Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Park has support, but lacks financing

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Plans for the development of Park Place Square, an outdoor gathering spot near the Ohio riverfront, should be back on track this year.

        “It's going to be one of the priority projects for 2002,” said Covington City Manager Greg Jarvis.

        Wally Pagan, president of Southbank Partners, a group that promotes development in the river cities, sees Park Place Square anchored by two monuments — the Northern Kentucky Police Memorial on its north side and a proposed Veterans Memorial at Park Place and Court Street.

        “We have always looked at this as our Fountain Square,” Mr. Pagan said of the park, which he figures will cost under $2 million to develop.

        Fund raising for Park Place Square, which would encompass the area bounded by Greenup, Scott and Fourth streets, was put on hold a year ago because of concerns that the Kenton Fiscal Court would expand the nearby jail at 303 Court St.

        However, expansion or construction of the Kenton County Jail has been delayed indefinitely after recent court rulings jeopardized the funding source for the project, a year-old Kenton County payroll tax cap increase.

        Although county officials have not officially ruled out expansion of the jail, Mike Mangeot, chairman of a Southbank committee overseeing development of the park, said: “We think (the jail's) going to be a dormant issue.”

        At a meeting Monday with Ron Ferrier, a Vietnam veteran who is trying to generate support for a regional veterans park or plaza, Mr. Pagan said that he will ask the Cincinnati architectural firm of Mike Schuster Associates to incorporate Mr. Ferrier's ideas into a possible design for Park Place Square.

        As envisioned by Southbank, the pedestrian-oriented park would connect international-themed restaurants. Although Court Street would be closed between Third and Fourth streets to create green space, vehicular access would still be possible during the daytime hours via Park Place.

        While various government officials have indicated support for the veterans monument or plaza, funding remains the stumbling block.

        “We need your help with funding sources,” Mr. Mangeot told Mr. Ferrier, who lives in Erlanger. “We have to raise most, if not all of this, privately.”

        Members of Southbank plan to approach foundations and corporations for help in raising money for Park Place Square.

        When Mr. Ferrier said that Heather French Henry, the wife of Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, had expressed interest in the veterans memorial, Mr. Pagan suggested that he approach the veterans advocate about leading fund raising efforts on a non-partisan basis.


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