Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Boone leads N.Ky. population surge




By Patrick Crowley, Cindy Schroeder and John Byczkowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Boone County and many Northern Kentucky suburbs are growing at a record pace, even as older riverfront cities continue to lose residents.

        The 2000 U.S. Census data shows Boone County was the fastest-growing county in Greater Cincinnati and the second-fastest-growing county in Kentucky behind Spencer County. Now the eighth-largest county in the state, Boone County grew to 85,991 in 2000 from 57,589 in 1990 — a 49.3 percent increase.

MORE COVERAGE
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  • Fastest-growing areas are far from Tristate's center
  • Kentucky number rises 10% in census
  • Northern Kentucky racial breakdown
  • Northern Kentucky census map
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        “We knew we'd come in at about 85,000 and we've been planning with that number in mind,” said Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore.

        Boone County officials and planners have tried to steer as much growth as possible to the eastern portion the county. Those are mainly communities outside Florence that are along interstate highways or near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport — areas that include Union, Hebron and Burlington.

        However, increased traffic on state roads has been a problem, Mr. Moore said.

        “We have a lot of heavily traveled roads in our growth areas that are state roads,” Mr. Moore said. “Roads like North Bend, Pleasant Valley, Frogtown and Camp Ernst.

        “As a county we don't have the resources to fix those state roads, so we need to do a better job lobbying Frankfort for money to widen and maintain those roads,” he said. “If there is a weakness, that's it.”

        Kenton and Campbell counties also grew, although not at Boone's explosive rate. Kenton County had a 6.6 percent increase — from 142,031 to 151,464 — mainly because of the growth in the south, and Campbell County grew 5.7 percent, well above its 0.7 percent increase in 1990 and 1980's decline of 6.1 percent.

FASTEST GROWING
    Five fastest growing cities in Northern Kentucky
    Wilder, Campbell County: Grew from 691 to 2,624, 279.7 percent.
    Crittenden, Grant County: Grew from 731 to 2,401, 228.5 percent.
    Union, Boone County: Grew from 1,001 to 2,893, 189 percent.
    Ryland Heights, Kenton County: Grew from 279 to 799, 186.4 percent.
    Sparta, Gallatin and Owen counties: Grew from 133 to 239, 142.1 percent.
BIGGEST LOSERS
    Latonia Lakes, Kenton County: Dropped from 410 to 325, 20.7 percent.
    Bromley, Kenton County: Dropped from 1,137 to 838, 26.3 percent.
    Melbourne, Campbell County: Dropped from 660 to 457, 30.8 percent.
    California, Campbell County: Dropped from 130 to 86, 33.8 percent.
    Kenton Vale, Kenton County: Dropped from 358 to 156, 56.4 percent.
        Among the outlying counties, Grant County grew from 15,737 in 1990 to 22,384 — a 42.2 percent increase — and Gallatin County's population jumped 45.93 percent — from 5,393 residents in 1990 to 7,870.

        Northern Kentucky is growing more diverse, although its communities generally don't reflect the mix of races and ethnic groups that many Ohio municipalities or neighborhoods do.

        In recent years, churches throughout Northern Kentucky have begun offering services or Masses in Spanish.

        And in Boone County, where 2 percent of the population is Hispanic and 1.3 percent is Asian, the county school system now routinely tests new students' mastery of English. Six teachers travel from school to school teaching English as a second language.

        “Our Hispanic population is growing quickly,” said Pam Hatton, coordinator of the adult education program in Boone County. “Anyone who can speak both English and Spanish can stay busy all the time. That's one of our major second languages.”

        Bilingual residents — especially those proficient in Spanish or Japanese — often find work teaching English to Boone County's newest residents or serving as interpreters for businesses, Mrs. Hatton said.

        Covington continues to have Northern Kentucky's highest concentration of African-Americans, with 10.1 percent of its residents designating their race as black.

        In Boone County, Florence grew from Kentucky's 15th-largest city to its 12th-largest, adding 4,927 residents for a 2000 population of 23,551, up from 18,624 in 1990. That's an increase of 26.5 percent.

        “Wow,” Florence Mayor Diane Whalen said when she heard the numbers. “We knew we'd be way up. It's something we've been anticipating. But when you finally see the numbers, you realize just how much you are growing as a city.”

        Many of Boone County's newer residents moved there from neighboring counties because of job opportunities and the availability of newer housing close to their workplaces, said Kevin Costello, executive director of the Boone County Planning Commission.

        In the mid-'90s, the county's research showed that 42 percent of Boone County's residents were coming from Kenton County and another 14 percent were coming from Ohio. The rest were migrating from outside the Tristate because of employment opportunities, Mr. Costello said.

        Campbell County Commissioner Dave Otto said high growth areas in his county include Wilder, Cold Spring, Alexandria and the southern unincorporated area.

        Wilder's population grew 279.7 percent since the last census, from 691 to 2,624. It was the fastest-growing city in the commonwealth during the decade.

        “It used to be that you knew everybody in town,” said City Clerk Michele Meyers, who moved to Wilder on her wedding day in 1963. “There were no gas stations and nothing to draw people in. Today, that's all changed, but it's still a nice place to live. People who move into town like our low property tax rate and our wonderful services. And a lot of people moving in comment on how friendly everyone is.”

        Core cities along Northern Kentucky's Ohio riverfront continued to lose residents or show little growth. Newport dropped from 18,871 to 17,048, for a 9.7 percent decrease, joining the river cities of Bellevue, Dayton, Bromley and Ludlow in showing population losses.

        Northern Kentucky's largest city, Covington — where a census undercount cost the municipality $13 million in state and federal aid in 1990 — rose from 43,264 to 43,370, a 0.2 percent climb.

        While pleased that Covington showed its first small population growth in decades, city officials had estimated the official count in 2000 would be about 45,000 to 46,000, said Mayor Butch Callery.

        “I know we've increased our population (above 45,000), based on the number of new housing starts in south Covington and the number of new homes built throughout the city,” Mr. Callery said. He added city officials are continuing to work with home builders to generate new housing throughout Covington, and reverse urban flight.

       



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