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CITY INVESTMENT IN DOWNTOWN

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whistlersmom View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 19 2017 at 10:59pm
Read the City Manager's Blog on City of Middletown!!
Here are excerpts...Comments will follow on next post


City Investment in Downtown Businesses
MAY 19, 2017 LEAVE A COMMENT
Our friends over at Middletown USA seem fixated on the millions of dollars that we pump into downtown each year. I thought it was important to lay out the facts and then have a discussion.   I started on this blog post yesterday and hit the wrong button and published it half written. I apologize for the confusion if you saw the earlier posting.

Our intention was always to prime the pump for private sector commercial redevelopment and then to get out of the way. We did that with Pendelton Arts Center and Cincinnati State and earlier with Beau Verre.   Here is our investment in downtown since I took over as City Manager in 2015:

The City has also provided funding for the façade grant program. This is a reimbursable grant for exterior repairs to storefronts.   The façade grant program is funded through a HUD program from the 1980’s called UDAG. Here is HUD’s explanation of the program:

“The Secretary is authorized to make urban development action grants to cities and urban counties which are experiencing severe economic distress to help stimulate economic development activity needed to aid in economic recovery. There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $225,000,000 for fiscal year 1988, and $225,000,000 for fiscal year 1989. Any amount appropriated under this subsection shall remain available until expended.”

We have been loaning and recycling that fund since 1989. DMI (Downtown Middletown Inc.) currently oversees the receipt of applications and the distribution of funding for façade grants. To date it has been used for downtown façade renovations. The thought was to utilize the grants in a small area to make a noticeable difference in storefront appearance. We have temporarily suspended the program for 2017 and are looking at future uses for the remaining funds, including opening the program up to some other dedicated area outside of downtown.

The following grants have been made since 2015:

Year                        Owner                                                  Amount

2015                     Middletown Arts Center                     $ 1,890.00

2015                     Middletown Better Homes               $ 2,000.00

2015                     Barbara Park Realty                          $ 10,000.00

2015                     Pendleton Corp                                  $ 7,713.00

2015                     2005 Group                                         $    956.00

2015                    Art Central Foundation                    $ 1,693.00

2015                   Middletown Better Homes               $ 5,000.00

2015                   Cincy by the Slice                               $ 4000.00

2015                   Denny Lumber                                   $ 4,000.00

2015                   Art Central Foundation                   $ 1,500.00

2015                   Liberty Spirits                                   $ 2,000.00

2015                   1310 Pendleton                                 $ 3,000.00

2016                   Liberty Spirits                                  $     500.00


2016                  Torchlight Pass, LLC                      $ 30,000.00

2016                 All About You Catering                   $ 600.00

2016               One Market Eatery                           $ 7,926.00

2016               Gracie’s LLC                                       $20,000.00

2016               Central Y Canal Investment           $ 1,580.00

2016               West Central Wine                          $ 432.00

Total:                                                                       $104,840.00
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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whistlersmom View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 19 2017 at 11:00pm
Mr. Adkins has dug (no pun intended) deep to dredge up so much crap to present as the wonderful job that the city has done downtown AND claim they have spent so little in the process.

Has everyone figured out that maybe half of the lengthy list of small businesses are under the same one or two roofs? No addresses have been revealed. We wish Ms. Vitori well but we would like to know which and how many of this list presented by Mr Adkins are under her roof. Very few people will be employed there.

The tax abatements given to several small businesses is a considerable cost for the city over ten or twelve years.

Buildings that the city gave away cost the city their purchase price, never to be reimbursed.

Wasn’t Ms. Greenham director of Downtown Middletown Inc. when her fiance acquired 1201 Central Ave. from the city for a bargain basement price?   DMI under Ms. Greenham’s leadership had to approve this sale (remember the required approval for O’Reillys) for the bike shop that they will now run together.   Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Adkins says that we have grant money left over from 1989!   What a joke!!   Now he says that DMI oversees the funding for facade grants. Since when can a non-governmental agency handle government money?   And the city was paying Ms. Greenham’s salary. Weren’t the original facade grants limited to $5000? When did DMI raise the grant limits? A grant, by definition is just that, a grant, which does not have to be paid back. How can the city “loan and recycle” grant money (not a loan) since 1989?

I was going to try to correct all of Mr. Adkins false statements, but my computer has a limited amount of memory.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" Edmond Burke
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 19 2017 at 11:34pm
Wow, Mr. Adkins must have some thin skin to post this....

First - I agree with Whistler.  Sure - this is a list of money spent on downtown....but it's just one of the lists.

Let's see the list that, oh, I don't know - blocked off all the streets downtown for a crappy ass mall - the removal of said mall and the re-running of all the streets....and the constant maintenance of city services for the last 20 years of absolutely no commercial activity at all....and that's just scratching the surface.

Then there's all the tax abatements, the property giveaways, the yada, yada, yada.

Good try Mr. Adkins - you're not fooling anyone!
Buddhalite - about 50 pounds short of a full buddha, but was 30 over so the diet is working! Glad to be back in Middletown!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 19 2017 at 11:44pm
I just went and read the entire piece by Mr. Adkins....

It's great to show all these businesses and studios and such that set up here.....

But let's see the contribution by all of these businesses to the coffers of the city.

Then....let's see the contribution of the rest of the businesses in the city to the city coffers. 

You see, Mr. Adkins - no one here is really against the development of downtown - but the development we put in place there doesn't actually generate back what we have invested in it.  

Looking at the list that you put forth - there's only one business on that list that I have any reason to ever patronize - and that place just opened this week - and even then - I gotta go downtown to visit them which means it probably won't happen.

This really is a tale of two cities.  The old Middletonians vs. well, everyone else.  

One day the old guard won't be in power or be around anymore - and then we can get somewhere with this city.  It happened to every other city along the I-75 corridor north of Cincinnati - and it's only a matter of time before it happens here.  I just hope the citizens of this town don't wait so long to change the guard that we jump the shark entirely.
Buddhalite - about 50 pounds short of a full buddha, but was 30 over so the diet is working! Glad to be back in Middletown!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2017 at 12:08am
Whistlersmom -

Yes, I was once told by Marty Kohler that the "Downtown" Facade Grant Program was limited to $5,000 per property owner.  I had NO involvement with this and other "downtown" funds as they were totally controlled by him.  I also have no clue if there were ever any program guidelines even though I was the Community Development Coordinator under himr.  From one or two brief conversations with him, I did not think that a participating business could receive more than one grant.  Maybe he or perhaps Doug Adkins (?) may have raised the maximum amount of assistance to $10,000 to $20,000 for Gracie's after I was forced out of my job in early 2009..

As for the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) funds, Mr. Kohler told me that the city assisted the Wilson Company on Roosevelt Avenue in applying for and receiving funding.  I never knew the amount of the grant or saw a copy of the HUD grant agreement.  The funding that Wilson Company received was amortized over an unknown (to me) repayment period.  I am unaware of the rate of interest of this job creation loan.

You might ask Mr. Adkins if he has the UDAG files and can shed some light on this?  I doubt that he has said documentation as he told us before that the files more than seven years old are routinely purged.

I do thank Russ Carolus, former Finance Director, as I never would have learned about the sizable Section 8 Miscellaneous fund that totaled several hundred thousand dollars.  Again, this was never shared with me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2017 at 8:55am
the funding shifted to the area before 2015 is even more interesting.
go back over 20-30 years for a staggering figure especially to only be as far as it is.
We keep giving to Pendleton--what was the funding to achieve?

once again musa is played as the bad guy for questioning questionable activities.

hey---enjoy it down there
should be a crazy day for the ladies today

was down there last night with two others
hit three places
deadsville

bring your friends to this site, Joshua
we can have real discussion
would be helpful to everyone imo
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2017 at 2:52pm
tip of the iceberg
and could we see expenditures in similar businesses located outside of the former downtown?

take it back only 20 years
to see how much
totals(including admin hours) for:
Thatcher transactions
Duncan Oil
Manchester
Rose
Goetz(5th/3rd)
Pendleton(well over a mill--maybe 2?)
Beau Verre
Finkleman
TV Middletown/Torchlight
Cincy St
Liberty
former bank buildings
Arts Central
DMI
MMF
CVB

not so much currently as the grand total over two+ decades to be this far along
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2017 at 6:04pm
Spiderjohn -

As you know first-hand as a long-standing business owner, the city's record in assisting commercial enterprises in or near older neighborhoods has been/is pretty much non-existent.  And, the more recent fixation of senior city staff with massive residential property demolition plus the cessation of a owner-occupied housing rehabilitation program has accelerated further decline in these areas.

It would also be interesting to note the number of neighborhood businesses that have closed-up shop or are barely hanging on.  The same goes for the predominant locations of first-time buyer down payment/closing cost assistance loans.  I'm willing to wager that most of these are situated east of Breiel Boulevard.  So much of this has occurred since 2009 and cannot be blamed solely on Juds Gilleland.

Nelson Self
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2017 at 6:07pm
Spiderjohn -

Don't forget the voluminous number of staff and consultant hours spent on the failed Section 8 dispute with Cleveland office of HUD.  We will never fully know what that endeavor cost.

Nelson Self
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2017 at 8:37pm
"Our friends over at Middletown USA seem fixated on the millions of dollars that we pump into downtown each year."

Should we forget about all the taxpayer money that has led to failed projects in the downtown Adkins? You want to right it off as easily as that? Millions wasted attract our attention as well as our "fixation".

"Our intention was always to prime the pump for private sector commercial redevelopment and then to get out of the way"

What a joke!!! You've done nothing but act as the purchaser for private property to invoke your gameplan of the downtown. Thatcher estate building purchases, Manchester Hotel purchase, Rose Furniture building purchase, etc. You are not serious about "getting out of the way" are you? You have managed since day one down there to control the proper direction you want the downtown to go. You have NEVER turned it over to the private sector for development because you can't control who buys the buildings nor what kind of businesses will occupy the downtown that might not meet your "artzy/cultural" concept.

"We did that with Pendelton Arts Center and Cincinnati State and earlier with Beau Verre.   Here is our investment in downtown since I took over as City Manager in 2015"

No, you did not "get out of the way" with the CS or Beau Verre development. You gave a taxpayer loan to the Beau Verre owners that may or may not have been paid back, we don't know for sure. You bought the Thatcher buildings to set up CS in the old CG&E building to start operations. The others you gave away just to unload them. You had the old Seniors Center sold and bought it back after the buyer backed out. Your stuck with a white elephant in the old Studio asbestos building purchased with taxpayer money. You not only primed the pump, you bought the dam buildings and some you gave away. The Pendelton Arts Center was started using $350,000 of taxpayer money. It would never have happened if you waited for a private sector investor to bite on this specialized usage. The taxpayers funded most of what has happened in your precious downtown.

"The City has also provided funding for the façade grant program. This is a reimbursable grant for exterior repairs to storefronts.   The façade grant program is funded through a HUD program from the 1980’s called UDAG. Here is HUD’s explanation of the program:"

Call it a grant, tell us it comes through HUD and whitewash it as much as you want, but the bottom line.....it is still taxpayer money used once again if it came through HUD.

Your list seems to indicate that most grants are given in the downtown. Why?

I seriously doubt most living here are interested in your downtown and want more money invested. Why do you honor the wishes of a small contingent of the city residents and ignore what the other 85%-90% want for their city? All the while, the city leaders keep telling us they need to get out of the real estate business. Have done so for many years. When will you actually do it?
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 spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2017 at 8:57pm
Point being made to mr.A, council Jonathan and everyone is that we can't change the past--we can possibly shape the future.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mike_Presta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 12:05am
Let's not forget all of the FACADE Grant money that has been spent on the REAR of downtown buildings facing alleys for such things as repairing/replacing old doors and windows and painting back walls.  This is actually ROUTINE MAINTENANCE, not "façade" work!!!   Why do downtown business owners have the taxpayers foot the bill for their routine maintenance when no other businesses in other areas of town get the fruit of the same scam??? 
“Mulligan said he ... doesn’t believe they necessarily make the return on investment necessary to keep funding them.” …The Middletown Journal, January 30, 2012
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swohio75 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 10:32am
Originally posted by whistlersmom whistlersmom wrote:



Buildings that the city gave away cost the city their purchase price, never to be reimbursed.

Wasn’t Ms. Greenham director of Downtown Middletown Inc. when her fiance acquired 1201 Central Ave. from the city for a bargain basement price?   DMI under Ms. Greenham’s leadership had to approve this sale (remember the required approval for O’Reillys) for the bike shop that they will now run together.   Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Once again whistlersmom spreads unfactual information---information that this individual could EASILY confirm with a simple property look up at the Bulter County Auditor's site.

1.) The city has NEVER owned 1201 Central
2.) 1201 is NOT owned by Ms. Greenham's fiancee
3.) 1201 was sold in a private transaction in December 2016 to a Richard Montgomery for $105,000--hardly a bargain basement price
4.) The owner did receive a CRA that was approved by City Council NOT DMI.  

How am I supposed to take this person seriously when he/she can't even get the basics right...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 11:39am
swohio75 -

Despite presenting reasonable questions to Mr. Adkins, etc., we are still in the dark on a few "Former Downtown" Facade Grant Program matters:

1) does city staff operate this "former downtown" deal according to established guidelines and procedures?
2) if so, were these documents reviewed and approved by city council?
3) since as much as $20,000 was recently given to a "former downtown" business, is this the prevailing maximum               amount of financial assistance?
4) is it possible for Pendleton Arts Center, Robinette, etc. to apply for additional funds in future years?

As for Whistler's Mom, you successfully played the sarcastic "gotcha game" once again.  Despite what you say, he is a person who truly cares about Middletown, is concerned by the wasteful and unsuccessful projects, the continuing downward spiral of older neighborhoods, etc. 

Please tell us all about your contributions to the betterment of Middletown. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 12:24pm
Hopefully we all have learned from the past and can move forward as a united community with tax funding spread appropriately and equally where NEEDED(not simply wanted) throughout the city

It would be proper for the city and fund recipients to document to the public exactly how the taxpayer funding has been used. Surely admin follows up on the activity.

Hey--we should all celebrate the good things finally happening in the former downtown, and support the independent businesses. Especially the ones not taking and/or needing public $$ to survive. And those operating down there in the holy land should also support businesses outside of their radius. That is how we become one community again.

jmo
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swohio75 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 12:43pm
Originally posted by Analytical Analytical wrote:

swohio75 -

As for Whistler's Mom, you successfully played the sarcastic "gotcha game" once again.  Despite what you say, he is a person who truly cares about Middletown, is concerned by the wasteful and unsuccessful projects, the continuing downward spiral of older neighborhoods, etc. 

Please tell us all about your contributions to the betterment of Middletown. 
If you are suggesting I don't care deeply about Middletown you are mistaken.  And yes, I will continue to play the "gotcha game" when I see misinformation posted here--especially information that can easily be validated from a public source. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swohio75 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 12:46pm
Originally posted by spiderjohn spiderjohn wrote:

Hopefully we all have learned from the past and can move forward as a united community with tax funding spread appropriately and equally where NEEDED(not simply wanted) throughout the city

I am sure you were happy to see the following from Doug's blog:

We have been loaning and recycling that fund since 1989. DMI (Downtown Middletown Inc.) currently oversees the receipt of applications and the distribution of funding for façade grants. To date it has been used for downtown façade renovations. The thought was to utilize the grants in a small area to make a noticeable difference in storefront appearance. We have temporarily suspended the program for 2017 and are looking at future uses for the remaining funds, including opening the program up to some other dedicated area outside of downtown.

I know, from your perspective as a former business owner and property owner, that this has been a bit of a sore spot for you.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 12:59pm
Mr. Adkins -

In the spirit of public information, please provide MUSA participants current details on the status of the UDAG fund including projected annual income stream over the next few years.

Thanks.

Nelson Self
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 1:52pm
Mr. Adkins -

Do you know how many of the 216 upscale Nicholas Place apartments near I-75 have been rented to date?  Are prevailing rents for these two- and three-bedroom units still $1,185 to $1,560 monthly?

Also, as previously requested, please provide relevant information on the number and locations of HOME Program down payment/closing cost assistance first-time home buyer grants.  Is it safe to say that this program has little to no impact on former HUD Target Areas in Ward 2 and parts of Ward 1?

Thanks.

Nelson Self
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swohio75 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 2:26pm
Originally posted by Analytical Analytical wrote:

Do you know how many of the 216 upscale Nicholas Place apartments near I-75 have been rented to date?  Are prevailing rents for these two- and three-bedroom units still $1,185 to $1,560 monthly?


The complex is still under construction, but units are available (and appear to be rented).  Again, a simple web search will produce the information you are looking for in terms of prevailing leasing rates.  I'll save you trouble:

2 bed/2 ba Rent: $995-$1,160
3 bed/2 ba Rent: $1,445-$1,560

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 3:04pm
I read the blog, swohio
btw I respect your opinions, trust your info and in no way doubt your commitment and direction towards the community.

We were lucky in business(maybe good at times!)and honestly never needed corporate welfare from the city. Only time that we were involved was when we were "re-located" from a very successful location on Verity to the then new S University Blvd. I think that my father did the community and neighborhood proud with that project which opened in 1972.

After the mall de-construction(with honestly no follow-up plan), the area began it's slow and very expensive revival. City admin pretty much forgot about the rest of the community to nurse their new baby along. No coincidence that almost all other shopping areas pretty much withered and died except for the far east and west borders. White collar job losses, factory closings(also upper blue collar job losses) factored heavily also(understatement). Schools closed and consolidated and our neighborhood concept was gone.

It is good to finally see Admin(under Mr.A) at least talk about cutting back on the former downtown area obsession/compulsion, though the damage has long been done.

We only hope for the new generation wanting to make this area their home to understand the necessity to involve and include all neighborhoods and everyone. We must all respect and support each other.

This all goes FAR beyond 2015 and a few small niche businesses in a two-block radius. And yes it does bother me to be viewed by so many as a negative force in the community. Truth is often painful for most everyone.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buddhalite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2017 at 4:44pm
Wow - this just gets more and more interesting as each post appears!

Never knew there could be this much discussion about something as simple as the city's investment in downtown....

Look - stop the bickering over individual projects - and stick to the macro level.  At the prima facie level - it CANNOT be disputed that the City has spent MILLIONS upon MILLIONS over the last 30 years on a failing part of town rather than accentuating its positives on the other end of town.  We could have had all that industry and commerce that every town south of here has had these last years - but we spent all our money to save the memory of Granddaddy buying ice cream cones downtown - rather than see the future that this city might have.

You can bicker over a hundred thousand here - ten there - and 5 over there - but they are statistically insignificant when you really look at just how much we've wasted downtown - and reaped ZERO benefit.
Buddhalite - about 50 pounds short of a full buddha, but was 30 over so the diet is working! Glad to be back in Middletown!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2017 at 12:30pm
How sad that any senior city staff member continues to be "held harmless" over a multi-year record of dubious "former downtown" investments, questionable older neighborhoods priorities along with poorly conceived project plans  and nominal positive results.

Is Middletown really a better place to live now than it was 10 years ago or, was Forbes Magazine right?

Does declining population and fewer number of residential properties justify the city's use of considerable tax dollars?

With precarious U.S. and world economic forecasts over the near term, it will be doubly difficult to produce real revitalization.
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