City Leaders Tour Covington's Neighborhoods
Over the weekend, the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative invited city commissioners and the city manager to tour various neighborhoods around town and to see first-hand what some of the concerns are for residents. Mayor Chuck Scheper and City Commissioners Sherry Carran, Steve Casper, and Steve Frank attended along with City Manager Larry Klein, who noted during a stop in Mainstrasse that he sees pockets of good activity and that people are starting to invest money in Covington again.
The Saturday tour started with breakfast in Helentown then weaved through Austinburg, West Latonia, the Westside, Mainstrasse Village, Lewisburg, and then Licking Riverside. "It's amazing how much you can see in a twenty-minute tour of a neighborhood," said Bill Wells, chair of the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative. "It's one thing to hear about a concern, but when you see it first-hand, it cannot be ignored." Wells thanked the Helentown and Licking Riverside neighborhood associations for providing breakfast and lunch. Covington Latin School provided the bus for the tour.
Part of the tour led those in attendance down troubled Perry Street in Mainstrasse Village, a very small strip of road but one that has become a hub of drug activity according to residents, further weighed down by some vacant blighted properties. In contrast to that aspect, however, the tour went inside a home on the street that has just undergone a complete renovation. Concerns were also raised after walking down the unpaved alley between Perry and Bakewell Streets which was full of litter, graffiti, crumbled backyard walls, and remnants of drug use.
One of the steady themes through the tour was the issue of housing. “We started off in Helentown, a neighborhood that has amazing housing stock, but we learned that only twenty-five percent of that housing is owner occupied," said Commissioner Sherry Carran. "Some of the rental is good rental with excellent tenants, but too much of the rental is bringing down the neighborhood because of poor property maintenance and bad tenant behavior. The Helentown neighborhood has been working to change this by lobbying for city ordinances that address vacant properties, rental inspections and improved code enforcement.”
Carran continued, “One of the positive highlights of the CNC Tour was to stop by the trail head of the Lewisburg Trail to Devou Park that has been built with the help of a Place Matters Grant and lots of volunteer help. The Lewisburg Neighborhood Group, with the help of Chad Irey, a Lewisburg resident, has built a hiking and mountain bike trail starting at the base of Montague Rd. The trail will eventually connect to the mountain bike trails on the west side of Sleepy Hollow Rd. Working together and creating something special that has strengthened the ‘sense of place’ in Lewisburg.”
PHOTO: City leaders make their way down troubled Perry Street in Mainstrasse Village/RCN