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Covington's Future City Hall Plans to Be Discussed Thursday

The public is invited to weigh in on the exploration of a possible new Covington City Hall.

A 16-member task force has been meeting with a consultant once a month to create a vision for what a permanent City Hall could be for the city's residents.

Currently, the City of Covington rents its City Hall on Pike Street..

On Thursday, a public summit will deepen the conversation, a news release said.

The event is part of an array of new activity in the City Hall visioning effort. The task force also has unveiled:

  • A unique brand.
  • A website.
  • A survey for citizens to fill out.
  • And a social media publicity effort that employs hashtags and a paper "frame" to encourage residents to shoot photographs of their favorite sites in the city. 

"The effort is coming together now, and we're working to inspire a lot of community involvement," said Lori Eifert, the chairwoman of the task force. "It's exciting, because we feel like we're changing history. This is something that's not been done in over 200 years, and people who get involved in this will be part of a historic change in Covington."

Using donated funds, the City last fall hired the Cincinnati urban growth firm YARD & Company and created the 16-member task force to answer this question: If and when the City were to build a permanent City Hall, what functions, features, roles, and image should that government complex create for the citizens of Covington?

Come June, the effort will deliver a philosophical vision to the city that will help shape any future decisions about needs, funding, site selection, and architectural design of a future City Hall and public spaces.

The effort includes an array of activity:

The general public is invited Thursday to the Lincoln-Grant Scholar House at 824 Greenup St. to hear four panelists talk about civic involvement, public spaces, engagement technology, and how government complexes empower residents. A question-and-answer session follows the presentation.

The formal event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. but refreshments are available beginning at 5 p.m. More information can be found HERE or HERE.

The brand

Originally, the word "bespoke" meant to speak up and out. Over the years it acquired a second connotation, one that references something that is custom-made or tailored.

With "BeSpoke: A Collaborative Civic Exploration" now the formal brand for the future Covington City Hall discussion, both meanings apply, said YARD & Company project manager Kevin Wright.

"The idea of tailoring something to an audience is connected to one of the goals of this project, which is to create a resilient, future-proof civic commons that is adaptive to the user, which is the Covington public," Wright said. "At the same time, there's a core attraction in that the word 'bespeak' or 'bespoke' sounds like 'be heard and speak up.' We want to empower citizens to speak up (about their local government)."

The website

BeSpoke has set up a website, www.bespokecov.com, to draw attention to its work, serve as a resource, advertise news and events, and help educate residents about what can sometimes be esoteric concepts.

Under the "inspiration" tag at the bottom of the website, residents can read more than a dozen articles related to the conversation about public spaces.

They can also add their names to a mailing list.

The survey

As another way to gather public input, BeSpoke has created an online survey accessible on the website or HERE. It takes about five minutes.

The publicity effort

Also on the website, residents can download (and then print out) an "Insta Card," which essentially is a two-sided frame.

Residents are being encouraged to use the frame to take pictures and post them on social media with the hashtag #BeSpokeCov.

The black-colored side should be used for selfies, since it has the words "spoke for Covington" under the person's face. The white-colored side should be used to frame a scene or event around Covington that residents think represents the best part of the city.

The whole goal of the BeSpoke effort can be summed up in one idea, Eifert said: "We want people to see that City Hall is more than just a building," she said.

"We want to encourage a deeper, broader level of thinking in that City Hall represents access, democracy, and not only how decisions are made but who makes those decisions," Wright said.

With the summit, survey, and discussion, residents have an opportunity to shape that thinking.

-Staff report