Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Residents speak out on riverfront

Covington to develop plan based on local input

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

COVINGTON - Nearly 60 residents filled City Hall Tuesday night to give their input on how the Riverfront West site should be developed.

Green space, bike and walking paths, and preserving the city's historic look were some of the priorities residents listed.

The area being studied runs along the riverfront from the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge to the Licking River, with the major focus being about 18 acres between the bridge and the Marriott Hotel.

A $200,000 federal grant is paying for the study, which includes ways to alter an earthen levee in the heart of the 18 acres.

There are five phases to the development. The first phase is being conducted now and includes gathering input from city residents.

"I want to see small specialty shops, small hotels and a grocery store," said Candy Witte of Rivercenter Boulevard. "And I want to see some residential. We can have our people and our businesses together."

Pat Flannery, who has lived on Riverside Drive for 49 years, said green space has to be the priority.

"We're always leaving out green space," said Flannery. "From the street (Riverside) to the river was given to the city by the founding fathers as commons. We ought to make that walking paths and picnic areas."

Chuck Eilerman of Highway Avenue described Covington as a river city that has been cut off from the river.

"We don't need more office space, but more people," said Eilerman. "We need an environment that says something special about Covington. We need more public space on the river for the whole community to enjoy."

The second phase - a feasibility study - will take place after the master plan has been completed in November.

The final three phases include drawing up plans and specifications, construction, and operation and maintenance.

Three developers - Corporex of Covington, Towne Properties of Cincinnati, and Flaherty & Collins of Indianapolis - have all expressed interest in developing the site.

"We'll use the master plan to make decisions on what to do with the developers," said Covington City Manager Greg Jarvis.

Seeing the project to fruition will take time, said Covington Mayor Butch Callery.

"I think it's down the road a ways, maybe five or six years," said Callery. "A lot of planning needs to be done, but this $200,000 grant has really helped us. We can take the results of this study to help us sell it to the federal government."

The next public meeting will be Sept. 24 from noon to 5 p.m. at a site to be determined, at which time the master plan will be 60 percent complete and presented to the public for more feedback.

The final public meeting will be the presentation of the completed master plan on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at a site to be determined.

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