Friday, October 22, 1999

Fidelity opens talks for access road


State funding sought for connector to headquarters

BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Fidelity Investments has revived plans for a new connector road to its Covington regional headquarters.

        It could mean more jobs for the region.

        Executives from Fidelity, one of the world's largest investment firms, recently met with state and local officials to talk about securing state money to build the road.

        Fidelity operates a 2,000-employee office and mail-sort complex in Covington atop a hill that sits along Interstate 275 and between Ky. 16 and 17, known respectively as Taylor Mill Road and Madison Pike.

        The company said it wants the road to improve access and traffic flows to its Midwest regional headquarters and so it can possibly expand in the future, said State Rep. Tom Kerr, D-Taylor Mill.

        Mr. Kerr and officials from Taylor Mill and Covington recently met with Fidelity executives to discuss the road.

        Fidelity spokesman Kevin Canafax could not be reached Thursday, but Mr. Kerr said the company is interested in a road that would lead from its operation down to Ky. 17, which is west of its headquarters, or north to Howard Litzler Boulevard, an existing connector between Ky. 17 and Ky. 16.

        Fidelity now has only one access road off of Ky. 16.

        “Fidelity has always been interested in expanding and they would like another road to their facility,” Mr. Kerr said. “Right now they're exploring the possibilities.”

        Fidelity first began lobbying Gov. Paul Patton and state lawmakers for the road in 1995. It was placed in the state's six-year road plan shortly after, but was pulled from the plan in 1998 by Mr. Patton.

        At the time Mr. Patton said concern and opposition from local lawmakers and residents basically killed the project.

        Construction of the road would have forced the demolition of homes along West Grand Avenue, which is in Taylor Mill but just down the hill from Fidelity.

        Mr. Kerr said Fidelity is now committed to seeking a route that would not run through any residential areas.

        “Fidelity really just wants to open up conversations and go about this in the correct way this time,” said Mr. Kerr, one of the local lawmakers who previously opposed the road.

        Mr. Kerr said he would be open to supporting the road as long as some conditions were met, including making sure no homes were taken.

        “Certainly Fidelity is a good corporate entity here in Northern Kentucky,” Mr. Kerr said. “They have a lot of jobs in Covington and some very well-paying jobs. If we could help them expand that would be wonderful.

        “But we would have to weigh that against the costs of the construction and the impact that might have on neighboring property owners,” he said.

        Mr. Kerr said Fidelity talked about seeking the road as part of an economic development incentive package. The company did not talk specifics about any expansion plans but it's doubtful the state would spend money to build the road unless it would help create jobs.

        Fidelity has long said it would like to expand and add jobs in Covington. The company advertises almost non-stop for employees in this area.

        Officials from Covington and Taylor Mill did not return calls to comment Thursday.

        Taylor Mill had previously opposed the road when it was going through the West Grand Avenue neighborhood. Covington, however, had supported it.

        Mr. Kerr said Fidelity did not say when it would ask state leaders that the road be funded and built.

        “There's nothing imminent at this point,” he said. “They are just opening up some dis cussions and exploring all the possibilities.”

        Mr. Kerr said he did not know at this point how much the road would cost.

       



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