Sunday, October 20, 2002

Garage eases parking crunch

Covington lot adds 364 spots

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - The days of circling the block in search of a parking space should end Nov. 15 when the city of Covington opens a new 364-space parking garage at Fifth Street and Scott Boulevard.

When construction of the $4.8 million, five-floor garage began a year ago, the project temporarily displaced regular users of a popular 100-space parking lot. The loss of that parking, coupled with new businesses opening downtown, worsened an already-tight parking situation, area workers said.

"The new garage will provide an incentive to customers who are thinking about coming downtown," said Kristi Nader, director of the Covington Business Council.

Covington officials will show off the new garage, which they described as well-lit and surrounded by sidewalks, at a dedication 3 p.m. Nov. 1.

City officials hope to see some of the former charges of 14-year school crossing guard, Officer Thomas J. "Tommy" Harris, who collapsed at his post in 1927, and died a month later. A newly-refinished plaque mounted on the parking garage will remember "Tommy's Corner" at Fifth Street and Scott Boulevard.

Ms. Nader said the new garage will be a factor when new businesses decide whether to move to Covington, or existing businesses consider whether to expand. Besides providing parking for downtown workers, about 100 spaces will be reserved for transient, or turnover parking.

With the city's 380-space parking garage on Seventh Street usually operating at or near capacity, Covington officials already are talking about building .

"There's going to be a definite need in a couple of years for another garage," Mayor Butch Callery said. "If you take a trip down Madison (Avenue), you can see all kinds of renovation going on."

One company has already reserved 180 spaces in the new garage and the city is negotiating with several others, said Assistant City Manager Tom Steidel.

Workers at the Kenton County Public Library system, which operates a branch on Scott Boulevard across from the new parking structure can't wait for the garage to open, said Wayne Onkst, executive director of the library system. Since construction of the new garage began a year ago, many workers have had to search for whatever spaces they could find on the street.

Mr. Onkst said that he's been talking to city officials about leasing some spaces in the new garage for library workers, freeing up the library's entire lot for the public.

"We're certainly glad to see the garage opening," Mr. Onkst said. "It'll mean relief from the parking problem that we've had for the past year."


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