging the city while retaining the small-town feel and ambiance that Monroe is known for in the region.

“It’s continuing process that we’re re-evaluating constantly,” said City Manager Bill Brock.

Other 2020 issues include a new police station, some infrastructure improvements, assessing the future development of the I-75/Ohio 63 interchange, continued development of parks planned at Monroe Bicentennial Commons and Baker parks, evaluating a new public works facility, and completion of a new comprehensive master plan that will have a land use plan that residents and developers can live with.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest issues Monroe will face in 2020:

New police station

Work is continuing to transform the former IGA grocery store at 601 S. Main St. into a new police station.

The city also owns the adjacent strip center and continues to lease space for commercial businesses. Construction is set to begin in early 2020 with the police operating out of the 24,000 square-foot building by early 2021.

City officials said the cost to renovate the building for the police department will be about $6 million, which will be paid through revenues from the income tax levy that was approved by voters in 2017. A new gas station/convenience store is also expected to begin construction next door to the new police station and open this year

New comprehensive master plan

A new comprehensive master plan is expected to be completed this year that includes input from community members as well as the Monroe Board of Education.

“We still have land to grow and we’ll need to evaluate future commercial, industrial and residential growth,” Brock said. “We’re working with the school district to make sure their voice is heard. Good schools makes a good city.”

City officials commissioned work on developing a plan in 2019. Last year, the city completed development of its future housing plan and policy.

“We’re not determining where the growth should go,” Brock said. “We want to take a look at what’s possible as we grow from 15,000 to 20,000 in population and see if that is appropriate.”

In the past few years, some council members have raised concerns about companies seeking tax incentives to build more warehouse and distribution facilities. Finding that balance between new warehouse/distribution facilities and companies with high-tech jobs and salaries will continue to be an issue for the city. Officials also want more higher-end housing.

New commercial and industrial facilities progressing

The new Amazon e-commerce distribution facility opened in 2018. Bed, Bath and Beyond has completed construction of its new e-commerce distribution facility off Salzman Road but has not opened yet, and Kroger is building a $55 million robotic distribution center off of Ohio 63. Finding qualified candidates from those new positions will also be a focus this year.

Future development of the I-75/Ohio 63 interchange

With the Cincinnati Premium Outlet Mall and Miami Valley Gaming racino as drivers, more development is being drawn to the I-75/Ohio 63 area.

Tru by Hilton Hotels held a groundbreaking just north of the corner of Ohio 63 and Senate Drive in September 2019 for a four-story hotel. The 47,070-square-foot hotel will have 94 guest rooms, an indoor, heated swimming pool and a fitness center.

About a month later, the nearby Miami Valley Gaming racino announced a $100 million expansion that will include a 194-room hotel, restaurant, garage and more gaming machines. This is in addition to new shops and restaurants opening in that area.

Officials could rezone property south of the outlet mall for future commercial and industrial development.

New park development and infrastructure

Work on redeveloping the former Americana amusement park into Monroe Bicentennial Commons Park has met obstacles to overcome.

The city has solicited bids on portions of the projects but has had to reject them because they exceeded the engineer’s estimates. City officials hope to move forward on that park as well as the dog park planned for Baker Park in 2020.

A new lane on Ohio 63 between American Way and Lawton Avenue is planned for 2020, as is a new public works facility.

About the Author