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City of Covington develops guidelines for $60k neighborhood improvement program

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Neighborhood organizations, are you ready to help your communities?

As part of the 2019 budget, the city commission allocated $60,000 of general fund money for grants to community groups to improve the physical appearance of their environments or “enhance the quality of life in the Covington’s diverse neighborhoods,” city records say. 

City staff were asked to devise eligibility requirements and other program guidelines, which Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith presented to city commissioners at their regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night at City Hall.

The proposed guidelines provide for two rounds of funding per year with neighborhoods restricted to two small ($250-$1,500) or one large ($1,501-$5,000) award per year, Smith reported. Proposals will be evaluated by a committee of city staff based on timeline, feasibility, impact, need, support, leverage, inclusion and sustainability. 

Proposals for areas that have not received previous funding will receive bonus points, and staff recommendations will be presented to the commission for approval.

Applicants must be a current Covington neighborhood association, a group of residents forming an association, or an informal neighborhood group if the application meets the city’s objectives.

Applicants cannot be:

Social services agencies
Fraternal or religious organizations
Public agencies

“This is our first attempt at this, and I suspect we’ll learn a lot,” Smith said.

The city will host an information meeting from 5:30-6:30 p.m., April 22 at City Hall to review the guidelines and answer questions from interested parties. Applications will be do at 4 p.m. May 13.

Mayor Joseph U. Meyer said he hoped to see some examples, like new neighborhood flags on poles, historical markers or other beatification projects.

“We gave you a big project,” Commissioner Tim Downing told Smith. “We’re really glad you were able to implement it.”

Devou Park gets funding recommendations

Barbara Drees Jones, chairperson of Devou Properties, Inc., and Pete Nerone, chairperson of the Devou Park Advisory Committee, met with city commissioners Tuesday night to make their joint recommendations for the use of funds generated from the 2018 operations of The Drees Pavilion at Devou Memorial Overlook.

Devou Properties, Inc., committed $275,000 for the park, divided up as:

$200,000 Devou Golf & Event Center commitment*
$20,000 Bandshell repairs
$30,000 Master plan contribution
$25,000 Reserve

Jones and Nerone explained that this is the fifth year of 10 where $200,000 will be pledged toward the golf and event center debt service. It is also the fifth year where they have put $25,000 in the reserve.

That caused Commissioner Michelle Williams to wonder why they aren’t using the reserve monies to repair the bandshell.

Nerone explained that the repairs include electronic upgrades, as well as rigging for the awning, and because they are improvements, they would not be the correct use for reserves.

The proposal will be on the consent agenda for next Tuesday’s legislative meeting. 

Also Tuesday …

Commissioners heard that KaBoom!, a national nonprofit organization, invited the city to submit a grant request for funding to build a playground in September 2019. If awarded, the city, residents, KaBoom! and their partners would work together to “plan, design, and build a new playground unique to Covington.”

The grant will cover the cost of the playground design, a portion of the playground equipment costs, shipping, play surface, unique ascents around the playground, and will provide a KaBoom! project manager. The city would be responsible for any site or soil prep and $8,500 in matching funds (CDBG) used for a portion of the playground equipment costs. 

“The grant will culminate in a community build day during which volunteers from the community will gather to work with KaBoom! professionals to construct a playground in one day,” city documents say. Commissioner Downing pointed out that this is a situation where the city can invest $8,500 but get back $80,000. “I applaud this effort,” he said. 

Commissioners heard from the engineering department, who put together a policy for the installation of temporary or permanent speed humps on city streets. They can be installed for any of the following reasons: 

*Petition for permanent speed hump or bump installation only received greater than 60 percent positive feedback, but less than the required 75 percent

*Police recommend installation of temporary speed hump or bump on a street due to speeding issues

*Around a construction site

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., March 26, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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