Good morning everyone!   There are several things going on around town that I’ll pass along….

Towne Mall announced another new tenant yesterday. Gabe’s is a discount fashion, home décor and housewares retailer offering brand name goods at up to 70 percent off department and specialty store prices. Their new Middletown location is expected to open in early October. A complete renovation of Gabe’s 57,347-square-foot space is currently under way-a new façade, roof, walls, floors and HVAC are being installed, featuring the retailer’s recognizable brand and image. Together with the Burlington, which opened this past March, the signing of this lease means that 100 percent of the space previously occupied by Dillard’s is now back in profitable operation.  Info for Gabe’s can be found at http://www.mygabes.com/.    We believe there will be several smaller new store announcements between now and the end of 2015.   Slowly the Mall is coming back together.  Now if we could just get the parking lot and paving around the Mall in better condition….  One small step forward at a time is progress, I suppose.

Police Chief Muterspaw and I had a great conversation with Middletown Latino pastors last night.  For me, it offered a chance to meet new people and to learn about a new culture that I frankly had little previous exposure to.  For them, it was a nice chance to ask questions and to develop understanding of how the City and the Division of Police work.  We intend to continue those conversations and to develop a deeper relationship with our Latino community.

We are evolving into a much more diverse community.  We have the Latino population, a Chinese student population at MUM, a Korean and Russian population, and I heard yesterday we had to bring in a Turkish interpreter for a civil court case.  Integrating these new cultures into our city will be an interesting opportunity for City staff and public safety forces.

I hope everyone enjoyed the July 4th fireworks at Smith Park and the Ohio Balloon Challenge and Wounded Warrior Weekend.  They were both first class events.  The city had some hesitation in planning for the fireworks.   We didn’t know whether 500 or 15,000 people would show up.  That all works into the planning for traffic, portable toilets, police presence, etc.   Considering the very large crowd, I think it went about as well as possible.  City staff, sponsors and Broad Street Bash staff all met last week and discussed the event.  Our general feeling was that we needed more vendors, more things for the kids to do, events and music that would draw more teenagers and minority participation, a more spread-out layout of the event in the park, and better planning for traffic as the event ends.  I’m happy to report that the group is already in the planning stages for making next year’s event bigger, better, and easier to attend.

One of the challenges the City faces in property code enforcement is providing lower income families the ability to bring their property back into property code compliance.  Often the deferred maintenance repairs needed are beyond the homeowner’s budget.  One of the ways we have worked on this problem without using your tax dollars is to partner with organizations like People Working Cooperatively and Group Work Camps.   Supports to Encourage Low Income Families (SELF), a Butler County Non-Profit Agency, has been working with Group Work Camps for the past 6 years.  Group Work Camps is a missionary group out of Colorado that brings high school age kids into lower income neighborhoods under adult supervision to make housing and accessibility repairs to lower income housing.  They provide labor and all needed materials for repairs.  Group Work Camps is in the City this week, making repairs to about 30 homes.   They are wearing white t-shirts that say “Reframe” on the front.  If you see a group of them around town, make sure you say hi and welcome them to Middletown.

Quality of life continues to be one of my priorities.  Although the weather has not cooperated this summer, we are continuing the movies in the park:

July 17    Oakland Park     “Up”

July 24     Governor’s Square – “the Lion King”   and Douglass Park – “Monsters, Inc.”

July 31     Barnitz Park – “Wreck it Ralph”

August 7     Douglass Park – “Paddington” and Lefferson Park – “How to Train Your Dragon”

August 21     Douglass Park – “Aladdin”

We hope to bring you much more between now and the end of the year.  We are working on bringing the Color Run to Middletown this fall (http://thecolorrun.com/), and are exploring future plans for fishing tournaments at Smith Park, 3 on 3 basketball tournaments, an Obstacle Course-(Ex: Tough Mudder), BBQ in the Park, Rotating Bins of recreational equipment that can travel to parks in the city on a rotational basis, and a Baker Bowl City-Wide Skate Competition.   We’ll bring as many of these events to the city as possible with the money and staff available.   Your city staff is committed to making Middletown a great place to work, play and live.

Have a great week everyone!

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