Covington: Downtown WiFi, Devou Park Bikes, Latonia Street Improvements on Way
At its caucus meeting Tuesday night, the Covington city commission got a preview of the public WiFi project coming to downtown, the improvements planned for Devou Park, and the forthcoming repairs to streets in Latonia.
Renaissance Covington presented details about the WiFi project which should be installed in partnership with Cincinnati Bell by May. The free WiFi hotspots will be found at downtown parking garages, providing access across the renaissance district.
Users connecting to the WiFi will have to sign in each time they connect and will receive ads from local business and updates on what is happening around the city.
The program will allow the City of Covington and Renaissance Covington to collect data on the users, and to track the demographics and foot traffic patterns, similar to the free WiFi offered in Newport.
Renaissance Covington intends to use the data to help businesses better market themselves to the public.
Latonia Avenue project moving forward
The commission will move forward with the Latonia Avenue project at a budget of $725,000. Riegler Construction, who the city has worked with several times before, was awarded the project with the lowest bid.
Sanitation District 1 will reimburse the city nearly $70,000 of the expenses because of the storm and sewer work that has to be completed under the street as part of the project.
Concerns were raised by the commission over the 10 percent contingency payment in the contract, which totals just under $70,000 of the cost.
Mayor Joe Meyer asked why it needed to be included in the contract instead of public works coming back later and asking for the additional funds if they are needed.
City Manager David Johnston said that it is widely accepted that public works contracts are created this way because if they end up needing the funds it could halt construction for up to two weeks while they go back to council for approval.
“Because of the need to move forward with the project… that’s the practice public works has always followed,” Johnston said.
The commission asked to be updated on the final costs of the project and moved it to next week’s consent agenda where it will be formally voted upon.
Improvements coming to Devou Park
Devou Properties Inc. and Devou Properties Advisory Committee were also present at the meeting to present to the commission a proposed plan for the 2018-19 budget.
Barbara Drees Jones, chair of the Devou Properties Inc. board, which oversees Drees Pavilion, said the boards had met last month to determine how to best spend the $400,000 budget. A portion of the money earned at Drees Pavilion is reinvested in the park each year.
With a 10-year commitment to paying off the new golf and event center, half the budget will go towards that, with the other half covering multiple projects, including a long-planned realignment of Prisoner’s Lake Road.
Jones said that the project will cost a total of $360,500, with $139,000 being set aside in 2016 and another $75,000 from 2017.
“This is a project that we have discussed in the past, but we needed the money for it,” Jones said.
Part of the budget will also go towards creating a bike rental program that will run out of the golf center. The total cost of the program will be $57,360, but half of the funds will be provided by The Devou Good Project.
The project will include purchasing 50 bikes that will be available for rent, racks, locks, helmets, parts, signage, tools and rental kiosks.
A final $15,000 will be set aside for capital reserve, which is done every year for maintenance issues that may arise throughout the year.
Written by Carrie Crotzer, RCN contributor