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Please Stop The Talk and Get On With It

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    Posted: Nov 08 2016 at 8:55am
Just popped up in the Journal where there is a story that, yet again, mentions the development of the downtown and the riverfront. The DORA runs down to the river according to the article. Need to enhance the downtown a bit and attract more people to live down there are other highlights. A few are excited, once again, at the prospect of this actually happening we are told.

Mentioned the old "Master Plan" again and the concepts that have been talked to death by the powers that be in this city. The new Downtown Middletown Director is excited. Must not know about the past suggestions I guess.

Let's review what we have to date.......

We saw the ideas of Bicentennial Commons and the AK Stage built and we know that they have been used to date for a few blues concerts (with more held at the city building in the past than at this location) and we have all seen the Lake Middletown fiasco with the mud hole dug out only to be bungled by the city as they prematurely opened the dike to let silt out into the river resulting in a city fine of 350 grand by the Army Corps of Engineers. The end result of that idea was the city paid this fine for a now, overgrown mud hole of no use whatsoever. Another bungled project. That is fact.

We have also had discussions/proposals of a convention center located on the banks of the river by the bridge years ago. This convention center was to attract hotels and river activity, just as this story is relating to. It appears we have just re-invented the wheel so to speak.

These proposals surface every 5-10 years and, as quickly as they pop up, they fade into the sunset and go into the "it's just talk" folder to be resurrected at a later date. History shows this to be true.

I would venture to guess that this too, will take the same direction. What developer would sink millions into riverfront development, given the current state of affairs in this area? This would require such a large amount of money, even the city couldn't find enough phantom funds to give away to their friends as they have in the past and there surely isn't enough profit attraction for any private investment there.

While we are talking about being "down by the river", how's that new building by the bike path coming along? Haven't heard too much about it since the initial announcement.   
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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 08 2016 at 11:32am

More development along river part of downtown Middletown plan

Mike Rutledge

Staff Writer

9:18 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016

 

 

MIDDLETOWN

Part of the plan for downtown Middletown may be to expand it into a new area — a 21-acre space along the Great Miami River between Carmody Boulevard, Water Street, Central Avenue and 2nd Avenue.

Under a Downtown Master Plan that OHM Advisors is creating for Downtown Middletown Inc., “a forgotten industrial canal” would be restored to create a multi-use development along the waterfront, with a 120-room hotel facing the river, areas for recreation and large events, a beer garden, plus either commercial or residential space for a developer to create or rehab from existing buildings.

How robust the residential area would be would depend on how much of the southwestern portion of the land regulatory agencies decide could be used.

OHM Advisors gave an early peek of these plans last week to a few dozen interested residents and business people.

“The timeline is to have an actual, completed master plan by the end of the year,” said DMI’s executive director, Mallory Greenham, “but we just needed to get some additional feedback from the larger majority of the community to ensure we’re still on the right track before we get too far toward the end of the plan.”

With the canal development area, “there are different options on the property because we’re not sure about the remediation of this part,” including whether environmental regulators will allow building of residential or commercial buildings in the southwestern portions, Greenham said.

“If it is ever remediated to a level, then Option B (with extra residential or commercial) could be implemented,” Greenham said. If not, Option A, with more park areas, would be the preferred choice.

The proposed beer garden in the plan is the first one OHM Advisors has ever put into a master plan, she said, “because we have the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) that goes all the way to the riverfront. So it would actually be an operating bar, with bathrooms, and people could actually hang out over there,” Greenham said.

A pedestrian walkway would end at the riverfront, while bike trails would wind through the 21 acres.

Larry Wood, a commercial real estate agent who used to work for city government, said he was impressed to see “a lot of creative ideas” presented at the meeting.

“It’ll take a lot of synergy and working together with a lot of people to make them happen, but I think it’s a start — it’s a vision — and without a vision, you’re not going anywhere,” he said.

Wood added that he was glad about “just the fact that they’re doing it — getting movement.”

The master plan’s creators noted that a market analysis of downtown housing possibilities by the Danter Company found there is capacity in the area for 96 apartments above existing storefronts; 176 new-construction apartments or townhomes; and 44 student units with 152 total beds, featuring a mix of two- and four-bedroom units.

OHM said it also heard these mandates during public input session:

  • Redevelopment of downtown should include addressing the riverfront
  • Improving downtown’s physical appearance is critical
  • People want improved bicycle and pedestrian connections to better connect downtown with parks and the riverfront
  • Diverse housing options are important to bring current residents to downtown and to attract newcomers

The planners also determined more people must live downtown to help attract commercial development there.

OHM Advisors worked with a large steering committee to set the general course for the plan, said Justin Robbins, a senior planner and project manager.

Also shown during the public gathering were several areas where private developers could step in and create projects that uphold the plan’s goals. Those areas include the riverfront area as well as:

  • Broad Street, where 40 townhomes would be built in each of two phases, a park would be expanded in the third phase, and where South Broad Street could be temporarily shut down for events, creating a 1/4-mile linear, pedestrian-only zone for festivals and events.
  • Manchester and Vail avenues, where 72 apartments perched atop parking garages would join 21 townhomes for 93 total new housing units.

“We want to coordinate between what people are telling us they want, and what is hopefully do-able, and how private development can orient themselves to really leverage those assets,” Robbins said. “We want to set the framework for someone to come in and do a project like this.”

The study by Danter put more weight behind OHM’s recommendations, he said.

“We’re using the findings from that market study to really bolster what we’re recommending in terms of housing, and what the market can support for additional housing in the downtown,” Robbins said. “And housing’s critical — it’s really important to have a strong basis of support for the commercial that you have in an area.

“So the more people that you can put in one area, the more active the place becomes, the more people you have in the streets, the more people you have visiting coffee shops, restaurants and businesses,” he added.

Meanwhile, “the buildings that are already in the downtown, that’s in our policy framework, for those to become either office or residential, to make sure there are income-generating uses for the property owners, and there’s tax revenues coming in to the city as well,” he said. “It doesn’t do anybody any good if it’s used for storage or sitting vacant.”

“There are a lot of nice historic buildings down here where there’s ample opportunity to rehab those,” Robbins said. 

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Joshua View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joshua Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 08 2016 at 12:22pm
As a proud resident of Middletown I am absolutely thrilled that past failures have not stopped the city, investors, or concerned citizens from trying to improve our city.  This is a good time to be in Middletown!  Lots of developments including the new schools...I for one am very excited!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 08 2016 at 1:33pm
Originally posted by Joshua Joshua wrote:

As a proud resident of Middletown I am absolutely thrilled that past failures have not stopped the city, investors, or concerned citizens from trying to improve our city.  This is a good time to be in Middletown!  Lots of developments including the new schools...I for one am very excited!


Joshua, it is great to be optimistic about anything that occurs in this city. I don't want to rain on your parade but the reality of the situation is that while we will have more new schools to admire, the fact is the new schools are only a façade to what is transpiring from within. Using an analogy here, we are all viewing a nice shiny vintage muscle car from the outside, but under the hood, we have a rusted, underpowered four cylinder engine with a leaking transmission to power that same vintage car. Looks good on the surface but take a gander at what is happening in your schools behind those nice pristine walls. Go to Google and call up the proficiency scores for the Middletown school district and take a look at the indicator count since the inception of proficiency testing. Go to any year, doesn't matter, as any year will reveal a real problem with the performance in the education of the kids. Low scoring, bottom dwelling system, each year....every year. New schools are not making any difference on improving performance. New elementary schools, built years ago, have had no effect. The proof is contained in the pages of the proficiency scores. It is what it is Joshua. Question for you.....are we sending the kids to school to be effectively educated to prepare them for life or are we sending them to school to attend a nice modern new building with a failing ability to prepare them for life?

I've been a "proud resident of Middletown" for 68 years now but in the last 30+ years, the city leaders have made me "just a little less proud" by dragging the city down toward ghetto status and a tad less desirable than it use to be.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 08 2016 at 3:10pm
Hmmm...Where does the Manchester Inn fit into this new plan?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joshua Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 10 2016 at 10:23pm
When it comes to Middletown City Schools don't worry about raining on my parade.  I've got two students in Middletown schools (8th & 6th) so I know exactly what's going on.  My son plays three instruments, is taking Algebra I (I took as a Freshman) and has always scored either accelerated or advanced on the various standardized tests he's taken over the years.  My daughter plays one instrument (first year band student), has been invited to speak at a school board meeting, was honored with the Middle Pride award, and also has scored advanced or accelerated on the state tests.  The point is not to brag about my children (whom I'm very proud of) but to let you know what I see, "happening behind those nice pristine walls."  I don't take much stock into these standardized tests (which is a topic in and of itself).  The tests are currently set up to see public schools fail.  Take a look at how the "desirable" public schools in our area scored on the recent tests...not good.  It's a bad system and it's constantly changing.  At any rate, any parent who cares about their child's education and is willing to support them and provide them a stable learning environment will see them flourish in Middletown Schools!  So to answer your question, my Middies are being prepared life and a college education if that's what they choose to pursue.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 11 2016 at 5:55pm
"The tests are currently set up to see public schools fail."

It is, none the less, Joshua, the game that is before the schools and they are expected to perform, no matter what obstacles are before them. Excuses are unacceptable and this is a classic excuse used many times by the school supporters/personnel. Not cutting it.

Your comment is typical of those closely connected with the school system here. The suggestion that the state is against the schools for making the tests too difficult and the notion from teachers, administrators and superintendents that "we can't succeed because the bar is too high for us to achieve the goals presented to us" are time worn and old news. We, the taxpayers, paying for these Taj Mahal schools they are building and paying for them from our wallets, have lost patience with the constant excuses from school personnel about why they can't do the job. Let's just see what the recurring comments are coming from the board of education, the "yes" levy people, and the superintendents the last three decades.......

1. The bar is too high and we can't accomplish what the state is asking
2. We just can't do it without new schools and modern technology in those schools
3. You taxpayers need to pass the operating, emergency, renewal, new or continuing levies for us to carry on our plans to educate the kids.
4. Just give us more time and we will start turning things around
5. We have a new plan that will replace the old plan and we know this new plan will show improvement
6. We made some progress on the proficiency tests as our numbers have risen from last time (even though the new "improved" numbers are still at the bottom of the totem pole as compared to the surrounding school districts) (and have been since the inception of the proficiency testing) Voodoo magic number perception game here.
7. With our new changes we will see progress on the next round of testing....

ALL CRAP with no real meaning coming from the school people. If the school people were in private industry, and they had to satisfy a CEO and a Board of Directors controlling the majority stocks in the company, all of these people in the Middletown schools would have been fired years ago. A company just can't see repetitive failure and stay in business. The controlling stock members would have cut their loses and shut down the company long ago if the company performed like the schools. Because the schools are in the public domain, they remain open and we all live with the nonsense we are seeing year after year with no upward progress in sight. A waste of money to put one more penny in the Middletown schools at this point based on their performance. Let the state take over. The people in Columbus couldn't do any worse.

You have kids that produce and are successful. Congratulations. They are in the minority. The majority are, at best, average or below. The testing gives us that picture. The tests, right or wrong, are the games to be played. Adjust and adapt to them to achieve success. No excuses, no repeat poor performances. Find the answer and improve. Otherwise, we are all wasting money and time with the current way of doing things. That is the harsh truth of the matter. The Board of Directors (the taxpayers) have had enough excuses. I would imagine, if it were allowed, most would want the school personnel gutted from Superintendent on down and replaced with people that can produce and if they can't we would keep trying until we did find the right people to man the ship. Right now, the Middletown Titanic is just drifting at sea with no direction, an inept crew and a failed Captain/Superintendent/School Board giving the orders. It is doomed to continue to hit the iceberg if actual changes are not made. It just can't be "business as usual" if we are to see any positive progress. This has lingered far too long. JMO
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ACCaudill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 21 2016 at 1:03pm
Wait till the pot houses open. That's when things will liven up. Nothing like mom'n'pop opportunities to boost a town.
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