Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Boone may chip in on roadwork

Upgrade planned for Mall Road

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Florence city officials want to renovate 30-year-old Mall Road, adding sidewalks and proper storm water drainage, and they would like Boone County to lend a hand.

        Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore said Tuesday that the county wants to cooperate as much as possible with the city, and that could include assistance in funding work on Mall Road and other areas of Florence.

        Boone Fiscal Court and Florence City Council met in a joint session Tuesday in which sharing the wealth when it comes to road repair was a major issue.

        “The city has brought up several issues in the past, relating to assistance from the county in funding major projects,” Florence Mayor Diane Whalen said. “The county has always been willing to talk with us about these issues. We just want to be certain that the door remains open to sharing the financial burden.”

        City and county officials discussed mutual financial assistance on the Mall Road work and a total renovation of Dream Street. The two thoroughfares hold the bulk of Florence's commercial business.

        Florence city administrator Jeff Koenig said the city is about to start a study of Mall Road, “looking at the entire picture, including the infrastructure needs and the economic impact the road has on the city and the county. There is a real need to upgrade the entire road.”

        When Mall Road was built connecting Ky. 18 to Ky. 42, it belonged to the city but was eventually turned over to the state. After Florence Mall opened in 1976, it attracted a large number of businesses along the road, and the thoroughfare has carried heavy traffic since.

        “We are concerned about the south end of Mall Road and the possibility of losing business there,” Mr. Koenig said. “And without adequate pedestrian access, it could be difficult to attract new business. We will have a Mall Road master plan completed in six to nine months, and then we need to start work to renovate it.”

        Florence Councilman Mel Carroll told fiscal court members that Florence officials “see Mall Road and Dream Street as city-county issues. They have a major impact on the city and the county.

        “I think what we see here, a meeting between the two government bodies, is a reflection of the vision of the people leading the county and the city,” he said. “We are working together, and we must continue to cooperate.”

        Ms. Whalen, the mayor, said Dream Street needs a complete rebuild and widening, as well as the addition of sidewalks to make it safer for pedestrians. “It's a project that must be done,” she said.

        She emphasized that the state “only looks at how well a road carries traffic, and Mall Road still does that pretty well. The state is not concerned with sidewalks, storm water or other aesthetics, so it's up to us to make this happen.”

        Mr. Moore said he has found in the past that the state tends to be more generous with grants for projects like Mall Road and Dream Street “when governments and businesses are working in cooperation on the projects. We will make every effort to cooperate.”

        Other issues discussed briefly by the two groups included updates on:

        • The new Public Safety Center to be built near the Boone County Fairgrounds, including a new county jail, a building housing the sheriff's office, and a fire training center. Construction could start next summer.

        • City and county recreational plans, including the Florence aquatic center, to be built next to the government center on Ewing Boulevard. Mr. Koenig said the city hopes to start construction in the spring.

        • The county's planned Hopeful Road/Mall Road connector, something the city proposed two years ago that is now being pushed by the county. The road would provide an alternative for motorists headed to Florence Mall, reducing traffic on other nearby roads. If plans are completed in time, the project could go out for bids in the spring.


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