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Ft. Mitchell Poised to Address Highland, Downtown Parking Issues

The possibility of widening Highland Avenue and potential remedies for parking issues in the city's business district are targets for the City of Fort Mitchell.

For Highland, a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Beechwood school cafeteria (54 Beechwood Road). 

The city is asking for public input before proceeding on the potential widening project, which was first proposed by City Councilman Jerry Deatherage and public works director Matt Stegman in December.

A proposed resurfacing of Highland would start in March or April next year from Dixie Highway to Longmeadow Lane, with a completion date the following May or June. The anticipated cost is $165,000.

But a proposed widening could start in July next year with a completion in the fall at a cost from $575,000. The proposed widening of Highland would take place between Dixie and Ross Avenue.

"I don't think the number of cars is shrinking in Ft. Mitchell," Deatherage said at the December council meeting. "I think we at least owe it to the residents to bring an open forum. If we bring the proposal to the general public and we put an open house together, I think this is something we put a little more ink to."

Another area of concern related to vehicles is in the downtown business district where parking issues are mounting as the number of new businesses grows, particularly around the redeveloped Remke Plaza which is now home to a popular addition to Braxton Brewing Company's growing local beer empire. The increasing number of cars at other local destinations like Camporosso is disrupting the flow of longer-established businesses like Saddle Club and Greyhound Tavern, local business owners and residents have said at recent council meetings. 

The city has commissioned a downtown parking city study.

City Administrator Sharmili Reddy said that a planning session would be announced soon. "We will need to do some sort of drone study to understand parking and the way it is utilized," she said. "We won't do that until spring or summer months when the outdoor dining is used and more people are utilizing these businesses."

A budget for the study will be established during an upcoming council planning and budget session.

"At certain times there are some parking concerns," Mayor Jude Hehman said. "I don't know that it's just the city's responsibility. That's why I like the businesses getting together."

The city, Hehman said, would like to see if there are additional areas where extra parking could be added, but he is also in favor of waiting until warmer weather to conduct a full analysis.

"If we study it now, we're not going to get the right data int hat the businesses aren't at their height. When it's busy and we have Braxton utilizing their outdoor patio, Camporosso at their capacity, that's the time we need to be studying parking," he said.

The mayor conceded that some businesses' customers are parking on residential streets but added that while that may be inconvenient for residents, it is not illegal. "But knowing how many people are overflowing on those streets, it should be important to know how many parking spots we are shy."

Though the parking in the business district is a concern, it is also a sign of progress in the city, Hehman said. "The river cities deal with this a lot more than us," he said. "Now that little Fort Mitchell is dealing with this, there are two ways to look at this: I'm excited because it means people are coming into our city and using our businesses, but I don't want it to be at the expense of people living here."

When asked if a public parking garage could be part of the equation, Hehman said that it would be unlikely barring a major development. "I don't think we can even look into it until we study it," he said.

"We know we are growing," Reddy said. "We know our businesses are growing. Can we look at it proactively and come up with some solutions?"

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher