2017 State of the City

State of the City Address - 2017
Mayor Dick Church, Jr.
"Polishing the Star"

Watch the 2017 State of the City

Hello, I’m Miamisburg Mayor Dick Church, Jr.  Welcome to my 2017 State of the City address.  This is my annual report on the major activities related to the Miamisburg local government and community. 

Over the next several minutes, I’m going to review some of the highlights from 2016 in Miamisburg and tell you about some things to watch for in the year ahead.  I hope you’ll find the presentation to be informative and enjoyable.

Work items for our local government vary from year to year based on community and City Council priorities and, of course, revenue projections.  We try to balance City expenditures on equipment purchases, support for core services and infrastructure improvements.  But within that context, 2016 was clearly a year when good old-fashioned hard work was front and center.  It was a year when past planning on several major projects advanced to actual construction.  Yes, the dust was flying throughout the year, and the City’s heavy schedule was only part of it.  Other public entities and even the private sector also got into the act with building projects.  Since Miamisburg is known as the Star City, I guess you could say we were putting polish on the star in 2016.  And when the work is complete, the shine is going to be brighter than ever.
Of course, all this heavy lifting had an effect on motorists and some property owners at various times and we all appreciate the patience of those residents and visitors who were inconvenienced in any way.  There is usually some sort of public pain felt during construction activity.  But in the end, these are all important upgrades to facilities and infrastructure that will benefit current and future generations.  I call it progress.  I’d like to begin my presentation by summarizing these capital projects that have been so visible in our community.

First, let’s look at Phase I improvements at our Riverfront Park.  This 7-acre space sits between the downtown business district and the Great Miami River, and it’s one of the centerpieces of our ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown.  It has a covered stage for live entertainment and attracts thousands of people to special events during the year.  In 2016 the City began implementing a revised master plan for Riverfront Park designed to reduce the price tag and prioritize some achievable components in the near term.  Phase I upgraded the vehicle and pedestrian access into the park with a new entryway from West Central Avenue.  It features an access road, redesigned alleyways and a new walkway that includes brick pavers and landscaping.  The centerpiece is a pedestrian arch that’s a smaller version of the nearby traffic arch over Central Avenue entering downtown.  Finally, a restroom structure was installed near the stage, along with other amenities like drinking fountains and bike racks.  We’re making Riverfront Park as inviting as possible, and we’re very pleased with the project.  Phase I was funded by a $220,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and $130,000 in matching funds from the City.  Our staff is continuing to identify funding sources for the next planned phases, which will include additional roadway changes and new park features.  We’re very excited about the future of Riverfront Park and its role in our downtown success.

Second, was some work that was the direct result of resident input.  When the City conducted a strategic planning process in 2014, we commissioned a statistically valid telephone survey of our citizens.  One of the things that emerged in that survey was a desire for increased road maintenance in the community.  So when the City’s budget condition improved last year, Council moved forward to meet those needs.  Our annual paving program usually includes 12 to 15 streets, but in 2016 we dramatically increased that number to 32 streets.  It’s the most I can remember ever being repaved in one year, and I’m pleased that we could reinvest our revenues in a way that benefits so many taxpayers.  Going forward it’s unlikely the City can maintain that level, but our annual improvements will continue to be at a level the budget allows.  Of course, we also continue to replace sidewalk, curb and gutter in neighborhoods as part of our annual maintenance.  In late 2016 we also added new sidewalk and made other concrete improvements along the northwest corner of the State Route 725/Heincke Road intersection.  This project was designed to enhance pedestrian access and safety at this busy location, and a majority of the funding was provided by a Montgomery County block grant.

The third area of construction I want to review was a series of major projects to upgrade the City’s water and sewer infrastructure.  I’ve told you previously about our master plan to improve these systems at a total cost of about $69 million.  Well in 2016 construction was launched on the following components of that plan:

•    Rehab of the Richard Street storage tank with the addition of a larger water transmission line along Kercher Street.
•    Replacement of water and sewer lines along Riverview Avenue with the addition of a water booster station and large transmission lines.
•    Replacement of two wastewater pump stations
•    Improvements to the Water Treatment and Water Reclamation facilities.

We made real progress and actually completed several of these, but work on others will continue for another year or two.  We appreciate the patience of citizens and motorists during this process and apologize for the inconveniences that occur.  We’re trying to minimize the impact on the public as much as possible.  This is an ambitious and necessary set of projects that will modernize our infrastructure, accommodate future growth and make our systems viable for years to come.  It’s important to emphasize again that most of this work, which is being funded through user rates, is required for the City to meet EPA mandates.  From environmental and safety standpoints, we take our responsibility as a public utility very seriously.  These projects reflect that commitment.

The other public agencies that conducted very visible construction projects in our community were Miamisburg City Schools and the Dayton Metro Library system.  The school district built a new 5,400-seat athletic stadium called Holland Field.  This modern facility replaced historic Harmon Field as home of the Viking football and lacrosse teams and marching band, and it opened in September to rave reviews.  It’s a beautiful stadium located on the campus of Miamisburg High School with all the other athletic facilities.  There are some additional components still to come, but Holland Field is open for business and I want to congratulate the district on a successful project.  It has already become a showcase for the district and one of the gems of this community.

Meanwhile, Dayton Metro Library was busy at work constructing a brand new Miamisburg branch at the corner of Sixth Street and Linden Avenue.  Dayton Metro is in the midst of a system-wide upgrade of facilities, and we’re pleased that our community is included in that plan.  The new building is only about two blocks from the existing branch with ample parking located across the street on the former Wantz Middle School site.  This new branch is sure to be a community asset for many years to come, and we look forward to the grand opening in early 2017.

In the private sector, there were two significant projects launched last year in the active Austin Center commercial area.  First, was construction of a new flexible-use commercial building in the Austin Business Park on Byers Road.  This structure was completed near the end of the year and is the second at this location.  The first is fully leased, and we’re confident that the new one will be equally successful.  The Austin Park is just up the road from the Byers Business Park, which has been very successful.  Mark Fornes Realty and Construction Managers of Ohio have done a great job developing both these projects, and we’re confident they’ll continue to be attractive to the business community.

The second major commercial project in the Austin Center area began in August when United Grinding broke ground on a new corporate headquarters on property adjacent to Motoman Robotics.  United Grinding is an existing Miamisburg business that is a global leader in the grinding machine industry.  The company is investing $13 million in the new 105,000-square-foot facility and will consolidate its Virginia operation at this site.  Total employment will increase by 30-40 workers.  As part of the project incentives, the City of Miamisburg will construct an access road to the site in 2017 that stretches about a half-mile in length.  The cost will be approximately $4.5 million.  Importantly, it will not only benefit United Grinding but will open up 60-plus acres for future development.  This was a significant decision for the company to remain in our community as they considered various options.  We couldn’t be more pleased, and I’ll report back to you next year with an update on the project.

So you can see, I wasn’t exaggerating about the elevated level of construction taking place in Miamisburg last year.  From our local government to other public agencies to the private sector, the activity was heavy.  All this work I’ve described represents investment in the future, and it reflects positively on the vibrancy of our community.  As I’ve said many times, Great Things are Happening!  As some of the work continues in 2017, I want to repeat how much the City appreciates the patience of the public as we continue to put polish on the Star City.

One additional project I can preview for you in 2017 will be the replacement of the bridge on Gebhart Church Road just north of Maue Road.  This is a project being funded by the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program, which is replacing nearly 200 locally owned bridges across the state.  Gebhart Church was originally scheduled to be addressed last year but was delayed.  We expect work to now begin in the spring.  Engineers will also be doing design work this year for the future rehabilitation of another bridge in Miamisburg, this one located on Twelfth Street.  This project was selected in November to receive State Issue 2 funding that will cover about half the $320,000 price tag.  The City will provide matching funds for the remaining half, and construction could begin late this year.

The City’s financial condition is always part of my State of the City address.  I’m very pleased to report to you that our revenues exceeded projections in 2016 for the second consecutive year, and our budget is sound.  Income tax revenue increased approximately 7% over 2015 due to a general improvement in the economy.  The only immediate point of concern continues to be some adverse effects on local governments caused by actions at the state level.  We’ll monitor these effects going forward, and that’s one reason we continue to take a generally conservative approach to our budget.  It’s worth noting again this year that the City of Miamisburg has a strong record of fiscal responsibility and that our financial reporting is recognized regularly by the state auditor.

In the time we have remaining, I’d like to summarize a few other newsworthy items taking place in Miamisburg.

At the Mound Business Park, a company named GoKeyless purchased s building on Mound Road in December.  This firm manufactures keyless locks and access control systems and brings about 20 employees from Vandalia.  Our City is providing GoKeyless a $25,000 forgivable loan conditional on future income tax revenue targets.

Besides Riverfront Park, there were additional highlights downtown.  Because of investments from both the public and private sectors, downtown today looks much different than it did 2-to-3 decades ago.  In 2016 several new businesses opened, and all of them bring something unique to the district.  These included Bear Creek Donuts and Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop on Main Street.  Both have been very well-received by the public, which may show how much of a sweet tooth we have in Miamisburg.  Combined with the two existing ice cream shops located nearby, there are clearly some tempting reasons to visit downtown.  Fortunately, I guess, there’s also a fitness club and bicycle path nearby to help people work off those extra calories.  But, clearly, these new businesses have been very popular, and I want to congratulate the owners on their positive start.  The same goes for the Blue Note Bistro and Lounge on Central Avenue in the traffic circle.  Blue Note is our newest restaurant downtown and features a distinctive upper level bar and live entertainment.  It’s a unique addition to our variety of dining options in the historic district, and we’re very pleased to have them.

One of our strategies downtown is to build on the natural connection that exists with the bike trail that travels along the nearby river.  In 2014 over 20,000 passes were made at the Linden Avenue access point to the paved trail, making it one of the most-used locations in the entire regional trail system. That represents a lot of potential visitors downtown.  As a way of improving the safety for these bicyclists who stop, the City installed 31 of these street markings called “sharrows.”  The placement creates a business bike route, while clearly showing the preferred place to ride.  The sharrows also increase awareness for motorists about sharing the road.  Look for these the next time you’re downtown and always be on the lookout for bicycles when driving.

And speaking of bicycles, in one of the real highlights of the year a throng of over 1,500 cycling enthusiasts descended on Miamisburg last summer as part of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, or GOBA.  This annual event lasts about a week, and organizers work with several towns along their scheduled route each year to serve as overnight stops for the participants.  Our community was one of those stops with Miamisburg Middle School serving as their home base for two days.  I was amazed at the level of coordination that was required for this event.  Numerous local organizations, businesses and individuals came together to help accommodate the unique needs of these visitors and make them feel welcome here.  It was a great example of our community coming together on a project and putting our best foot forward.  The benefit we received was in terms of tourism dollars spent here in our City with the cyclists eating and shopping locally.  We also scheduled two evening concerts in Riverfront Park for their enjoyment.  By all accounts, GOBA officials were pleased with our efforts, and we hope someday they’ll choose to return.

Recreation is one of the keys to our revitalization efforts downtown, and the river and bike path are big parts of that.  Promoting these assets is something going on throughout the region.  In recognition of our efforts, the Great Miami River and related system was named a National Water Trail last year by the U.S. Department of the Interior.  This designation is bestowed on rivers with great public access and park amenities, and our local waterway is the first in Ohio to receive this honor.  Miamisburg and the entire Miami Valley can be proud of this achievement.

Pride in our community has never been a problem in Miamisburg.  It’s one of the things I like best about my hometown.  One of the ways people like to demonstrate pride is in the appearance of their property.  In 2016 the City of Miamisburg introduced a new pilot program to help our citizens improve the appearance of their homes.  This new program assists qualifying single-family homeowners with the costs of exterior house paint and supplies.  It was well-received, so we’ve set aside budget dollars again in 2017.  Certain income requirements apply, and funds are limited.  For more information on how to apply, call the City’s code enforcement office.

Helping people is the most rewarding aspect of being in local government.  Health and safety and quality of life are driving factors in many things that we do.  Unfortunately, sometimes the problems people face are immense and require complex solutions.  Such is the case with the addictions that have increased their hold on our nation in recent years.  City Council and I spent time last year learning about these addictions to prescription painkillers and heroin that are damaging our society.  And then to provide valuable information to our residents, the City hosted a community meeting at the Plaza Theatre in August.  This forum included the viewing of a documentary produced by the FBI and DEA and a panel discussion with representatives from agencies across the region who provided insights into the issue and outlined resources that are available to families and individuals.  Attendees also had an opportunity to ask questions of our panel.  If you didn’t attend the meeting, I encourage you to watch a video replay on this channel or online at mvcc.net.

Finally, I’d like to review for you some significant leadership changes that occurred last year on the City’s management team.  We have an outstanding professional staff in Miamisburg that is highly trained and dedicated to their jobs.  Employees in all our departments are people who do good every day and make a positive impact on our community. They serve our citizens well.  Stability among elected and appointed officials has been one of the keys to our success through the years as an organization.  But change is unavoidable at times, and it came at several key positions last summer.  It began with the retirements of Assistant City Manager Dody Bruck and Human Resources Director Kathy Weisgarber.  These two individuals had 19 and 30 years of service with the City, respectively, and were exceptional at their jobs.  While we hated to see them go, we wish them all the best in their well-earned retirements.  The City Manager took the following steps in response to these departures:

•    He named Tom Thompson, a captain in the Miamisburg Police Department, as the new Assistant City Manager.  Tom had a successful career in law enforcement and was highly respected as a leader on our staff.  We expect that success to continue on the administration side.

•    Emily Christian was also appointed as an Assistant City Manager.  Emily previously served as a public administrator in this region with the cities of Riverside and Huber Heights, and she’s been a welcome addition to our staff.

•    Leslie Kohli was named Human Resources Director, coming to Miamisburg from Springfield Township in northwest Ohio.  Leslie was Township administrator there for nine years and also oversaw the Human Resources and Development functions.  She is a proven leader and brings impressive credentials to our City.

Unrelated to these appointments, the city manager also filled a vacant department head position by naming Kelsey Whipp as Parks and Recreation Director.  Kelsey is a native of Miamisburg who previously worked for our City at the Aquatic Center and later as Recreation Coordinator.  After spending five years with the City of Kettering, we were very pleased to welcome her back and look forward to her leadership in Parks and Recreation.

Each of these individuals bring the skills and experience we need in these key management positions, and we’re pleased they chose to join our organization.

What a year it was!  And what a year we have ahead of us!  One of the things I’m really looking forward to is the preparation for our City’s Bicentennial coming up in 2018.  Many of my fellow citizens are working hard to make sure it’s a special year-long celebration of our community’s rich history.  There is much work to do,and we need your help.  Please consider joining us on the fourth Tuesday each month at 7 PM in our Council chamber…as we gather for planning.  There are going to be activities taking place throughout 2018, and there is no shortage of work to be done.  We want you to be involved.  I also encourage you to mark your calendars for the primary week of celebration, in which I hope our whole community will come together.  That’ll be June 16 - 23, 2018.  If you have any questions about the Bicentennial, send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it   Be sure to also "like" the new Facebook page “Miamisburg 200th” to stay informed.

My friends, Miamisburg is a special place with special people, and I hope you’ll agree that the state of our City is strong.  We’ll continue to polish our star so that the community shines and we achieve great things together.  Thank you for sharing these last few minutes with me, and thank you for allowing me to serve as mayor.  It is an honor and a privilege.  Joining me in public service is a City Council that shares my enthusiasm and commitment to the job.  The ability of Council members to work together for the good of the community, respect the charter, put politics aside and support the efforts of our staff have been critical to our achievements in my 25 years as mayor.  I know the public values and appreciates that approach.

That concludes my State of the City address for 2017.  As usual, I want to thank the fine staff at the Miami Valley Communications Council for helping develop this presentation for cable television.  Thanks for watching.  I’m Dick Church, Jr.  May God bless you and your family, and may God bless America.