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With Reluctance, Kenton Co. Will Help Lakeside Park Construct Sidewalk

There will be a new sidewalk installed along Turkeyfoot Road in Lakeside Park after the Kenton County Fiscal Court, with some reluctance and one "no" vote, decided to assist the city.

Mayor David Jansing explained at Tuesday night's Fiscal Court meeting in Covington that State Rep. Diane St. Onge (R-Lakeside Park) had secured a grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky that would fund 80% of the costs to install a new sidewalk along Turkeyfoot Road between Farmington Drive and I-275, the only part of Turkeyfoot that lacks sidewalks, Jansing said.

The grant would require the remaining 20% to be covered by the local government and according to Jansing, the previous Fiscal Court was amenable to covering 10% while Lakeside Park would cover the other 10%.

An engineer working with the city estimated the cost of the sidewalk project to be around $175,000. Kenton County would cover $17,500, the City of Lakeside Park would cover $17,500, and the grant would cover the rest. "There is a number of runners and walkers there and the last thing I want to see is what happened on Weaver Road two weeks ago," Jansing said, referencing a tragedy in Florence where a grandfather and two 1-year old siblings were killed while walking together. "This is the only part of Turkeyfoot that doesn't have a sidewalk and we'd just like to finish it because it is truly a safety issue."

County Commissioners Beth Sewell and Joe Nienaber expressed concern about a precedent that may be set by agreeing to share the local costs of state transportation grants. County Administrator Joe Shriver pointed out that the county has in the past assisted cities with projects like trails in Ft. Wright and Covington.

"Those have been wonderful opportunities," Sewell said. "Typically they have regional impact or county impact, so I just caution us, I guess, as we move forward with this because of the abundance of grants for cities that might see this as an opportunity. The City of Covington just raised taxes to pay for sidewalks, so I'm hesitant. I just have that caution." Sewell cast the lone vote opposing the decision to assist Lakeside Park.

When asked by Nienaber, Jansing said that Lakeside Park could cover the entire cost of the Turkeyfoot project but would have to alter plans for other streets that had previously been committed this year. 

"I'm afraid of the precedent we're going to be getting involved in," Nienaber said. 

This part of Turkeyfoot Road is owned by the Commonwealth. "If this were a city-owned street, I wouldn't be here," Jansing told the Fiscal Court. 

Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann said that moving forward, the county could perhaps establish a pool of money specifically aimed at assisting cities in fulfilling state matching grants for transportation projects. "I've been supportive of helping this since the beginning," he said. Knochelmann and Jansing also said that a previous verbal commitment from the county to add 10% of the project's cost gave the grant proposal the necessary leverage for approval.

"I think that's where (St. Onge) had a leg up in Frankfort, in the partnership with the county and the city," Jansing said.

While Sewell voted against the expenditure, Nienaber joined Knochelmann and Commissioner Jon Draud in approving it. 
"My preference is on the front end of these things that cities not plan on getting the money," Nienaber said. "I feel like, if we give them a wink wink, nod nod that they're going to get it, it may encourage cities that can't do the 20% to pursue it and a different fiscal court comes in and says no."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Note: This meeting was viewed by the reporter on television and not attended in person
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