Renovations at Middletown city building to address safety issues, more

“Donham Plaza is more than 40 years old and has age related and safety problems,” City Manager Doug Adkins said. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
“Donham Plaza is more than 40 years old and has age related and safety problems,” City Manager Doug Adkins said. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Over the next several years, the Middletown City Building will be undergoing an exterior makeover.

“Donham Plaza is more than 40 years old and has age related and safety problems,” City Manager Doug Adkins said. “We’ve talked about this for several years.”

Issues at the city building, according to officials, include:

  • Deteriorating walkway pavers that have become trip hazards
  • Water runoff in the front of the building that leaks into the Middletown police headquarters, which is directly below the north promenade driveway.
  • Post-9/11 safety concerns
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The project will begin in 2019 when the north promenade driveway will be closed to vehicular traffic, according to Adkins. The project will also include improvements to the building’s south plaza and the south promenade.

Cost for renovations to the building’s south plaza are estimated at between $1.69 million to $2.01 million. The projects planned for the north portion of the building will cost between $427,500 and $495,900, according to Adkins.

The project will take five to seven years to complete depending on city finances.

The city’s insurance carrier has been asking city leaders for about a decade to replace pavers at the building that houses offices of city government and the city’s school district. The loose pavers, according to the insurance carrier, pose a safety hazard.

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Adkins said in the 2019 city budget, funds will be allocated to begin the exterior renovations.

He said in addition to closing the north drive, the updates will include:

  • Stamped concrete in place of pavers
  • Fixing the drainage issues
  • New and updated landscaping around the building and throughout Donham Plaza

“This was green design with all green materials,” he said.

The city building at 1 Donham Plaza opened in 1976 and houses the city’s administrative offices, The Middletown Municipal Court, police headquarters and jail, and the Middletown City School District’s administrative offices.

Recent national events, including last year’s shooting of a judge as he walked into a courthouse in Ohio, prompted “robust discussions” between Middletown police and the Municipal Court, about building security, Adkins previously told this news outlet.

“We’re concerned that it’s an ongoing security risk … if someone wanted to show up in Oklahoma (City)-style bombing and pull their van up there and get out and blow the building up, it would be easy to do,” Adkins said in 2017.

“You could walk in and shoot people and walk right back out get in the car and be gone. It’s the type of thing that we hope never happens … But we’re always trying to balance that between safety and public access,” he said.

City officials have locked off a number of offices and have started using access cards to enter areas previously open and accessible to the public.

Adkins said police recommended security upgrades about four years ago, such as improving locks and building access doors, which were handled internally. In addition, police have increased security at the city building, including adding more cameras inside the building and in the parking lots.