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Ludlow, Covington to Jointly Improve Old Incinerator in Park

Ludlow City Council voted to approve an inter-local agreement with the City of Covington to form a coalition to oversee the process of rehabbing and fortifying the old trash incinerator building in Devou Park.   

The two cities and the Devou Park Board are interested in improving the site for the trail system and to improve the safety of its visitors. 

The City of Ludlow seeks to lower the insurance cost the dilapidated structure requiring a partnership with Covington to help defray some of that cost, explained Ludlow City Attorney Jeff Otis.

“My biggest concern is that the incinerator was costing the City of Ludlow money for higher insurance premiums and it’s an attractive nuisance, it’s an eyesore and something needs to be done with it,” City Councilman Tom Amann said.

Pending approval by the City of Covington, the cities would form a board consisting of each mayor and an additional appointment chosen by the mayor. Both cities will pay $500 a year that will be used towards the property. This money serves as an assurance that both parties invest in the project. An additional $25,000 has been earmarked for the project by the Devou Park Board for several years.

Amann was apprehensive to form a board that oversees the project.

”I want to cooperate with the City of Covington and be a good neighbor,” he said.  “I’m not sure that we need another board. Covington has a recreational board. Ludlow has a parks board and I don’t know that we need another board to take care of this area.”

Councilman Bill Mullins had issue that the board is to be a four-member panel which would lead to an automatic deadlock should the cities disagree on future issues.

In the special city council meeting Thursday, two clauses in the agreement were debated before the group could come to a vote. One clause states that the beneficiary of a grant would be responsible for indirect costs. The other stated that the beneficiary would be responsible for the match. Ludlow City Administrator Elishia Chamberlain said that these terms are typical of any grant award. If a city applies for grant funding and there is a match requirement, the city will provide that match either monetarily of through in-kind contribution. Indirect costs are also a responsibility of each city.

Amann expressed concern that Ludlow might be deemed the beneficiary of most if not all of the indirect costs associated with the grants, but Otis and Chamberlain assured him that if either side is unable to come to an agreement on the grant, the application for the grant would not be submitted.

Ludlow is concerned about the potential liability cost that the building poses from individuals being hurt when they encounter the incinerator on the trails. The city does not want to sell the property there, though, because of the financial potential for future development there.

“Something has to be done to the structure that lowers the insurance cost and joining into this partnership agreement defrays a lot that cost. I have to commend Elishia Chamberlain and the mayor for getting this agreement done. I think it’s an outstanding agreement. We’re not responsible for 100 percent of the fees and neither is Covington. We still have the property for future development,” Otis said.

The incinerator is on a 7-acre property and is in serious disrepair with significant structural damages to the walls and roof. The 50-foot smokestack, however, remains intact and is in decent condition.

“We do own this property that is unfortunately very unsightly and very hazardous and also happens to be the trail head to Devou Trails which is getting a lot of attention.  The public trail will serve as a driver for us, especially when we open up Riverfront Commons,” Chamberlain said, referencing the recreational trail system being developed along the Ohio River from Ludlow to Ft. Thomas.

The deal is not final until Covington agrees as well, though Ludlow city officials are confident that Covington is eager to finalize the agreement as well. 

The incinerator was the target of acquisition by the City of Covington in January, 2014 but Ludlow opted instead to open up the sale to any interested parties. Why the transaction has been delayed for 18 months was not made clear by city officials.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Incinerator in Devou Park (RCN file)