by Michael Monks
THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
Here's what happened at the Tuesday night meeting of the Covington City Commission:
$1.4 million in industrial building revenue bonds approved for the Diocese of Covington
This allows the Diocese to borrow from a bank at a lower interest rate as expansion continues at Covington Latin School. Passed by a vote of 4-0 (Commissioner Steve Frank did not vote as he is an alumnus of Latin School and a donor.)
Animal control services outsourced to Kenton County
The final vote on this issue happened Tuesday night and passed unanimously.
How Devou Park will spend its money
Of the revenue earned at Devou Park by the Drees Pavillion Barbara Drees Jones asked the commission to approve $50,000 for new wayfinding signage, $75,000 for road improvements, and $15,000 for new structures. The full request for expenditures was not complete as the Park's board hopes to have a clearer picture on which roads need to be repaired. They will return to ask for specific funding at a later date. The motion passed unanimously.
Also, it was noted that the new concessions/bathroom facility will be ready in time for the first performance of the season by the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra at the Devou Park bandshell.
COVINGTON'S ROAD PRIORITIES
The General Assembly is considering its $3.5 billion roads bill that includes several projects in Covington. The bill already passed the house and is now in the senate. Covington city engineer Mike Yeager spoke on the ceremonial resolutions before the commission that would demonstrate support for Covington's road priorities:
- Hands Pike realignment This dangerous South Covington road is due for some serious work. There are two options on the table, one that would keep the same alignment while adding new curbs and bringing the road to current design and speed standards, and another that would realign the road. In the second option, the City would assume responsibility for a portion of Hands that is currently maintained by the state. Before that transition takes place, however, the state would have to replace a failing retaining wall. Currently, the project is slated to begin in 2015 with one year's time expected for design work and another year predicted for construction.
- Taylor Mill Road (KY 16) and Madison Pike (KY 17) The important strip of Taylor Mill Road near the entrance/exit ramps for I-275 is due for widening. Originally, funding for this project was not expected until 2015, but the House moved it up to 2013. As for KY 17, the priority is to add sidewalks to part of the road near its intersection with Hands Pike.
- Other Covington road priorities The top priorities for Covington, as unanimously approved by the commission, are Church Street in front of Holy Cross, the Caroline underpass in Latonia, Southern & Latonia avenues reconstruction, and the Pike Street triangle (where Pike intersects with Craig Street). "Half of them are reconstruction," said Mayor Chuck Scheper. "The cost of reconstruction goes from $13,000 a lane mile to $500,000 a lane mile. By the time it gets to be reconstruction it's a significant cost to the city, so we need to be mindful of the need to invest when it's at the earlier stages of disrepair."
- Yeager noted that some of the reconstruction projects may be a cost to the city but there is the possibility for state or federal funding and the city will seek that route first.
- Commissioner Sherry Carran thanked state senator Jack Westood and state representative Arnold Simpson for the work on the roads bill that includes sidewalks for Highway Avenue in Botany Hills. "Many of our residents walk down there to the stores on Crescent," she said. "Botany Hills has been working on this for a long time."
Funding expenditures approves for fire department
Unanimous approval was granted for four expenditures: Ten cardiac monitors (Cost: $319,000 Funding: $287,100 from a grant and $31,900 from general fund)), a training simulator (Cost: $16,740 Funding: $15,066 from a grant and $1,674 from capital improvements fund), training materials and equipment (Cost: $21,404 Funding: $19,264 from a grant and $2,140 capital improvements fund), nine 4-Gas monitor kits (Cost: $29,444 Funding: $26,503 from a grant and $2,944 from capital improvements fund). "Anyone with a heart condition should consider moving to Covington because we have state-of-the-art monitors that are best of class and we'll take care of you," joked Mayor Scheper.
Fire Chief Chuck Norris explained that the fire simulator allows firefighters to fight fake fires on real Covington properties through a sort of virtual reality scenario. Commissioner Steve Casper suggested that the city investigate which of its three-hundred properties that it owns could be used for real firefighting practice, which Chief Norris said that the department prefers. "It's the best training we can do but it's very costly aqnd very time consuming," Norris said. "There is testing that needs to be done for asbestos, shingles have to be removed, siding has to be removed, there are many steps that have to be followed. We would love to be able to do that more, it's just very difficult to do. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to get that done. (The simulator)is not the same either but it is a step up from what we are able to do now."
The City will enter into a programmatic agreement with the Kentucky Heritage Council and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on how to excavate the ground around the former Jacob Price housing project. The reason one building still stands there is because of possible historically significant items underneath the earth.
Arbor Day will be recognized in Covington as Saturday, April 28.
Employment matters: a Devou Park ranger was hired as a part-time employee, two interns were hired for the community development department, a police officer got a raise, and an employee in the finance department and one in the public improvements department resigned.