How we look matters. Part of getting new businesses and families to come to Middletown is to present a clean, neat appearance throughout the city when they arrive. I’ll say it again because it’s that important… How we look matters.
The I-75 interchange is our gateway into the City. If we want to develop the East End, it starts with a pleasing, tidy appearance as you come off the highway. We started that process with the ODOT improvements last year. I’m not satisfied with the end results, however, and I’ve asked Public Works to look at ways to further enhance the appearance at the interchange. If we intend to send the message that things are changing in Middletown, one of the best ways is to demonstrate those changes visually, not just to talk about them. I hope to have our interchange looking sharp by the end of 2016.
While attending a city manager conference last year, one city had what I would call a “Transform Middletown” crew that worked each summer on appearance details in the city. The concept was pretty straight forward. You assemble a seasonal crew with a public works leader. Their job is to clean and tidy Middletown. If it is bent, straighten it. If it is rusted, replace it. If it is faded, replace it. If it has peeling paint, scrape it and paint it. If it has weeds, pull them. If it needs mulch, mulch it. If it is no longer necessary, remove it. If it has trash, pick it up. Pay attention to details. I am working with Public Works to try this concept this summer. In theory, once some of these items are cleaned up along the major roads in town, the crew would move into the parks and then eventually into the neighborhoods. If it works well this year, we’ll continue the process and keep cleaning the city and paying attention to the details that would make our city more attractive every day.
I’ve asked Chief Muterspaw to look at bringing back the prisoner clean up crews that we used to use to clean trash in the parks. We are in the planning stages of how often we might be able to utilize those resources, but I would like to see some use of them this summer if possible.
In 2015 Code Enforcement staff completed 687 Commercial Code Enforcement Inspections, resolving 393 of them by year end. They completed 1,634 Residential Code Enforcement Inspections, resolving 1,274 by year end. They completed 4,112 Nuisance Inspections, resolving 3,763 of them by year end. Code enforcement staff will out this spring working to make the city a cleaner, nicer place to live. I added an additional $150,000 to the 2016 for abatement of nuisances. We work with homeowners and businesses across the city to voluntarily take care of their property violations. We will continue that practice, but for those who will not make needed repairs, we will start abating the nuisance for you in 2016. If we are going to clean up the entire city, then at some point, we actually have to clean up, with or without the property owner’s assistance. If we are going to have attractive neighborhoods and improve property values, every house on your street and every business is going to have to do their part. That includes your government. We have to do a better job of keeping our buildings in compliance as well. We’ll all struggle through this one together. The end result is worth the struggle.
Code enforcement and attention to detail will also involve removing junk motor vehicles from the city. As we move through neighborhoods and strive to clean up the city, automobiles that are either inoperable or not properly registered will be removed if the owner does not take care of the issues. The MPD task forces will not only be cracking down on drug activity in the city this spring, but they will also be taking action on any illegal activity in the area where they are currently working. If you receive a warning sticker on your car and you fail to take action, it will be towed after the statutory period to allow you to correct the problem.
Finally, how we look is about details, all the way down to how city vehicles look on the road. We are looking to update over time our vehicle appearance. If we show you that your government can change, hopefully others will start to take pride in their city and join us for the cause. Below is our first update to a Public Works vehicle. You should see it out in the city very soon, and we will be updating vehicles as we purchase new and do repair work on the older vehicles.
We’re going to be working hard to clean and tidy up the city this year. Let us know how we’re doing and feel free to point out areas that need attention. It may take us a while to get everywhere, but extra sets of eyes are a great help to find remaining problems. We welcome your help.
Have a great day!