2018 First Quarter Departmental Reports

As always, I’m impressed by what staff gets accomplished each quarter. I think most of us get up and go through our day and because nothing got in our way or caught our eye, we forget how much work it takes to make your day uneventful.

Let’s start with public safety. Middletown Division of Police (MPD) is in the process of adding a sixth K-9 to our force to continue to combat drug trafficking in Middletown.  There are a lot of reasons to be cautiously optimistic that we may have finally turned the corner on the opiate epidemic in Middletown.

MPD logged in 103 fewer Part I crimes (the most serious crimes) in the first quarter of 2018 vs. the same period last year. Calls for domestic violence are down around 25% this year vs. last year. In the first quarter, MPD responded to 575 fewer total calls for service than the same time last year. Despite the drop in Part I crimes and calls for service, total drug arrests and felony drug arrests are still higher than 2017.

Calls are going down. Drug arrests continue to climb. It’s the right trend if we can keep it going.

Middletown Division of Fire is showing similar positive gains. For the first time in a few years, we ran 102 fewer EMS (Ambulance) calls for service in the first quarter this year vs. 2017.

Opiate related calls are down as well. Year to date in 2018, we’ve run 124 total overdose related EMS calls vs. 231 for the same period last year. Overdose deaths are down as well. 14 in 2018 vs. 26 at the same time last year. Again, trending in the right direction.

Building Inspection issued 11 permits for new residential construction valued at $2.5 million and 4 commercial/industrial permits for new construction valued at $2.6 million.

The Health Department conducted 143 Food Service/Vending inspections, 41 Retail Food Establishment inspections, processed 14 animal bites, issued 1153 Birth Certificates, 1070 Death Certificates and processed 18 indigent cremations. The Health Department also restored their operating hours to pre-recession levels (finally!) and you can visit the Health Department Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Code enforcement logged 200 commercial inspections, resolving 46 violations. They completed 148 residential inspections, resolving 93 violations. Nuisance abatement logged 974 inspections, resolving 138 violations.

The Law Department reviewed 69 contracts and drafted 19 pieces of legislation for City Council. There are 2,881 cases pending in Municipal Court, including 244 felonies, 997 misdemeanors, 59 OVI (drunk driving), and 1,581 traffic cases.

In Public Works, crews have already spent 440 hours preparing flower beds for the spring.  We have cleaned 1,130 linear feet of sewer mains, repaired two major sewer collapses, performed 55 miles of street sweeping, repaired 94 street signs, and responded to 6 snow events spreading 2,453 tons of salt on city roads.

We get complaints about pot holes, and I understand the frustration. PW crews in the first quarter used 383 tons of asphalt repairing pot holes.

We treated 2,486 million gallons of wastewater. We completed 43 water main repairs, and we produced 837 million gallons of potable drinking water.

At the airport, we continue to work with our consultant on the new Master Plan. We are working to get the airport designated as a “Certified” site within the SiteOhio program to make the airport more marketable for new jobs. The state capital budget includes $750,000 for the airport to construct a new education hanger to not only house aviation related workforce development programs, but also to open up new hanger space for use at the airport. All of our T-hangers and all of the community hanger space is now rented and in use.

In the first quarter, Economic Development working with the Chamber of Commerce completed retention visits to Quaker Chemical, Paychex, Suncoke, Steam Systems, Ventilex, NTE, PAC Worldwide, Pilot Chemical, Kroger, Meijer and MTR MARTCO.

Economic Development is working with different partners to prepare additional sites for development.  An 86 acres site across from Atrium Medical Center was chosen by Duke for their Site Readiness program.   We closed on the old Senior Center next to the city building and work should start in the next 90 days on a new BMW Motorcycle shop at that location.

The Small Business Development Center relocated to the third floor of the City building to be more accessible to clients.  During the first quarter, SBDC met with 142 clients and provided 461 hours of business counseling.

Planning Commission convened twice, hearing 5 cases. Historic Commission met three times, hearing 12 cases. Certificates of Zoning compliance were issued to 100 businesses. 220 illegal signs were removed from the right of way. 45 zoning inspections were completed resulting in 40 zoning violation letters being sent.

In February, City Council adopted the new Development Code, which updates our old 1950’s zoning code to one of the most state of the art codes in Ohio. The Charter Review committee is well into their work evaluating potential changes to the City Charter and their recommendations should be coming to City Council this summer for consideration.  The City has completed two Master Plan committee meetings, working to develop the first City Master plan since 2005.

As we get to summer, we’ll be kicking off the review of our housing policies.  It’s a busy time at the city!

 

2018 First Quarter MPD Update

Hello Middletown!

I spent a week earlier this month in Louisville, Kentucky attending a class on using lighting, landscaping and other environmental factors to reduce crime in neighborhood redevelopment. As we move forward with our new housing policies, the information I brought back should be helpful in designing not only sustainable neighborhoods in Middletown, but also in designing neighborhoods that through their layout and design, deter crime in the future.

I also had the opportunity to briefly talk with Chief Muterspaw this past week about the first quarter of 2018.  While I’ll have actual numbers in a week or two with the quarterly departmental reports, the first quarter, January through March, demonstrated a significant reduction in crime and overdoses.

Part One Crimes (the most serious crimes) are down quite a bit from same time last year.  We’ve had no murders in 2018 to date, where last year we had already experienced five murders (2017 was a very atypical year for murders). Aggravated Assaults and thefts are down. Domestic relations and domestic violence calls have dropped significantly over the same time last year. Total calls for service are down. Felony drug arrests are up, which means we’re still out getting the opiates and other drugs off your streets. The reduction in calls for service and crime have allowed our detectives to start clearing more of their cases.

On the opiate front, we see similar good news. In January through March 2017, we had 26 deaths and 231 opiate related overdoses. Through the same period this year, we’ve had 14 deaths and 124 opiate related overdoses.

Whether this is a pause in the action or the beginning of a trend downward in ongoing crime and drug abuse remains to be seen. It’s our hope that all of the changes made to the Division of Police coupled with our Heroin Response Team, the courts, and application of our chronic nuisance ordinance is starting to have effect on crime in many areas of the city.

We still have a long way to go, but I like to share good news when I get it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Building Institute update

The Community Building Institute Middletown, Inc. (CBI) is an asset based community development organization created in 2009. Dr. Kelly Cowan, former Dean of Miami University Middletown, partnered with the Community Building Institute out of Xavier University, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Middletown Community Foundation to create Community Building Institute Middletown.

The Community Building Institute stepped up during the recession and kept the Robert “Sonny” Hill Jr. Community Center open by taking over operations at the building.

CBI is passionate to see Middletown transformed one child, one family, one neighborhood at a time. Their stated goals for Middletown are to see children adequately prepared to enter kindergarten, to have students reading on grade level by the third grade, to have youth set up for success post-graduation through college and career preparedness, and for families in poverty to be moved to self-sufficiency.

By helping families at every generational level, CBI has affected the community as a whole through sustainable programs that revitalize the Middletown area.

In 2017, CBI catalogued an impressive array of community support.

The Parent Resource Center at the Community Center gave away over 11,000 diapers to families in need, connected 75 children to early education programs to be better prepared for kindergarten, and met with over 200 parents to teach them the importance of early education programming.

PRIDE Academy served over 125 children in their after school program, with school age children engaging in enrichment activities such as yoga, music, STEM, tutoring in math and reading, all with a hot snack and hot meal.

The Future Center staff met with 95% of seniors at Middletown High School to create post graduation plans and 69 students and their families participated in FAFSA nights where they received support in completing financial aid information for post secondary schooling.

At the Community Center, CBI partnered with the Middletown City School District and the Butler County Educational Service Center to provide a full day early education classroom that currently serves 17 children. Evening program hours were extended to better serve the youth coming to the Center.

I was around when CBI was formed, and I was fortunate enough to celebrate Dr. Cowan’s retirement from the CBI Board this year after years of service to the community.

CBI continues to do great work in the city and I appreciate their dedication, their programming, and their heart for Middletown.

 

 

City Income Tax Filing Assistance

A reminder that City of Middletown Income taxes are due Tuesday, April 17 this year.  As always, residents can come into the tax office with their W2s and federal schedules and we are happy to complete their City of Middletown tax returns for free. In addition, as the filing deadline approaches, the City will have the following extended hours available to assist residents:

Friday 4/13/18                   8am – 6pm

Saturday 4/14/18             8am – 12pm

Monday 4/16/18              7am– 7pm

Tuesday 4/17/18              7am – 7pm 

Tax forms were NOT sent out by mail this year.  Postcards were sent out instead, and residents can call the Tax Department at 513-425-7862 or email itax@cityofmiddletown.org if they need a form.  Generic forms are accepted. 

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People sometimes forget to file their city income tax forms when completing their state and federal returns.  Don’t forget us!  Your tax dollars fund everything the city does from public safety to paving, to maintenance at the parks.

The Income Tax Department stands ready to assist you.
Residents can also use the fillable PDF available on the City’s website – print and sign it, and mail it in with your attachments (W2’s, 1040, etc).  The online pdf can be accessed at:

https://www.cityofmiddletown.org/DocumentCenter/View/686

 

 

 

City of Middletown Charter Review

About every 10 years, the city performs a review of our City Charter, which lays out the basic structure of the municipal government.  2018 will be a Charter review year, and the information below lays out the basic process and purpose of reviewing the Charter from time to time.

What is the City Charter?

The City Charter is the local equivalent to a state or federal constitution. It defines the relationship between the government and its people. It is the “supreme law” of the City of Middletown. Under the Ohio Constitution, a charter allows a municipality to structure its government as it sees fit. In addition, the City Charter gives Middletown the ability to exercise “home rule” powers by its processes.

What is the purpose of the Charter Review Committee?

Article 1, Section 5 of the City Charter establishes the Charter Review Committee. This group is responsible for reviewing the Charter and recommending to City Council any alterations, revisions, and amendments to this Charter as in its judgment seem advisable. A committee must be formed once every 10 years to review the Charter.

Charter Review Process / Anticipated Schedule

City Council appointed the committee members at the February 20th City Council meeting. The Committee had their first meeting this week. We expect to have two meetings per month through May (or June if necessary). Meetings will be facilitated by Special Counsel, Les Landen. Members of the committee include:

Juan Helvey
John Langhorne
Greg Martin
Lauren Matus
Joseph Newlin
Rick Pearce
Jeff Repper

June 19th          Submit report containing any recommendations to City Council

July 17th           City Council votes on amendments to be placed on the ballot

August 8th        Deadline to file approved amendments with the Board of Elections

If you have any questions about the Charter or the process feel free to contact Les Landen at 727-3673 or by email at lesl@cityofmiddletown.org.

MetroParks of Butler County and the Middletown River Center

Although it’s still chilly, spring is around the corner.  No… really.  It is.

If you are a Middletown resident, you may not be aware that MetroParks of Butler County has eleven parks open to the public with nearly 5,000 acres of green space with recreational opportunities spread throughout the county.

You can see access the many parks available at:  https://www.yourmetroparks.net/

Visitors may spend time enjoying hiking, biking, running or walking on various natural and paved trails at various park system facilities. Many play areas, fishing spots, reservable facilities, shelters and campsites, as well as a dog park are available. There is water recreation through creeking, rentable kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, and stand-up paddleboards. All allow for numerous sources of family fun!

Construction recently began on the River Center, located at 120 South Carmody Boulevard in Middletown, Ohio. The location, chosen due to its proximity to Downtown Middletown and the Great Miami River Trail, will attract visitors to the trail and usage of the AK Pavilion both of which have been assets which have been previously underutilized.

River Center Construction 2

The River Center will play an active role in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Middletown. It is expected have a positive impact on revenue generation in the region as out of town visitors, of the trail and river, will likely spend time in downtown Middletown businesses and special events, as well. This potential regional impact played a big role in the $1 Million State Capital Grant Dollars which were leveraged for the construction.

The River Center is at the trailhead for the 9-mile Great Miami River Trail, Middletown segment, that is managed MetroParks of Butler County in partnership with the City of Middletown and Miami Conservancy District. The trail will eventually be connected via Franklin to Dayton and beyond in 2020 for a total of 67 connected miles and to the south of the City of Fairfield.

River Center Rendering 01-09-18 w Title Block - Resized 20%

River Center features will include:

• 41 parking spaces

• Reservable meeting room Capacity 56

• Kitchenette

• Welcome center / pre-function space

• Restrooms

• Drinking fountain

• Program office

• Ranger office

At a total cost of $1.4 Million, with $1 Million of that supported by a capital grant from the State of Ohio, the Middletown River Center is being built by Turnbull-Wahlert Construction, Inc. The projected completion date is Summer of 2018.

A fun fact about the construction is that storm water from paved areas will be captured and infiltrated on-site, to help to keep the river clean.

A second fun fact about MetroParks is that their Public Safety team is led by Middletown’s former police Chief David VanArsdale!

The Great Miami River Trail in the project area will be closed during construction. Trail users are advised to please use Carmody Boulevard as a detour around the site.

Upcoming Special Events & Programs throughout MetroParks of Butler County include:

• Show and Tell on the Farm Thursdays 6:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. & Sundays 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Chrisholm MetroPark Historic Farmstead

• Dog Gone Bone Hunt Sunday, March 25, 2018- Rentschler Forest MetroPark Reigart Road Area

• Kites N MPX Saturday, April 7, 2018 Voice of America MetroPark

• Garden Explorers & Junior Master Gardeners Camps Saturdays, April 28 & September 15 Chrisholm MetroPark Historic Farmstead

• Spring & Summer Camps Various dates & locations in April – September

• Big Week of Birding in Butler County Saturday, April 28 Saturday, May 5, 2018 Various times & locations around the county

• Hump Day Concert Series Wednesdays, May 30 August 22, 2018 (excluding July 4th)

• Crazy Cardboard Regatta July 14, 2018 Voice of America MetroPark

• Mud Mania August 10 & 11, 2018 Rentschler Forest MetroPark Reigart Road Area

More information about Programming and Events can be found at http://reservations.yourmetroparks.net/programs/

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.