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Trails Project Moves Forward with 3-2 Vote & Other Notes from Covington City Hall

This is your comprehensive recap of the goings-on at Covington City Hall and the most recent city commission meeting held on Tuesday, June 11. Previous stories from the meeting include: A New Downtown Covington is Closer to Reality and Covington Commission Split on Part-Time Employee's Appointment, Salary.

Licking River Greenway & Trails to Move On to Second Phase

The next phase of the Licking River Greenway & Trails won approval from the Covington City Commission on Tuesday night but the vote was not unanimous.

The City will enter into a contract with Bayer Becker, Inc for design and engineering services for phase two of the paved levee trails in an amount not to exceed $40,000. The money comes from federal community development block grants.

Bayer Becker conducted the work and design for phase one of the project. According to official city documents, the contract will allow Covington to continue its efforts to provide a pedestrian/biking transportation link for residents, to connect neighborhoods, and to capitalize on one of the city's greatest natural assets, the Licking River.

According to Natalie Gardner, programs and strategic projects director, the City is applying for another recreational trails grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky this year and the work to be done by Bayer Becker will enable those grant proceeds to be used for trail construction.

"We want to be ready as quickly as we can," Gardner said.

When the time came to vote on the contract, City Commissioners Mildred Rains and Michelle Williams opposed it.

"I think it's important that we focus on streets and sidewalks," Williams said, a comment that baffled City Manager Larry Klein who spent the previous city commission meeting and multiple special presentations outlining the City's plan to invest more than $32 million in sidewalk and road work over the next five years

"I'll point out that this greenway is another form of transportation," Klein said.

Mayor Sherry Carran, who voted to approve the contract along with City Commissioner Chuck Eilerman and Steve Frank, said the project is an important component to bring young families back to the urban core and that outdoor recreational activities like those offered by the trails is part of the regional Vision 2015's urban renaissance plan.

Latonia Streets Set for Reconstruction

Long-desired repairs to important roads in Latonia are on the way. The city commission unanimously approved an agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and a contract with Eaton Asphalt to reconstruct Latonia Avenue from Madison Avenue to Southern Avenue as well as reconstruct Southern Avenue from Latonia Avenue to Grace Avenue.

The cost of the project is expected to be $947,126.14 of which $694,676.40 will be reimbursed to the City by KYTC and the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI). $160,000 will come from the federal community development block grant funds and the remainder will paid from through the City's capital improvement fund.

City Engineer Mike Yeager said he expects work to begin within a month with construction completed by the end of the year. The project is "much overdue," he said.

City Manager Klein said the reconstruction of these roads was not on the City's radar due to financial constraints but money from the federal government and OKI pushed it to the front burner.

Other notes:

  • Police Department recognized for drug sweep. A resolution passed by the city commission honored the Covington Police Department for its work in identifying more than forty suspected drug traffickers and arresting more than half so far. "We're hopeful that we're about to provide safer neighborhoods that our children can plan in and a community that our businesses can thrive in," said Chief Spike Jones. Commissioner Mildred Rains said, "I dare say we have the best police department in the state."
  • New firehouse for Botany Hills delayed again. The city commission voted to delay plans for a new firehouse in Botany Hills/West Covington. Funding for the new firehouse was secured by State Rep. Arnold Simpson in 2007 in an amount of $300,000. The vote extends an agrement with the Department for Local Government through June 30, 2014 while the City figures out what to do about the project. The funding has been postponed each year since the money was secured.
  • Promotions in fire department. Glenn J.R. Johnson was promoted to assistant chief in the Covington Fire Department at an annual salary of $82,287. He previously served as a batallion chief. Chris Black was appointed Battalion Chief at an annual salary of $72,464. Michael Bischoff retired from the fire department as an engineer, having served the City since 1993.
  • Michelle Sherrill was reappointed to the Housing Authority of Covington Board of Commissioners for a term that runs to June 1, 2017.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Covington City Commission meets Tuesday/RCN