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Residents, City Not in Agreement on New Sidewalk Plans

Several residents from Aberdeen Avenue came to the Park Hills city council meeting on Monday night to protest the plans to put a sidewalk on their street. Bob Johnson stood up to tell council that most of the people who had come to the meeting from Aberdeen did not want the sidewalk to be constructed on their street. He said since the street was wider and it was no longer a two way street, he did not think a sidewalk was necessary.

"I am losing six feet of my property if it goes in," said Johnson. "What I'm here for is to ask if removing the sidewalk from the project is possible or has it gone too far?"

As it turns out, City Engineer Jay Bayer explained that because the water line is up to 20 feet off at the location, and the gas lines are also looking like they are going to be a problem, they were thinking about putting the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Bayer said he was going to talk to the mayor and council about switching the proposed sidewalk. He told council he was supposed to open the bids from the construction companies, but he thought if he did, there would have to be change orders. Becker said the city might want to rebid the whole thing, to give the companies a week to two to get their bids together and then have the bid opening on June 27.

"I can't say I don't care now," Johnson said when he listened to the new plan of putting the sidewalk on the other side of the street. "I just don't think the sidewalk is all that necessary."

"The city has an option to improve things and provide safe pathways," said Mayor Matt Mattone. "There is a level of discomfort with any change. We have carefully and deliberately thought about this, not with any ill will."

Ultimately it was decided to hold another meeting about the project, since the side of the road would probably change, but Bayer said it had to be soon to give the construction companies time to get their bids together and so the city didn't lose time on the project. The meeting was set for Tuesday, June 21 at 7 p.m.

Karl Oberjohn, another resident of Aberdeen, came to talk to council about his support for a trail that could accomodate bicycles. He said he likes to go to work on his bicycle, which was okay when he worked four miles away in Crescent Springs, but now that he works in Florence he finds it very difficult. He gave a history of bicycling in the city and said it would be a boon and could increase property values. After his speech two other residents echoed his sentiments and applauded his eloquence, saying they were cyclists and would also like to see a trail.

Council passed the $1.6 million budget for 2016-2017, and then voted to accept the amended budget for 2015-2016. Council also passed a resolution which allows the city to apply for a Homeland Security matching grant for emergency medical equipment for the police department.

The financial reports passed scrutiny, but on the subject of special funds, Councilwoman Pamela Spoor told council that because of a $500,000 to $600,000 carryover in the budget, she would like to take $100,000 and pay off a debt the city is paying on for renovating the city building years ago. Mayor Mattone said they would discuss the issue in a financial oversight committee.

Council voted to award the garbage/recycling contract to Rumpke. The contract is for three years, and the first year the cost will be $14.65 per unit per month, the second year will cost $15.09 per unit per month and the third year will cost $15.55 per unit per month. There is also a two-year extension option. Council also agreed to renew the auditor contract with Van Gorder/Walker at an increase of $200.

Discussion was held to consider closing the entrance to the old Gateway Community & Technical College property off Old State Road, so that whoever buys the property won't use it as an access road, which would make the road busier. City Attorney Todd McMurtry is looking at the matter.

Council discussed the probability of agreeing to a contract to have Open Government software installed so that citizens and people in the government can pull up any reports or anything pertaining to the government very easily. Councilwoman Spoor said she did not want to commit to a three-year contract when she was not sure if anyone would use the program. Jason Reser spoke up and said he had heard a presentation from Edgewood City Administrator Brian Dehner on the program and what it will do, and he said one of the reasons that he thought people voted Mayor Mattone into office was that Mattone promised transparency and this would help that goal. Another resident, Philip Ryan, also spoke for the program. Some on council said that they were very transparent already, and suggesting starting with a one-year contract for the software.

Councilwoman Kathy Zembrodt wanted to read the contract before any decision was made.

Two students, David Lumsden and Bryan Dell, who are taking a class at Northern kentucky University, addressed council on their class project, which is to work with the Civic Club and the Garden Club to revitalize volunteerism in the city. Mayor Mattone asked them to come back and give a presentation in August on how the project fared.

Police Chief Cody Stanley gave a report about the shooting that occurred in the city, saying the incident started somewhere else and ended up in Park Hills because the female was a resident of the city. He also gave some friendly advice, saying if you get into an argument with someone on the road or anywhere, don't touch anybody when you get angry. No matter how mad you get, he advised, let it go. It always leads to either medical bills or legal bills or both, he said.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Engineer Jay Bayer explained that both the water lines and the gas lines were giving the city cause to relocate the sidewalk in the plans (RCN)