Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Jail site proposal criticized

Declining values feared

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A Peaselburg neighborhood activist said Monday she hopes a controversial proposal to build a county jail in her neighborhood is dead, after city leaders refused to endorse it.

        On Friday, Covington City Commission approved a resolution asking Kenton County officials to reconsider building the jail along the 3L highway or to look into building a regional jail, possibly in Boone County.

        “I agree with the city commission,” said Susan Ham, chairperson of the Friends of Peaselburg. “I think we need to look at the 3L site and keep it out of the neighborhoods, whether it's Peaselburg, Wallace Woods, Licking Riverside or whatever.”

        Kenton County commissioners had said they would consider the Peaselburg site only if it had the backing of Covington City Commission.

        Last week, Southbank Partners, a development group, suggested that Kenton Fiscal Court consider building a new jail on a 10-acre site between Interstate 75 and the Peaselburg neighborhood. Southbank proposed the site as an alternative to expanding the current jail at Third and Court Sts. after business owners and nearby residents said that proposal would hurt development near Covington's riverfront.

        This morning, Ms. Ham will join a group of community representatives in a meeting at Southbank's offices to ask questions about the latest proposed jail site — in Peaselburg.

        “I'm trying to get a diverse cross-section of folks from the community to really look at this and say, "What are all the pros and cons (of the Peaselburg site) and where do we go from here?'” said Rachel DeLugish, a neighborhood development coordinator with the Covington Community Center.

        “There are so many lingering questions.”

        Invited to today's meeting are: Ms. Ham, Beth Sewell, executive director of the Covington Business Council (CBC); Jim Gilliece, president of the CBC; Chuck Eilerman of the Friends of Covington; Jack Moreland, superintendent of Covington schools; Cindy Huston, a resident of the Licking Riverside neighborhood; and Covington City Manager Greg Jarvis.

        Last Thursday, about 150 people attended a Southbank meeting to view information on expanding the current jail versus building a new government center and jail at the Peaselburg site. Participants were asked to submit their written comments on the proposals to Southbank by this Thursday.

        In her own poll, Ms. Ham said 90 people indicated they were against the jail, and four were undecided. Many who oppose a jail in Peaselburg have said they are concerned about declining property values and increased traffic, if a jail is built there.

        “The majority of people who talked to me at (Thursday's) meeting were against a jail in Peaselburg,” said Covington Mayor Butch Callery who called for the jail vote at Friday's special city commission meeting.

        Kenton County commissioners have said they will not reconsider a decision by a previous fiscal court to build a jail in Covington southeast of Interstate 275 and Ky. 17, or the 3L Highway site. The site was near Edgewood, and residents turned out in force to object.

        County officials cited a costly environmental cleanup and the site's distance from the justice center in Covington as reasons for rejecting the 3L site.

        However, Mr. Callery said there are a couple of other possible jail sites in the 3L area. He added the distance from the courthouse shouldn't be a deciding factor, because of video arraignments.


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