Sunday, July 29, 2001

Group eyes Newport changes

Historic district would be tied by name, theme

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Newport's downtown business district, anchored by the various shops and businesses on Monmouth Street, will soon be known as “South of the Levee” if the new chairman of the Newport Business Association has anything to say about it.

        Attorney Tom Beiting, whose office and home are in a historic structure on Sixth Street in the middle of downtown Newport, recently was elected chairman of the association and immediately went about making it a more active and vital group.

        “In the past, this was a passive organization that basically received information about what was being done in the city but did little to bring about any changes,” he said. “Now, we want to be directly involved in the overall planning of the city's growth because it directly affects the business community.”

        One of the first orders of business for the association chairman and his board, which has several new members, is to complete work on a brochure listing every business in Newport, to be made available in about a month at various locations including Newport on the Levee, the Newport Aquarium and the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau.

        “Bev Holiday (owner of Kentucky Haus Craft Gallery) and I were working on the brochure and wanted to come up with a new name for the business district, something that people would remember,” he said. “Bev said something about the district being south of Newport on the Levee, and South of the Levee was born.”

        In conjunction with that name, the association wants to develop a riverboat theme for the stores and businesses along Monmouth Street, trading on the city's heritage as a river town.

        As one indication of how the business association is taking a more active role in city affairs, the organization is actively promoting the sale of the city water works.

        “The most pressing issue for us right now is the sale of the water system,” Mr. Beiting said. “It makes good common sense and it makes good business sense for the city to get out of the water business. The association has been extraordinarily involved in promoting the sale.”

        Mr. Beiting, a former Dayton police chief and federal law enforcement officer, especially was pleased Friday to learn Newport had received a total of $495,000 in state grants for the Monmouth Streetscape project and for facade upgrades on Monmouth Street.

        “That's really good news because we've been telling business owners who complained about the assessments they are required to pay for part of the streetscape work that the city was looking for more grant money to reduce the assessments,” he said. “A lot of them didn't believe us, but now they can see the city was sincere.”

        Ms. Holiday said the association, which now has 70 members, so far has grown with virtually no assistance from the city. “We even assembled the list of businesses for the brochure ourselves, not from a city list,” she said. “We called every business to confirm addresses and phone numbers.”

        Mr. Beiting said the business association will be “an issue-oriented organization. We want to be able to provide ideas and solutions for our members. In addition to the sale of the water works, issues we will be working on include parking in the business district and the proposal to change Monmouth Street to two-way traffic.”


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