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Agreement with Subdivision Developer Not Without Critics

Though there is an agreement between the developers of the new residential project known as Park Point, and the City of Park Hills, not everyone is happy about the agreement's contents.

Some of the concerns were expressed at the Park Hills city council caucus meeting this week.

Paul Zeltwanger, a partner at the firm Joshua One, which is developing Park Pointe, which will feature dozens of single family homes near the Park Hills-Covington border at the former site of Gateway Community & Technical College's automotive programs campus, also spoke to council.

Former city councilman Jason Reser questioned why the proposed pathway along Amsterdam Road was reduced to five or six feet rather than the previous eight as part of an effort to accommodate cyclists. Reser owns a bike shop in Newport and promotes cycling access in the region.

The new, smaller sidewalk design, he argued, would push cyclists on to the road since it is illegal to ride a bike on sidewalks in Kentucky. The originally design featured a larger pathway that would be multi-modal. The new road to Park Pointe would no longer be split, and the southbound side would be two-way, also to the detriment of cyclists, Reser argued.

The new 25-ft. road could accommodate cyclists, Reser said, but they may have to ride more slowly when traveling south up a hill, possibly angering motorists.

Reser said that there were two previous meetings in which the previous city council, of which he was a part, invited public comment on the pathway, and he believed all the feedback to be positive for the larger, original proposal.

Zeltwanger said that he also loves to cycle, but that when he met with residents, he learned that many prefer walking and privacy over the larger pathway.

"Maybe they don't love the bikers," Reser said, holding up his hands and adding that he didn't want to get in the middle of it. "I hope this isn't the divisive issue."

Following the meeting, two other former members of council, Mark Cooper and Greg Claypole argued that there were two sides to the bike path argument. Cooper showed drawings that he said demonstrated Reser's desire for a bike path through Park Hills along the former trolley line. Cooper said that residents near there do not want a bike path and never have. They have concerns about privacy, arguing that the path would come within forty feet of their back doors.
 
Cooper also said that safety was a concern. The hill, he said, is steep, which could lead to bike accidents.
 
Cooper maintained that he did not speak with Zeltwanger about altering the bike path plans, but said that many other residents did, leading to the smaller sidewalk in lieu of the bike path.
 
Zeltwanger also introduced Sean Blake, from Sanitation District 1, to explain the "spaghetti bowl" of pipes that would be tamed into fewer pipes, as well as the addition of a detention basic to catch storm water.
 
One resident, Joe Daugherty, questioned the design of the basin, which is expected to have a 20-ft. tall dam, with 33-percent grades on its side. He cited what he called the "bowl of weeds" at the detention basin near St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington, where landscaping had been added. He suggested a series of smaller ponds coming down the hill to disperse the water.
 
Blake, from SD1, said that the issue was studied at the proposed detention basin is the best way to go. He said that as long as the dam was under 25-ft. tall, the Army Corps of Engineers would be OK with it. Blake also said that in a 100-year rain event, the area could get six and a half inches of rain in a 24-hour period, but that the basin would be able to catch most of the water and slow it down.
 
The overflow, he said, would also be more regulated.

Council members Sarah Froelich and Pam Spoor asked whether the basin design were complete and final. Froelich wanted to know if there would be options for council to consider.

Zeltwanger said that the design is completed and is part of the agreement he signed along with Mayor Kathy Zembrodt. The basin, he said, would be constructed simultaneously with the homes and the new road.

Former mayor Matt Mattone also asked about a creek in the Amsterdam valley that is part of Willow Run, wanting to know whether the creek was considered jurisdictional water, or a water that flows to the Ohio River. Blake said that SD1 considered it to be an extension of the utility's own system of pipes, and that the Kentucky Division of Water agreed with that assessment.

Mattone further questioned whether the Army Corps or the Kentucky Heritage Council had looked into any historical significance of the creek, such as whether it crosses into Park Hills's historic district or the historic district in Lewisburg, an adjacent Covington neighborhood.

Blake said that he did not think so, adding that if it was decided that the creek were not part of the utility's system or if the creek were a certain length, a permit would be required.

Councilman Kevin Theissen said that he believed the creek to be about a hundred feet shorter than another creek that required mitigation by Zeltwanger.

Mattone said that Willow Run Creek is worthy of restoration, but if proven to be too costly, should at least be commemorated.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor