By James Nani
MIDDLETOWN -- The growing list of big ticket projects on Middletown's plate took center stage Tuesday night during Mayor Joe DeStefano's State of the City address.
Speaking in the city's Common Council chambers at City Hall to a standing-room only crowd, DeStefano, who's up for reelection this year, touched on just about every aspect of city life in his speech, pointing to accomplishments from 2016 while looking ahead to the rest of 2017.
One of the biggest projects continuing from last year is the city's $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant. DeStefano said money from the grant to upgrade building facades downtown could transform the look of the city.
Coming up this year, DeStefano said the city plans to present options to the Common Council in about a month of whether to privatize the city's sanitation service. They'll also look to replace the fire department's ladder and pumper trucks.
Revenue from water and sewer also looked rosy. DeStefano said the city hopes to begin collecting revenue late this year from selling gray water to the CPV energy plant in Wawayanda. They're also looking ahead to supplying water and sewer to the Amy's Kitchen project in Goshen, with an annual revenue estimated to be $800,000.
DeStefano recommended that revenue from CPV and Amy's Kitchen be dedicated to a capital infrastructure fund for water and sewer projects, where future costs are already estimated at more than $9 million.
Highlights from 2016 include the city's sale of the Flanagan building for $1.1 million, the continued redevelopment of the former Middletown Psychiatric Center, a drop in serious crime of about 6 percent from the year before and an agreement with Orange County to use the waters of the Indigot Creek.
The mayor also highlighted the city's investment in its recreation department, a $2 million budget in a city of about 28,000.
"In the area of recreation our city is second to none in the Hudson Valley," DeStefano said.
Despite the good things, challenges remain. The mayor said while the collection of waste from the Sanitation Department decreased about 3.3 percent last year, recycling participation dropped by 8.3 percent.
"That continues to be unacceptable," DeStefano said.
And despite $60 million worth in investments over the last 10 years, the city's infrastructure continued to show its age. DeStefano said there were 33 water main breaks last year, up from 20 the year before.
"These breaks are an indication of an aging system," DeStefano said.