Saturday, April 13, 2002

Covington officials going on tour to get feedback

By Cindy Schroeder,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Residents can show their elected officials what's good and bad about nine Covington neighborhoods during a tour today.

    • What: City tour of nine of Covington's 12 neighborhoods to highlight progress and problems
    • Where: Starts at Covington Community Center, 1650 Russell St.
    • When: Residents can meet at the community center at 8 a.m. today for coffee and doughnuts. Mayor Butch Callery, City Manager Greg Jarvis and the four city commissioners will start the tour at 8:45 a.m. in Peaselburg. Every half hour, they will visit the following neighborhoods, in this order: Rittes East, Wallace Woods, Austinburg, Licking Riverside, Mutter Gottes, MainStrasse, Westside and Old Seminary Square.
    Tour will end at 1 p.m. at the Covington Community Center.
        “This isn't just a gripe session,” said Rachel Hastings, director of housing initiatives for Covington Community Center. “While there will be some discussion of issues the neighborhoods are looking for help from the city on, it's also a chance for residents to show off the things they're proud of — everything from community gardens to murals.”

        Besides hearing from residents, Covington officials will receive a one-page handout from each neighborhood that summarizes what they've seen.

        “As a commissioner and as someone who's run for office several times before, I'm familiar in general with many of the problems in these neighborhoods,” said Covington City Commissioner Craig Bohman. “What I hope to do is become more familiar with specific problems and to expand the working relationship that the city and the neighborhood associations have. ... Hopefully, we can come up with a list of what to target most.”

        The Covington Neighborhood Collaborative, an umbrella organization for the city's 12 neighborhood associations, organized the tour so that city officials could “see what's really going on in the neighborhoods,” said Dennis Fangman of the Austinburg neighborhood.

        “This is something the (collaborative) has talked about for a couple of years,” said Mr. Fangman, a 54-year-old Covington native. “It's just a way to let (city officials) see the problems and some of the things that the neighborhoods have accomplished in the last few years.”

        In his neighborhood, Mr. Fangman plans to show off a community mural at 17th and Greenup streets, as well as the Maryland Millennium Playground, a child-designed, community built project at Sixth District Elementary for the Austinburg and Wallace Woods neighborhoods.

        Austinburg residents also will show city officials areas where they'd like to see new curbs and sidewalks built, abandoned buildings fixed up, and housing built on vacant lots.

        “We hope to start fixing up residential buildings and do some infill housing,” Mr. Fangman said. “There are several vacant and underutilized lots that would be perfect for Habitat for Humanity to build on.”


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