6 big issues facing Middletown as new city leadership prepares to take over

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

New Butler Tech aviation program for high school students opens at Middletown Regional Airport.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

In the coming months, Middletown’s city leadership will include a new mayor, new city manager and new council member.

The Journal-News studied those changes for a report that published last weekend in the newspaper and on our website and app.

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

The new leadership faces multiple big projects and issues. Here is a sampling:

Selection of a new city manager

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

ExploreMORE: 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 acting city manager Susan Cohen will be responsible for making that selection as all four deputy chiefs completed their assessment center testing recently. She 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.

ExploreMORE: 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.

ExploreMORE: 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

These include 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 mayor-elect Nicole 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.

ExploreMORE: 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.

ExploreMORE: 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.

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