Middletown, agency lack money so far for rehab house at fire station

I hate it that I have to spend time and energy responding to non-stories in the Journal News, but sometimes it’s important to set the record straight.

The title of this blog post is the latest in non-stories on the potential repurposing of the Tytus Avenue fire station into a post-rehab recovery center.  The link to the story is below:

http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/local/middletown-agency-lack-money-so-far-for-rehab-hous/nrf6x/

Under the picture of the fire station is the caption:
“Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins wants to give Community Behavioral Health a five-year lease, to convert the former Tytus Avenue fire house at 2600 Tytus Ave., into a halfway house for heroin addicts, but neighbors object.”
Not accurate. I specifically told the reporter that the lease he obtained from a public records request was not intended to set any terms. This is part of the email that I sent to the reporter yesterday:

Attached is the first draft of the lease.  Keep in mind that since the project is not moving at this point, neither the city nor our partners have reviewed or made comments on the lease.  It hasn’t been evaluated by either side since its drafting by the Law Dept.  The Law Dept had the concept only when creating a draft.  Taking any facts from the lease draft would give you only the Law Dept’s limited understanding of the concept as originally presented.  It was designed to be a starting place listing the types of items needed to be worked out in future negotiations, not an actual working document with terms. [Emphasis added]

Second, a month ago I posted a blog entry titled Tytus Avenue Fire Station.  At that point, we were moving the project forward and intended to take the repurposing of the Fire Station to Planning Commission for rezoning.  That process would have included written notices to nearby residents and a public hearing on the matter. No articles were published at that time.  Below is part of that blog post:

“I will be taking this issue to the June 8 Planning Commission meeting seeking a Use Adjustment to convert the fire station to transitional housing.  We will mail the usual notices out to nearby residents as required by law.  If you have strong feelings about this issue, there will be a public hearing at the June 8 meeting to voice your concerns.”

A week ago, I published the blog post Tytus  Avenue  Fire  Station  Update, in which I specifically state that the project does not have funding and cannot move forward at this time.

So now that nothing is happening with the station and the project is unfunded and on hold,  the reporter runs around the neighborhood getting responses from citizens in the area for a project that we have specifically stated is not moving forward.  That seems bizarre to me, and as your City Manager, it is aggravating.  I’m happy to have that public discussion when and if we move forward, but to stir up the neighborhood when I have specifically stated that the project is NOT moving forward is counterproductive.

Third, the Journal News chose to pick and choose its comments for the story.  One example from a resident:

“McCoy called it “one of those things where they’re just going, making their own decision, without taking it by and seeing what the public (thinks).”

“It’s never asked: ‘Does the public agree? Can we take a vote? Can we come and voice our opinions?’” McCoy said. “It’s a public property. It should be up to the public to decide and vote on where they want to go with it … That would make it much more transparent.”

The reporter used my blog post that the project was on hold to create this story but didn’t choose to publish the explanation I put in another blog post laying out the procedure to inform the public and receive input.  Nor did they tell the responding residents that the project was on hold or inform them that a public hearing would be held if the project went forward.

As I’ve stated before, these are hard issues all by themselves.  No one has solved heroin yet and we are all working together to find ways to improve our city.   Stories like this make very difficult issues harder than they need to be.  That’s unfortunate.

5 thoughts on “Middletown, agency lack money so far for rehab house at fire station

  1. I have found that the Journal has a mind set and doesn’t really want to report the news accurately. They like to report a piece of the news and often times, slant it is cause a controversy. That is what sells papers, right?

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  2. How about turning it back into a fire station. At least 6 or 8 times every 24 hours there is a call to send ems screaming down tytus ave. It seems to me that far less expense and danger wod be posed on the citizens of middletown when they would have a shorter trip to make.

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    • Our existing fire stations are old, nearing the end of the their useful life and they are not well positioned in relation to the growth of the city in the past three decades. I have instructed the Division of Fire to update an earlier study that will contemplate expansion on the East End and then lay out our fire stations in a way that maximizes service to the public and reduces run time to calls. That analysis will be completed this year and then we will know where fire stations should be for quickest response city-wide. Over the next couple years, I will propose to City Council that we purchase land as close to the ideal locations as possible and start the process of realigning where our fire houses are. Once property is obtained, I’m guessing in the 3-5 year range, we can look at building new fire houses at the best locations for service. It’s a multi-year process and the old existing Tytus Avenue fire station does not represent the future, it represents the past. At the current time, there are no plans to reactivate that location as a Fire House again.

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