In Bellevue, the State of the City is Strong, Mayor Says
The City of Bellevue is in good shape, Mayor Ed Riehl said in a state of the city address last week.
Riehl used part of Wednesday's city council meeting for the annual task of explaining where the city is and where it's going.
"Like our logo states, Preserving Our Past and Preparing for Our Future, we must continue to strive for these two key points," said the mayor, in the second year of his second 4-year term. On preserving the assets in the community, Riehl pointed to the success of Fairfield Avenue as an entertainment and shopping district. "It is what attracts people to work, shop, play, and purchase housing to call home," he said. Meanwhile, there is work underway to stretch that success further east on Fairfield, including redevelopment of the landmark Marianne Theater, which is expected to become a brewery.
"Work continues with Hardman Group to redevelop the Marianne Theater into a viable economic driver for these blocks. Engineering is underway to finally construct a 30-plus parking space in the 100 block of Taylor to increase parking for our business district and we continue to research ways to add more," the mayor said. "A conversation and study is underway to address the Route 8 corridor not only in Bellevue but Dayton to the easy and Newport to the west with other stakeholders at the discussion table."
Riehl noted that Bellevue's housing stock is strong - a point backed up by Councilman and real estate agent Steve Guidugli who noted that young buyers are scooping up properties at prices above $200,000 regularly. "This shows," Riehl said, "that our incentive programs we have in place, rental conversion, off-street parking, and good historic preservation practices all are working to add value to our town." More housing is on the way to the development on Ross Avenue and another project by Ashley Residential is slated to begin on Fuhrman Avenue.
"But, as always, there is work to be done," the mayor said. That work includes continued exploration of the benefits of so-called land banks, the process by which governments put parcels of land together for future sale, and the addressing of troubled and problem properties in the city. "We need to work to get these distressed properties into the hands of renovators to make them tax-generating assets in Bellevue."
The mayor pointed to planned infrastructure and city services improvements like the new fire truck coming to the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department. Covert Run's new storm water management project and the reconstruction of Lincoln Road are evidence of strengthened partnerships with other entities like Sanitation District 1, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and Duke Energy, he said.
Upgrades are also planned for the city parks. "We continue to hear from our citizens on how to improve on our recreation needs and work to accomplish their goals," Riehl said. Engineering is underway to control the erosion along the river at Thomas J. Wiethorn Memorial Park and to create the pathway for Riverfront Commons, the riverfront recreational trail that will stretch across Northern Kentucky's River Cities.
The city will also continue to foster a strong relationship with Bellevue Independent Schools, he said. "Our school system is a vital piece of the puzzle that makes up Bellevue's big picture," Riehl said.
The mayor also touched on some decisions at the city building that became controversial during council meeting, such as the placement of a Red Bike station with plans for a second one to connect the city to Cincinnati's bike-share program. "Preparing for the future, we must develop a community that is walkable, bike-friendly, and is engaged about its future," Riehl said. "We must continue to research, support, and activate initiatives that will guarantee community growth in our future, some of which we have already taken steps to achieve, like planning for Riverfront Commons and bringing Red Bike to Northern Kentucky. This will make Bellevue a pedestrian bike-friendly place to visit and call home. These sometimes tough and controversial decisions we make today not only impact Bellevue today but truly set the stage for a sustainable Bellevue for the future."
Looking towards the future is what city council has done, the mayor said, when it explored and/or approved initiatives like tax increment financing (TIF) districts, energy incentives (EPAD), and to push for appropriate developments along the riverfront.
"All of us working together can and will make Bellevue the great place we call our home," Riehl said.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Mayor Ed Riehl (center) completes his state of the city address (RCN)