By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LEBANON - At a time when Warren County is trying to pinch pennies, at least two commissioners say it's unlikely they will be giving Middletown $5 million to relocate Middletown Regional Hospital.
The commissioners Tuesday discussed, but didn't vote on, Middletown's request for $1.3 million for the first two phases of the infrastructure project on Union Road near Ohio 122. It's part of the $5 million the county is asked to give over the next five years toward a $49 million project that includes a highway interchange improvement.
While Commissioner Larry Crisenbery was undecided about whether he would support a smaller amount, Commissioner Mike Kilburn was adamant that the county should not give anything. Commissioner Pat South was not at Tuesday's meeting.
"We told them we think that's not a good thing to do, and the city of Middletown crams it down our throat and then they sued us," Kilburn said of Middletown annexing the land east of I-75 from Franklin Township.
"That would be a total sell-out to our constituents to give them $5 million for that road. They wanted it. They annexed it. They screwed it up. And they can pay for it. Period."
In the last 15 years, the city also has annexed Towne Mall and all the businesses on both sides of the I-75/Ohio 122 interchange.
The roads need to be widened and improved to handle the traffic from the hospital and future residents in the area, according to a letter from Middletown Mayor David Shiavone. Middletown officials couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
"We're in cost containment," Crisenbery said Tuesday. "I'm willing to help, but nothing close to that $5 million."
Franklin Township resident Bobby Jay argued the county should not help at all. He says the hospital's relocation will only force residents on the west side of Middletown and nearby communities like Trenton to drive farther to get care.
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