Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Newport pursues Monmouth renewal

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        NEWPORT — City leaders want to lure tourists who come to the Newport Aquarium and other attractions a few blocks south — to Monmouth Street.

        The first step came Monday, when city commissioners asked business owners on Monmouth to tell them how much of the proposed $3.1 million in improvements they want. They want the merchants to tell them whether the proposed improvements are worth the cost.

        No timetable was given, but the city plans to hold meetings in coming months.

        Commissioner Ken Rechtin said the city should consider a five-year moratorium on property and other taxes for businesses on Monmouth to encourage owners to pay some portion of the improvements.

        “We've been labeled by that street for many years,” Mr. Rechtin said. “We should be the first to invest in this.”

        Proposed improvements include moving utility poles;

        installing trash cans, sidewalks and lamps; and planting trees.

        Tom Beiting, vice chairman of the board of the Newport Business Association, said the city asking what merchants want is a whole lot better than a plan six months ago — to unilaterally charge property owners two-thirds of the cost. How much they would now pay is not determined, but Mr. Beiting said a five-year moratorium on taxes should be enough time for a business owner to either realize a profit or move out.

        “The vast majority of business owners know it makes good sense to improve the look of your (business),” Mr. Beiting said.

        In other action, commissioners:

        • Gave first reading to an order allowing the city to submit a report to the state regarding nomination of the L&N Bridge to the National Register of Historic Places.

        Trains have not used the 128-year-old bridge since 1987. This year, the General Assembly approved $4 million to help turn the truss-style span into a pedestrian walkway linking Newport to Cincinnati's Bicentennial Commons.

        The renovation would ban automobile traffic. • Heard a presentation from a Fairfax engineering consulting firm regarding design alternatives for the southbound exit ramp from Interstate 471 to Ky. 8.

        Pflum, Klausmeier & Gehrum recommended two options: a loop under I-471 to the west side of the northbound exit ramp onto Ky. 8; or a similar loop to the east side. A final report is expected within 30 days.

        “The process for modifying or revising an interstate exchange is a long and complex one,” said Tom Young, the engineer conducting the study.

        The study is being done to relieve traffic problems on Park Avenue. Mr. Young said the nearby Mansion Hill neighborhood is also adversely affected.

        • Announced plans to lower real estate and tangible property taxes to $2.98 per $1,000 assessed value. Mr. Ciafardini said the 6 percent decrease was the 15th straight year the city has lowered the two taxes.


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