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New Middletown seeks funds for building

Officials in New Middletown have their sights set on a new community center. To purchase the building and make some renovations, they’re asking Harrison County for as much as $225,000.
The property is a former doctor’s office building that the town rents to have its town council meetings. The property owners want to sell the building by the early part of 2020.

According to Chelsea Crump, a charitable financial specialist with River Hills Economic Development District and Regional Planning Commission, the town has already been denied grants through the Indiana Office of Community Rural Affairs and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

During Monday night’s Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting, Crump and New Middletown Town Council President Fred Lawson Jr. asked the county for financial assistance to make the purchase.

“Our old town hall, which was the old firehouse, was built back in the ’50s,” Lawson said. “It has no running water, no bathroom facilities, no anything. It’s not handicap accessible like it should be.”

If the town can’t come up with the funds, town business would move back into the old town hall. Lawson said the town owns the building but not the property it sits on and can’t make renovations or expand on the land.

After a doctor closed her practice, the town started renting space for its meetings. Lawson said it meets all the town’s needs and could make a good community center.

“It’s all chopped up into little offices,” Lawson said. “It needs to be opened up.”

The building was appraised for $120,000. Renovations to open up floor space is estimated at $110,000.

“It’s probably not going to cost $120,000 because every rent payment that they make is going toward the purchase,” Crump said. “So, the owner said they are going to knock off what they’ve paid for in rent.”

Grant administration fees made the grant requests higher than what the town is asking from the county.

The town told the commissioners it would make a 10% match if it receives the funds.

“This is the first evening I’ve heard about this,” said Commissioner Charlie Crawford, who added he wanted more time to decide if the request should advance to the Harrison County Council.
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper made the motion to take the request under advisement, which passed unanimously.

“Consider other options on how to get it paid for,” he said.

The commissioners said they would try to come up with a decision at their next meeting, set for Monday, Nov. 4, at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.

In other county business, representatives from Paul Primavera and Associates and Shireman Construction said they had the design work for the Harrison County Court House in downtown Corydon ready to go to bid. The commissioners approved the request.

It’s the second design work completed. Earlier this month, bids started getting accepted for renovations to the Harrison County Health and Education Building in south Corydon.