Middletown Paperboard site is ready for redevelopment and county commissioners want to help

“On the morning of January 1, 2020 I received an early morning phone call saying the Middletown Paperboard site was on fire and it’s one of those sites you think of initially oh wow let it burn” , did he declare. “For obvious reasons, you know we can’t allow it. Then my heart kind of sank because we know a lot of wanderers, homeless people who come into the structure.

He said the $2.4 million will cover the demolition of the rest of the buildings, the removal of the “huge pile of rubble” and the remediation of the site for redevelopment. Returning to the city’s roots in steel and paper, he said: “Middletown is steel as strong, as tough as paper and we know we have to look at the technology of the future of the jobs that exist. .”

“This $2.38 million will finally allow us to bring this dead and devastated part of the city of Middletown back to life,” Lolli said. “This will allow us to remediate the entire site and then look to the future, bringing light industrial jobs, an office park and new technology to the city of Middletown.”

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter has expressed concern that the project may not qualify for federal coronavirus relief funds because the pandemic did not cause the problem. She said she wanted the city to provide a memorandum of understanding on how this project would qualify, such as benefiting disadvantaged people and businesses in the area and other specifics of the project.

Carpenter was the only commissioner to release her full plan for nearly $75 million in federal funds, and she suggested using $5 million in dollars from the “surplus general fund” for the bulk of the city’s request. and approximately $1 million in ARPA for the Oakland Neighborhood Housing Initiative. .

Commissioner Don Dixon told Lolli that he supports the project whether or not it qualifies under ARPA rules.

“In my mind, this project is eligible, me for one, if something amazing happens and it doesn’t qualify, we’re still going to do it under the general fund,” Dixon said.

Inflation hits the project

Dixon suggested the city should recheck its estimates for the project because “the numbers have gone up and up and up.”

Lolli said they were already planning to get new estimates, especially since they had an estimate of $350,000 to renovate the police locker room and the lowest bid was $430,000.

The US Department of Labor recently said the April increase pushed inflation to 8.3%, a rate not seen in decades. The costs of consumer products and building materials are on the rise.

The city had planned to apply for part of the $350 million the state is providing for brownfields remediation, but missed the deadline for the first round of secured funding. Lolli told the Journal-News that they would apply before the July 1 deadline for the competitive portion of brownfield funds for the Paperboard project. Funds will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’ll be prepared to go after that grant and do whatever we can to hopefully get some state support to get the cardboard area back and possibly some of the other projects there,” he said. said Lolli. “

Carpenter said that if the city gets the state grant, they’re “still committing to that dollar amount to go to the whole area they’re looking at redeveloping.” Commissioner TC Rogers said “I don’t want to open this” and he only supports Project Paperboard for ARPA funding.

Dixon told the Journal-News that if they were awarded the grant, he would be willing to invest the $2.4 million in the Middletown redevelopment, but not necessarily the entire application.

“I think we’re going to have to take it step by step,” Dixon said. “We haven’t seen enough of a plan yet and I’m not yet convinced that we have something doable. We know what needs to be done and the clean up needs to be done as we redevelop. We’re going to take small steps but we are going in the right direction I think.