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The Center Story: Celebrating Six Years of the Latonia Small Area Study

The Center Story is a monthly podcast presented in partnership by the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington and The River City News

2016 year marks the sixth year of the Latonia Small Area Study, a comprehensive study of the Latonia neighborhood approved by the City of Covington and Kenton County in 2010. The study sought to find ways to best serve the needs of the Latonia community and visitors by honoring the area’s past as it builds the future.

Since 2010 The Latonia Small Area Strategic Action Committee (SAC), a dedicated group of Latonia residents joined by representatives from the City of Covington, The Center for Great Neighborhoods (The Center), and Planning and Development Services of Kenton County, have met monthly to continue strengthening and building upon unique qualities of Latonia, such as its strong sense of community, the historic Ritte’s Corner business district, and the charming, affordable historic homes, churches, and schools.  

Listen to this month's episode of The Center Story - a look at Latonia's opportunities & more:

Many entities, including the SAC, the City of Covington, Latonia Elementary School, the Latonia Community Council (LCC), the Latonia Business Association (LBA), and The Center have united to accomplish several of the recommendations made in the Latonia Small Area Study. The accomplishments include:

Housing Highlights

  • “Ritte's East Latonia” was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, through the efforts of The Center, the SAC, and the City of Covington. This year, the SAC and The Center received a grant from the Kentucky Board Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to promote use of homeowner historic tax credits and other merits of the historic district designation.

  • In June of 2014, “Paint the Town” volunteers painted 37 houses in Latonia, thanks to outreach and work performed by The Center in conjunction with the SAC. “Paint the Town” chooses one community each year for its services.

  • The SAC and The Center facilitated the use of a façade improvement program from the City of Covington that targeted certain sections of Latonia’s west side. Approximately 15 homes made façade improvements as a result.  

  • The SAC worked with an Eagle Scout candidate to create a video called “Latonia, Everybody’s Neighborhood.” The video features various parts of Latonia and interviews with homeowners about why they chose to live there. 

  • The SAC, with the help of The Center, held a series of “Lunch and Learn” events for realtors to introduce them to what Latonia has to offer.

Transportation / Accessibility Highlights

  • The City of Covington replaced and repaired sidewalks and added curb cuts to improve accessibility across Latonia. The City also did extensive repair work on the Caroline Street underpass, and resurfaced Latonia Avenue.

  • The SAC collaborated with the City of Covington, Holy Cross School and area residents to transition the school’s block of Church Street to one-way to improve safety of its students.

  • The City of Covington has approved a traffic study for to further understand the need and feasibility of a road diet for Winston Avenue once school is back in session and normal traffic patterns resume.

Beautification Highlights

  • The Center awarded LCC and SAC with a Place Matters mini-grant “Color at Ritte’s Corner”, to beautify the Ritte’s Corner area. Neighborhood volunteers planted numerous large planters under the volunteer guidance of Jackson Florist. Members of LCC and business owners have adopted the planters for maintenance.

  • Latonia continues to participate in the annual Great American Cleanup. In 2016, Latonia residents focused on beautifying the parking lot on 36th street.

  • The SAC and The Center arranged for volunteers from Deloitte to repaint the antique iron fence at the Korean War Memorial at Ritte’s Corner.

  • The City facilitated the removal of a utility pole in front of the Korean War Memorial. The pole was a visual obstruction and caused large trucks to swing wide into other lanes in order to miss it.

  • The City of Covington led efforts to remove the an abandoned gas station at 32nd & Decoursey Ave by requesting that Marathon demolish and clean up the site, making it more appealing for the community.

Recreation Highlights

  • Latonia Cardinals 360 Community Park, located at Latonia Elementary School now offers free recreational opportunities for families. It includes a tot lot, elementary-age playground, and fitness equipment for adults. This effort was spearheaded by Latonia Elementary, with help from The Center, Covington Partners, Children’s Inc., the Northern Kentucky Health Department, The City of Covington, and Fuel Up To Play 60. Contributions from the community included funding and volunteer work at the site.  

  • On October 24, the SAC held the 4th Annual Latonia 5k Race. The race was held on the same day as the LBA’s Halloween Block Party, so the theme was “Return of the R-Undead.” The race took several routes through Latonia to showcase different parts of the neighborhood. The 5k was supported by The Center’s Place Matters mini-grants and the LBA. All money raised went back into the community for future recreational opportunities in Latonia.

  • The LCC and the SAC received a Place Matters mini-grant for  “Latonia Fellowship and Fu,” a series of events that celebrate Latonia and build community. The series included coordinating with the City for two free movie nights, an ice cream social with a gypsy jazz band and other family-friendly events.

  • Neighborhood volunteer-led improvements were made at the park at 30th and Decoursey, and at Barb Cook Park that included new benches, removal of brush, mulching and tree planting.

Among the SAC’s Future Goals are the redevelopment of the Latonia Plaza Shopping Center, realization of a Healthy Living Center, and the Winston Avenue “Road Diet” for calming traffic. To view the Latonia Small Area Study in its entirety, click here.  The SAC meets every 4th Thursday of the month at 6:00pm at Latonia Christian Church. Questions should be directed to Kate Esarey Greene by phone (859) 547-5552 or email [email protected].

-Staff report

Photo: Ritte's Corner (RCN file)