City Master Plan Update

Nearly 15 years have passed since Middletown adopted its last Master Plan and a lot has changed for the City since 2005. The City achieved many of the objectives and strategies described in the 2005 Plan, and now it’s time to re-evaluate the future direction.

A Master Plan is intended to be a blueprint that will guide the development of the City and will address a number of key topics including housing, development, and revitalization. The updated Master Plan will be a graphically-rich, streamlined document that will used for marketing purposes, grant writing, as well as a tool for directing future development.

Over the last two years, the City has worked with community groups such as Middletown Moving Forward and Downtown Middletown, Inc. to host visioning meetings to determine the needs and wants of residents and stakeholders for the City’s future. The City adopted the final community visioning document in 2017 for inclusion in the new overall Master Plan.

The City adopted its new zoning code this month, which will again provide best practices currently being utilized in Ohio for city-wide development.

In 2017, the City adopted the Downtown Middletown Strategic Plan and completed a city-wide Housing Study that determined the strengths and weaknesses in Middletown’s housing stock.

In 2018, the City will be completing a new Airport Master Plan, which will lay out future development of the 50+ acres available on the airport property.

2018 will start our review of the City park system and the future return of Recreation to the city.

All of these components will serve as the framework and the majority of the focus of the work will be on overall city land use and special planning areas.

As each of the above areas are defined, one of the last pieces will be a transportation study to determine the best way to move people as pedestrians, bicyclers, and by automobile and to determine the best uses for public transit given the other priorities in the plan.

The City chose the consulting firm McBride Dale Clarion to lead the work for the Master Plan update. They were chosen based on their previous performance on work completed for the City. McBride Dale Clarion is a consulting firm based out of Cincinnati, Ohio that focuses on comprehensive and land use planning, zoning codes and development services.

McBride Dale Clarion’s Master Plan update phases:

  1. Project Understanding and Initiation
  2. Analysis and Assessment
  3. Land Use Framework
  4. Plan Development
  5. Plan Review and Adoption

As a part of the planning process, the City of Middletown has formed a twelve member volunteer Advisory Committee for the Master Plan. The overall role of the members of the Advisory Committee will be to assist with the planning process by working with city staff and consultants by being the sound board and review body for the Master Plan. Members that were nominated to serve on the committee have a wide range of expertise, and most importantly, have pride in Middletown.

Advisory Committee members include representatives from:

  • City Council
  • Planning Commission
  • Middletown City Schools
  • Cincinnati State
  • Miami University
  • AK Steel
  • Atrium Medical
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Real Estate
  • Other Business Stakeholders and Expertise

The Master Plan Advisory Committee will meet monthly starting in late February and will work with City staff and consultants over the next 10 months. The goal is to adopt the Master Plan in December 2018.

If you have any questions regarding the Middletown Master Plan Update process, please contact Ashley Combs, City Planner, at 513-425-7922 or ashleyc@cityofmiddletown.org.

Middletown Development Code

 

On February 6, 2018 the City Council had a public hearing and a first reading on the newly drafted Middletown Development Code (formerly known as the Planning and Zoning Ordinance). City Council passed the new code at the February 20th City Council meeting, and the new code will take effect March 1, 2018.

Why are we adopting a new development code?

The City initiated the Planning and Zoning ordinance update in 2015 because our current zoning code is outdated to current practices and many provisions are almost unenforceable under Ohio law as it stands today.

Most of the City’s current zoning code was adopted in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The nature of zoning law and property rights under Ohio law has changed a lot over the past 50 years, and many of our old code sections simply were too vague or inconsistent with current Ohio law to be enforceable.

What process was used to develop the new Middletown Development Code?

For the past three years the Planning and Zoning Department worked closely with our zoning code consultant, Compass Pointe Planning, on the update of the Planning and Zoning Ordinance. Planning staff also worked with Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, outside legal counsel and other city departments, and sought feedback from community groups such as Downtown Middletown Inc. and Middletown Moving Forward. Staff encouraged citizen input through the development code update website and hosted a public open house that showcased the new ordinance compared to the current ordinance and answered questions.

What can be expected with the new Middletown Development Code?

A fully modern development code, consistent with current Ohio law and best practices throughout the State of Ohio. Those who rely on the code for making business decisions should notice:

    1. Streamlined regulations to make it easier to invest and to do business in Middletown.
    2. That the Code addresses modern uses and zoning issues.
    3. That the new Code makes it easier to understand and use the zoning regulations and processes, with clear descriptions of what is and is not permitted.
    4. That the new Code eliminates inconsistencies and provide for clearer definitions.
    5. That the new Code allows for strict enforcement of the Development Code .

The Middletown Development Code will become effective and enforced starting March 1, 2018. One more piece of the new City Master Plan is now complete and ready for action.

If you have any questions regarding the Middletown Development Code, please contact Ashley Combs, City Planner, at 513-425-7922 or ashleyc@cityofmiddletown.org.

EPA Sewer Agreement Information

Over the weekend, an inaccurate story came out regarding the Long Term Control Plan we agreed upon with the EPA. The news station who posted the article has since updated the story with an Editor’s Note, but we know there are questions and want to clarify as much as possible. 

This is all part of the Long Term Control Plan that we’ve been talking about as a city and with the EPA for over ten years. The lawsuit discussed in the story is the completion of the process, not the beginning.  The Consent Decree in the lawsuit represents the completed deal.

Every city in Ohio that was built in the same time frame as Middletown is going through this process and also has had to address these issues. That was the standard construction of sewers at the time.  It was the best practice in place at the time, over 100 years ago.  If you look at my earlier blog posts, you can see the large number of cities that have been or are going through this exact same process.  

The EPA didn’t file the suit until now because we were working together to resolve the situation.  Every Ohio city that has already executed their consent decree but hasn’t fully completed their obligations is still likely in violation in some manner with EPA regulations.

We issued a press release in December to further clarify the actions being taken: 

For Immediate Release

Agreement to Clean Water Act Proposed Consent Decree by Middletown, Ohio

Middletown, OH (December 21, 2017) — The City of Middletown, Ohio has agreed to the terms of a proposed consent decree with the United States and the State of Ohio to resolve threatened U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA enforcement claims under the Clean Water Act due primarily to combined sewer overflows (CSO’s). The proposed consent decree includes three major work components: 1.) Implementation of a Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP) to reduce CSO’s into the Great Miami River; 2.) Commitment to planned sewer system rehabilitation; and 3.) Commitment to planned waste water treatment plant (WWTP) rehabilitation. All of these components are to be implemented over 25 years (by 2043). The City’s agreement allows the City to avoid protracted, costly and disruptive federal court litigation, the results of which would be uncertain.

“This mutual agreement allows the City to prioritize critical infrastructure improvements to the sewer system and treatment plant that were already planned while improving water quality in the Great Miami River,” said City Manager Doug Adkins. “These improvements align with the City’s overall revitalization efforts to make Middletown a great place to live, work, and grow, transitioning from our bright past to our brighter future.”

Proposed Consent Decree Agreement Basics

  1. Long-Term Control Plan
  2. Construction of two large storage tanks and associated pump stations
  3. Storm Water Redirection Project including new storm sewer and pump station
  4. Green Infrastructure Project to divert storm water flow tributary to the Combined Sewer System into a regional detention basin
  5. Estimated Cost $112 million
  6. Sewer System Rehabilitation
  7. Rehabilitation of 40 miles of sewer pipewhich is at or near the end of its useful life
  8. Estimated Cost $74 million
  9. WWTP Rehabilitation
  10. Critical rehabilitation and upgrades to major treatment plant components which are necessary for the plant to remain viable over the next 25 years
  11. Estimated Cost $79 million

In addition, the City has agreed to complete a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to significantly reduce the civil penalty for the alleged violations. The SEP includes capping of sediments in a designated section of the Hydraulic Canal adjacent to the STM/Wrenn Site. The project allows the City to obtain a “Covenant Not to Sue” from the Ohio EPA for the site under the Voluntary Action Program, which in turn will allow for future redevelopment of the site. The civil penalty has been reduced to $55,000 in consideration of this project.

“This project is a “win-win” for the City and Ohio EPA,” said Adkins. “It will create a clean, shovel-ready building site for future development consistent with the Downtown Master Plan.”

The proposed consent decree has now been filed in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The filling will initiate a 30-day comment period. Should no significant comments be received objecting to the agreement, the US Department of Justice is expected to file a motion asking the court to enter the proposed consent decree as final and effective.

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This plan helps to fix a century-old problem. It is a solution that not only solves the EPA combined sewer issue, but also upgrades our sewer plants and associated piping to maintain viability of our water and sewer infrastructure into the future. It also improves quality of the water in the river and addresses an old industrial brownfield site, making it available for redevelopment. 

2017 Year End Departmental Reports

The fourth quarter departmental reports are in. I’ll get them posted to the city web page in the next few days. In the mean time, it’s always interesting to see how much work gets done throughout the city.  Some of it is visible… some behind the scenes.

For the fourth quarter of 2017, from October through December:

Human Resources processed 80 employee evaluations, welcomed 12 new employees, processed the departure of 15 employees, and posted 4 job announcements.

The Health Department conducted inspections on 162 food service operations, investigated 35 animal bites, completed 12 indigent cremations, inspected 6 tattoo establishments, issued 850 birth certificates and issued 779 death certificates.

Code enforcement for 2017 completed 974 commercial inspections, resolving 386 violations; completed 1200 residential inspections, resolving 1,848 violations; and completed 6,417 nuisance inspections, resolving 4,334 violations.

The Law Department for the fourth quarter reviewed 71 contracts and drafted 49 pieces of legislation for City Council. The Prosecutor’s Office at the end of 2017 had 12,970 open cases including 1,099 felonies, 4,851 misdemeanors, 388 drunk driving cases, and 6,6,32 traffic cases outstanding.

 

Middletown Division of Police has been very active in drug enforcement over the past quarter. Part one crimes (the most serious crimes), dropped from 3,573 in 2016 to 3,217 in 2017. We had 162 less domestic violence incidents in 2017 than the previous year.  Felony drug arrest went from 396 in 2016 to 609 in 2017. Our K-9’s continue to pull drugs off the streets every day. We continued to see leveling off of overdoses as 2017 came to a close.

In the fourth quarter, the Middletown Division of Fire ran 2,393 EMS calls for service compared to 2,342 for the fourth quarter last year. We saw an uptick in calls for fire response, with 800 calls for service this year vs. 557 calls for service in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Our social media presence continues to grow. Through the end of December, the City Instagram account had 965 followers, the City’s Twitter account was followed by 1,153 people, and for the fourth quarter, the City’s Facebook page was accessed 766,170 times.

Building Inspection for the 4th quarter issued permits for 7 new single family homes valued at $1.96 million and 4 new commercial buildings totaling $4.66 million in construction value.

Public Works in the third quarter made repairs to 152 traffic signals, performed 722 lane miles of street sweeping, made repairs to 115 street signs, treated 1,394 million gallons of wastewater and produced 764 million gallons of potable water (Water Treatment Plant).  December had 6 snow events requiring 571 overtime hours for snow plowing of streets.

I am proud of all our City employees that are working hard to move this community forward. We are making progress, and that will only continue in 2018.

The full reports should be online by the end of the week!

Opiate Update

I first started talking about opiate addiction in early 2015. Here we are, three years later and I’m still talking about it.

2017 presented us with the most challenging year to date. In 2015, we were able to identify $1.5 million in city expenses directly tied to responding to the opiate crisis through law enforcement, EMS runs, Health Department costs, and municipal court expenses.

Staff is gathering the numbers for 2017, but with double the overdoses in 2017, I have to assume that the city expense responding to opiate addiction in Middletown approaches $2 million for 2017. That’s a staggering amount of resources that could have been used for additional paving or other infrastructure and quality of life options.

So what has changed since 2015? A lot. We know a lot more about opiate addiction than we did three years ago. The City will partner with Atrium Medical Center to hold our 12th Heroin Summit at the end of January. Those summits have brought the community together to produce plans that included education for the public on opiates, a needle exchange to slow the spread of HIV and Hepatitis in addicts, and a Heroin Response Team (HRT) that follows up with addicts that are treated by EMS. The HRT has referred over 250 addicts to treatment over the past year and a half. We are making a difference.

We’ve changed tactics, and of course, the addicts and dealers change to get around our tactics. During 2017, MPD partnered with the Butler County BURN Division to cooperate on drug information and arrests county-wide. We’ve formed a similar partnership with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Three years ago, we had 1 drug dog. This year, we have 5. Those K-9’s are pulling drugs off the street daily. In 2017, we transferred 4 additional detectives to the Narcotics Division to better attack the supply and demand for drugs in the city. 2017 saw a 40% increase in drug related arrests by MPD over 2016.

MPD deals with the people involved in the drug trade. Starting in 2018, we have new software that tracks WHERE people are buying, selling and using illegal drugs. We have a Police Major whose full time job moving forward is to attack the places where this type of activity is taking place.

Our EMS crews have become very efficient in saving lives. While overdoses doubled from 2016 to 2017, the number of deaths remained the same. In other words, we responded to 400 more overdoses in 2017 and overdose deaths for 2016 and 2017 remained at 72 people per year. Hats off to a tired and VERY efficient EMS staff.

The problem, however, continues to outrun the local resources. Staff continues to evolve and adapt. We’ve been directly involved in panel discussions at the state and national level on this topic. We monitor where new funding sources and new programs are available to combat this epidemic.

Despite the high number of overdoses, I can’t imagine where we would be without the hard work in law enforcement, EMS staff, Health Department, Middletown Municipal Court and with our health care providers in the community. Unchecked, the damage would have been even worse.

We’ll continue to evolve and adapt and work to push this scourge back out of our community. We’ll keep you up to date as we do that.

 

2018 Preview

So what can you expect from your city government in 2018?

During the first three years as your City Manager, I’ve attempted to start stabilizing our core services including Public Safety, Economic Development, and Water and Sewer Upgrades. We’ve added Police Officers, Firefighters and Economic Development staff to better execute in those departments on a daily basis.

As we move into 2018, the focus will broaden. The City will complete its first Master Plan since 2005. We have already completed Community Visioning, a new Downtown Master Plan, completely rewritten our Zoning Code and completed a housing study identifying opportunities and threats to our housing stock. In 2018, we’ll combine those individual parts and complete a new strategic Plan for the municipal Airport, update our Fire Department with a new study on staffing and fire station locations to best serve the public, identify housing policies that will improve our housing stock, and finally start a full review of how we move people in this city through pedestrian walking, bicycle, automobile and public transit services.

All of this will be framed with two underlying themes. First, we want to incorporate our community visioning into each piece. We know what we can do… how did you as a community want us to handle each piece of city services into the future? Second, we’ve always been good at building stuff, but we haven’t always done a great job of maintaining the nice things we add to the city.  As we talk about adding things like Recreation back to the budget, my goal is to do it responsibly and in a way that we believe is sustainable into the future.  If we can’t maintain it, then we can’t afford it yet.

There are two immediate changes coming in 2018 that we believe we can afford now.  First, 2018 will include an Animal Control Officer back in the budget for the first time in 10 years. We have relied on the county for this service for the last decade and now that revenues will support it, it’s time to start working on our feral cats and other animal issues.

Second, we’re adding staff to the Health Department. As of January 1, 2018, the Health Department will be open through lunch and all day on Friday.

To make the most of the valuable tax dollars that you give us, we are changing our payroll system. Any employees hired after January 1, 2018 will be on a new payroll system. In the current existing payroll system (which has been in place for over 30 years), employees get automatic increases each year for 7 years and then top out at the peak salary for whatever position they hold. Under the new system, those automatic increases are spread out over more years, meaning that city employees will start to get increases more in line with the private sector. As people leave and retire, any replacement employees will also be placed into the new program. We believe that this will save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars after 5 years of implementation.

You’ll see further upgrades to the I-75 interchange area as we continue beautification efforts on the medians. As revenues allow, we’ll start moving down State Route 122 and upgrade the median landscaping throughout the city in future years.

We currently spend about $700,000 a year on street light electricity. One of the suggestions that I made to City Council back in 2014 was to look at charging the residents for that service. Most Ohio communities already have a monthly charge on the water bill for street light electricity. We’ve put that concept on hold, however, as we will be converting all of the city street lights to LED starting in 2018. This is expected to save us hundreds of thousands of dollars in electric costs each year. If I can pay less for electric, then that savings can be reinvested in roads and other infrastructure improvements without costing residents another penny.

In 2017, the Health Department completed a Community Health Assessment of Middletown.  As we move into 2018, I want to start exploring that report along with our EMS data and look at plans and programs that would improve the overall health of our residents.

Finally, to develop the best housing policies for the city moving forward, we not only have to do what is best for the city overall, but we have to understand the impacts of the best practices on the most disadvantaged in our community. What will any contemplated changes do to fixed income seniors, the poor and minority residents?

To be successful, we’ll need to hear their voices and understand their concerns. For me to be successful in changing our housing policies, we simply must address diversity and inclusion. Middletown, like many other cities, is often a very segregated city, between the haves and the have-nots, and at times between the white majority and our minority Latino and African American populations. Working together with ALL interested and impacted parties on housing issues gives everyone a chance to learn to trust each other a little more and to work towards common goals.

To my friends in the African American community, I will continue to put my hand out in friendship and will continue to truthfully tell you what I am trying to do and why I am trying to do it. That won’t change. We won’t always agree, but I hope that at some point you’ll believe that I’m sincere in my intention to improve your neighborhoods and that you will join me collectively to improve the city.

You want better, safe neighborhoods. I want a viable housing stock that attracts families to Middletown and improves property values throughout the city. It seems to me as though those goals are common and mutually inclusive. It should be a win/win situation. Let’s work together in 2018 to make sure that is what happens.

City Council gave me a goal three years ago of turning the City back towards prosperity without raising taxes. What that effectively means is that we have to design a profitable government that not only maintains existing services, but also generates enough revenue to start completing deferred maintenance on our roads, parks, neighborhoods and city buildings. It’s a tough job that most days I love.

I hope that you’re happy with the direction that the city is moving. Please always feel free to send us comments on things we could improve or good things you’ve seen in other cities that might benefit Middletown.

With Christmas coming next week, this will be my last blog post for the year.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  Enjoy the holidays and I’ll see you all in 2018!

 

 

2017 Year End Recap

So we come to the end of another year in Middletown.  I’m happy to say it’s been a productive year that moved us a little closer to sustainable revenues and better infrastructure.  

We are fortunate to have over three-quarters of a billion dollars in new projects recently completed or underway in Middletown for 2017 including the new NTE Power Plant ($600 million), the official opening of the AK Research and Innovation Center ($36 million), construction on the new Kettering Health Network Emergency Room/Outpatient facility at the I-75 Interchange ($30 million), $90 million in new schools for MCSD under way that will be completed in 2018, OPUS – with construction starting in 2018 on a 600,000 sq ft spec logistics center in MADE Industrial Park ($12+ million), Cohen opened an Electronics Recycling Center and is completing work on a new headquarters in Middletown, Cincinnati Eye Institute expanded to a new facility on the Atrium Campus, Baker Stevens Parramore Funeral Home opened a second location in 2017, the BP Gas station at the I-75 Interchange finally became a reality,  Dedicated Motivated Fitness invested $600,000 in a long time empty, blighted building to create a beautiful fitness center, and Hardee’s is nearing completion on Breiel Boulevard.

Downtown Middletown, which saw 23 new business openings in 2016, continued to expand with 2017 openings by Gracie’s, the Slice, Liberty Spirits Distillery , Rolling Mills Brewing Company, Spoken Bicycles, Grandpa Joe’s Candy and Blast Furnace Pizza.  In early 2018, we add new businesses already underway with a new O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and a BMW Motorcycle store in the old Senior Citizens Center.

Our Municipal Airport received and utilized a $1.1 million grant to repave all taxiways, ramps and aprons this year.  We replaced an antiquated weather system and will be working in 2018 to look at airport lighting and other repairs.  We continue to work with the Start Skydiving team to develop an indoor wind tunnel for the airport to add to the regional draw at that facility.

Our Small Business Development Center, which operates out of the City building had its most successful year to date.   They were honored in 2017 by the State of Ohio Award as the Best Center, received the SBA Region 5 Award (5 surrounding states) as Best Center, and also won the National SBA Award.  The national SBA looks at the 987 Centers operating throughout the United States.  This was the first time the National Award had been presented to an Ohio Center.

In December, the City established a PACE District. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) laws allow property owners to borrow money through governmental loans or bonds to pay for energy improvements to their properties. The amount borrowed is typically repaid via a special assessment on the property tax bill over a period of up to 30 years.  The BMW store in the old Senior Citizens Center is expected to be the first user of PACE financing in Middletown, but ANY business making energy efficiency improvements anywhere in Middletown that meets the program requirements can use the PACE financing tool for items such as roofs/windows/HVAC/insulation/ lighting upgrades, etc. 

In 2017, the Health Department completed a Community Health Assessment, identifying health threats to the community and populations that are being underserved in their health care due to age, location, or economic condition.  We hope utilize this information in 2018 to start looking at ways to make inroads into the health of our residents throughout the city.

The Division of Fire utilized a SAFER Grant to bring on 12 new fire fighters.  They completed a new Strategic Plan for the Fire Division in 2017, setting high level overall goals for the Division. Based on the goals established in the Strategic Plan, the Division of Fire will be working on a staffing and fire station location study in 2018 to design the best possible Fire Department to serve the city as it is currently built and to anticipate growth on the East End by the highway.

Our Heroin Response Team, made up of an EMS Paramedic, a MPD police officer and a Social Worker, reached out to addicts that were treated in Middletown in 2017.  This team successfully referred over 250 people to treatment and their work will continue into 2018.

The additional fire staff brought on with the SAFER grant allowed the city to  promote three new Lieutenants in 2018 whose main focus will be working on prevention efforts. This will include working with the Health Department on the conditions identified in the Community Health Assessment, continuing to look at the latest best practices in addressing opiate addiction, and addressing chronic, repeat EMS calls through community para-medicine techniques.

Community Para-medicine is a model of community-based health care in which paramedics function outside their customary emergency response and transport roles in ways that facilitate more appropriate use of emergency care resources and enhance access to primary care for medically under-served populations.

The Division of Police have recorded a 40% increase in drug arrests over 2016.  We now utilize 5 K-9’s to combat opiate epidemic.   MPD is in the process of adding new police software and technology that will give them real time crime data to make better and more timely staffing and enforcement decisions moving forward.

As usual, Chief Muterspaw has been everywhere in the community. MPD celebrated multiple community events in 2017 including National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop (quarterly), meeting with Middletown area pastors (quarterly), continued work with the Citizens Advisory Board, Candy with a Cop (distributing candy to children too sick or disabled to trick or treat), Shop with a Cop (to provide Christmas gifts to underprivileged children), and ongoing work with Middletown landlords.

We now have one Lieutenant who is assigned to nuisance enforcement throughout the city.  In 2018, you will start to see the use of technology to track nuisance activity throughout the City, both in EMS service misuse/overuse and on problem properties, neighborhoods and hot spots. The goal is to reduce overall calls for public safety services over time.

Starting in May of 2017, I made a series of presentations on the City’s housing stock and the threats and opportunities facing Middletown moving into the future. A housing study was completed that outlined the current demand for new construction housing in the city, and we saw new residential construction starting to pick up this year. In Renaissance, Fischer is under construction or has completed 36 new higher-end homes. Nicholas Place Apartments on Towne Boulevard is nearing completion with the addition of 216 market rate apartments. Goetz Tower downtown has completed demolition. In 2018, they will build out the entire six story building with 1st floor offices and 16 luxury apartments. We are working with Ryan Homes to restart the Sawyers Mill subdivision which would add 152 new homes in the $150,000-225,000 range over the next three years.

2018 will see a complete revamp of the City’s Housing Policies. We will be working with the community to develop ways to improve housing conditions, housing values and reoccupy vacant homes. Those policies will likely include further demolition, renovation of existing homes, infill construction in limited areas, and a full use of the Butler County Land Bank. The goal of this work will be to start balancing our housing stock to be competitive in Southwest Ohio. Only when we have a better mix of desirable homes throughout the city will housing prices start to improve and stay higher into the future. We have a lot of work to do here yet.  

While the City had many businesses that reached milestones this year, two of our largest are due special mention:

Middletown Regional Hospital/Atrium celebrated 100 years of operation in Middletown this year. Miami University Middletown, Ohio’s first regional campus, celebrated 50 years of operation in Middletown.

We saw the end of our first year of operation of the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) downtown. All in all, it went incredibly well and people have been respectful, threw away their trash, and thoroughly enjoyed attending events downtown and having an alcoholic beverage walking around as they did so.   We look forward to more people and more events downtown in 2018.

July 4th activities were back in 2017, and the city hosted a number of other events including Balloon Fest, First Fridays, Taking it to the Streets summer concerts, Movies in the Park, Women Wine and Chocolate, Windamere themed dinners, parades and now Light Up Middletown.

2017 saw record income tax revenues in Middletown. We have a ton of work left to do, but we are heading in the right direction. With all of the new projects underway, Middletown is living up to its motto of a Bright Past and a Brighter Future.