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"Landmark Projects" Get Greenlight in Covington & Other City Commission Notes

The Covington City Commission gave the greenlight to two "landmark projects" Tuesday night in addition to authorizing resident-only parking in Mainstrasse Village during this weekend's Oktoberfest. 

"These are important, these are investments in the city, these are investments in the quality of life," said City Manager Larry Klein, calling the paving of three-quarters of a mile the Licking River Greenway & Trails and the landscaping of the newly redesigned Martin Luther King Boulevard landmark projects. "This is a proud moment for Covington. "It's coming off the drawing board and on to the ground." 

The landscaping project will be one of the final touches on the redevelopment of Martin Luther King Boulevard, formerly known as Twelfth Street. Despite boasting the presence of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption at one end and the historic Bavarian Brewery Building at the other along its path. the state-owned connector that brings Interstate 75 to Newport has spent several years in transition. Many houses and other structures were razed or , in a few cases, moved and a second bridge over the railroad tracks below was added during its widening. Now the brick-paved intersections are illuminated by new, attractive street lights, part of a dramatic strip of road that in the fall will see its lackluster median lit up from the ground with new trees, plans, and flowers. 

"It's been a slow process but a good process," said City Commissioner Sherry Carran, who serves on one of the committees spearheading the project. Unsure of where the funding would come from, the committee welcomed State Rep. Arnold Simpson to one of its meetings and he then searched for and found a state grant to cover the cost. Carran explained that the median will feature trees (though not large shade trees as they must be "break-away"), a clear irrigation system, and lights whose colors can be changed seasonally. The City's staff will begin work to develop construction documents for the project on which companies will bid to perform the work.

Across town, near Holmes High School, a long-awaited paving project will begin on the Licking River Greenway & Trails. Phase I will cost $177,285 to pave three-quarters of a mile of the trail which when combined with the one mile of gravel trail, according to recreation director Natalie Gardner, will offer users nearly two miles of comfortable path. Mayor Chuck Scheper sees the work, which will be performed by Alexandria-based Bray Construction, as playing a bigger role in the community. "This is truly an opportunity for economic development," Scheper said. "Green space is an important aspect of recruiting residents and businesses into our area. This is an important step."

A state grant worth $80,000, a $30,000 contribution from the Durr Foundation, a $20,000 donation from former City Commissioner Jerry Stricker, and $47,285 from the City's community development block grant funds will pay for the paving.

​Resident only parking for part of Mainstrasse Village during Oktoberfest

​City Commissioner Shawn Masters made a sudden motion to pass a resolution toward the end of Tuesday night's meeting that would afford residents of Greer and Willard Streets between Seventh and Ninth Streets resident-only parking during this weekend's Oktoberfest festival. The three-day long event traditionally creates a loss of parking inventory on neighborhood streets, a fact long-bemoaned by residents. The issue did not appear on the meeting's agenda but was brought up after most of the meeting's business had been completed and commissioners were making their final comments. The issue passed unanimously without comment.

​The Arts District is gone for good

The zoning language that created Covington's once-lauded effort to host an Arts District was removed from the city's code Tuesday night. Passing unanimously without comment, the areas along Pike Street between Madison Avenue and Main Street were entirely returned to the central or commercial business district. Created in 2005 with much fanfare including an award from the Governor, Covington's ill-fated Arts District never materialized and the new zoning will be less restrictive for possible business locations and residential development.

Other notes:

-The Covington Fire Department raised $18,000 over the Labor Day weekend for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The funds will help send twenty kids to summer camp and help support other programs. Mayor Scheper presented a proclamation declaring the day for the firefighters and the MDA.

-Acting Fire Chief Dan Mathew was to speak about proposed budget cuts to the fire department but that presentation has been rescheduled. A second presentation that was also scheduled for Tuesday about the Covington Re-Use Center will take place another time.

-Rebecca Volpe formally resigned her position as the City's business retention and recruitment specialist to take a job as director of the Small Business Development Center at Northern Kentucky University. "There has never been a day that I didn't wake up excited to come to Covington to do what I feel was put on Earth to do, work in community and economic development," Volpe said. "I will continue to support Covington in any way I can." Volpe hinted at "exciting things in the pipeline".

-City Commissioner Steve Casper visited Owensboro as that city unveiled its newly redeveloped riverfront. Casper hopes for similar success in Covington and will be meeting with a representative from Senator Mitch McConnell's office Wednesday. More on this story tomorrow.