Saturday, July 29, 2000

N.Ky. cities ponder merger

Report points out positives for Crescent Springs, Villa Hills

By Jeff Carlton
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Residents of Crescent Springs and Villa Hills report fires to the same fire department. Their children attend the same schools and play together in the same sports leagues.

        Now the councils of both cities are exploring ways to combine other services, and a new study recommends merging the two Kenton County cities into one.

        The first draft of a study by the Kentucky Area Development District says combining the two cities would improve services, promote financial stability and result in a more effective police department.

        “When people get married, you're hopefully looking at two people who complement each other,” Villa Hills Mayor Steve Clark said. “I can't think of two cities that complement each other better than Villa Hills and Crescent Springs.”

        Crescent Springs and Villa Hills are tucked between Interstate 71/75 and the Ohio River in northwest Kenton County. The report puts Crescent Springs' population at about 3,700; Villa Hills has about 7,600 residents. The largely commercial Crescent Springs is home to merchants including Kremer's Market, on Buttermilk Pike since 1913. Villa Hills is largely residential and is home to Villa Madonna Academy, a well-known parochial school.

        Council members stressed that the report was a first draft and that if a merger were to happen, it wouldn't be soon.

        The report recommends merging the two cities' councils, police departments and public works departments.

        Both councils would have to agree on the merger, and voters in both cities would have to approve it. It will not be on the ballot this November, Villa Hills Councilwoman Mary Koenig said.

        Crescent Springs council will meet at the end of August, Councilman Tom Vergamini said.

        In Villa Hills, council, will likely discuss the report at its mid-August meeting.

        Sherry Bryan, a registered nurse at St. Luke West, has lived in Villa Hills for nearly 24 years and watched her children attend school and play Little League with kids from Crescent Springs. She said she would vote to merge.

        “It's probably a step in the right direction,” Mrs. Bryan said. “Change does take a long time, and I'm glad they are starting to take a look at this now.”

        Kori Meyer, a Crescent Springs resident who works for an insurance company, said her city would benefit from sharing services with the larger Villa Hills.

        “It seems better for Crescent Springs because it would offer more police protection,” she said.

        The report recommends that each city consider putting the merger issue on the ballot, something that would occur only after both city councils get a chance to study the report and debate its merits. Members of both councils declined to say which way they were leaning, saying it is too early.

        “Residents saw Crescent Park merge with Fort Mitchell last year,” Councilwoman Koenig said. “People (in Crescent Springs and Villa Hills) play together and go to school together. Merging is a natural question they should be asking.”


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