What they’re saying: Middletown residents react to proposed $1.3 billion Hollywoodland development

Middletown City Council didn't have the necessary three votes to decide the future of the proposed $1.3 billion entertainment district along the Great Miami River. Council has tabled the legislation until members hear from the Ohio Ethics Commission. SUBMITTED DRAWING
Caption
Middletown City Council didn't have the necessary three votes to decide the future of the proposed $1.3 billion entertainment district along the Great Miami River. Council has tabled the legislation until members hear from the Ohio Ethics Commission. SUBMITTED DRAWING

Most residents said they’re against large entertainment, destination project

Twenty-two Middletown residents spoke during Thursday night’s special City Council meeting and a large majority said they’re against the proposed $1.3 billion Hollywoodland, an entertainment and destination project planned near the Great Miami River and historic downtown.

This was the third meeting where citizens addressed Hollywoodland.

ExploreMiddletown Council doesn’t have votes to decide future of $1.3B Hollywoodland

Here are some of their comments:

Steve Hightower, president of Hightower Petroleum: He called Hollywoodland “an opportunity to do something great” and the city “can not be afraid of progress.” Then he added: “A city without vision will perish. We have been dying for a long time in this city.”

Pastor Lamar Ferrell, Berachah Church: He told council members they have “a very difficult job” and asked them to “pause” and make a decision they “can live with.”

Marty Kohler, former city planner: He wanted to know why a project of this magnitude appears to be rushed and that causes citizens to “lose faith and trust in local government.”

Josh Laubach, owner of Rolling Mill Brewing Co. near where Hollywoodland is planned: He questioned why the developers from Main Street Community Capital LLC, weren’t investing in the city. He said that shows they “care very little about this town.”

Joseph Cox: He told the five council members their vote will “control the city’s destiny” and residents are “clamoring against this.”

Renae Fossum: She encouraged council to reject the proposal. “It’s just plain wrong.”

Brian Duba: The longtime attorney said he has read the “massive contract” and some of the language doesn’t make sense. “It doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said. He said the city could spend $7.5 million in ARPA funds and get nothing in return.

James Stiver: He said growing up in Middletown as a young boy he dreamed of becoming a teacher and joining the circus. He taught in the Middletown district for 35 years, he said. “Right now as I speak, I have accomplished both.”

About the Author