A demonstration project for a new state program funded nearly $400,000 in capital improvements for the Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center is nearly completed. The project included new roofing, new temperature controls and HVAC systems and new LED lights for the building and in the parking lot. FILE PHOTO Middletown City Council Tuesday heard the first reading of several ordinances for an improvement project at the Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center, 800 Lafayette Ave. Council is expected to approve the ordinances as emergency measures at its June 4 meeting. ED RICHTER/STAFF The Warren County Port Authority approved an agreement that would issue $500,000 in bonds for the city of Middletown which will be used for major upgrades and improvements at the Robert “Sonny” Hill Community Center, 800 Lafayette Ave. Middletown City Council will have to approve the agreement before the deal can be closed. City officials said the bonds will be repaid through Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. The city is also using this as a demonstration project to show prospective and existing businesses and industries how the PACE process works. ED RICHTER/STAFF

New roof, lighting project nearly complete at Middletown community center

The project at the Robert “Sonny” Hill Jr. Community Center at 800 Lafayette Ave. is Middletown’s and the Warren County Port Authority’s first time using the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

The port authority issued up to $500,000 in Ohio Communities Accelerator Fund bonds for the city to make improvements at the city-owned facility that is operated by the Community Building Institute and provides community programming. In the operating contract, the city is responsible for any maintenance to the building of more than $2,500. However, concerns have been raised about problems with the building’s roofing and lighting.

MORE: Badly needed community center upgrades are closer in Middletown

“The projects and roof are completed except for the flashing,” said Karin Maney, executive director of the Community Building Institute. “The building is doing pretty well and we’re really excited about it.”

Maney said that “having no roof leaks is a huge win for us.”

She said the building, which is more than 70 years old, “feels like it’s on its way to being in good shape.”

Maney said the new LED lighting and new thermostats as well as new HVAC systems will also help CBI be more energy efficient.

The facility serves more than 350 families, providing after-school and recreation programs, open gyms, hot meals for children in the evening, parenting resources, GED and ESL program assistance and job assistance.

PACE is an assessment program for infrastructure, capital improvements and repairs to repay the bonds.

Officials have described the PACE program as being similar to city sidewalk repair programs in which property owners can pay to repair their sidewalks before a set deadline or the city will make the repairs and assess the property owner, usually over five years through their property taxes. The city is only financing what is needed for the project.

Middletown approved the PACE program and the city’s Energy Special Improvement District in December 2017 to take advantage of these funding mechanisms to help spur development. As a demonstration project for city’s Economic Development Department to show prospects and existing businesses how the PACE process works. Middletown City Council approved the project was approved last June.

MORE: Middletown closer to badly needed upgrades on community center

Officials estimated the five planned upgrades would cost about $390,000. That cost includes about $298,000 for construction and abut $90,000 in financing costs. The city would have 10 years, starting in 2020, to repay the assessments through the PACE program.

  • Other than roof flashing, the competed projects:
  • Converting remaining interior and exterior lighting to LED lighting and fixtures.
  • Updating HVAC controls that include low-voltage programmable thermostats to allow night and weekend setback temperatures for the four furnace/AC units and a new thermostat to control electric resistance baseboard heating.
  • Installing eight new LED parking lot lights with new poles.
  • Correcting a drainage problem from the roof to facilitate storm flow away from the entry roof to landscaping or storm drain.
  • Repairs to the roofing and gutters.

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