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Cov Commission meeting: City Hall Task Force recommendations, packaged liquor sales approved

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Eight months ago, the city formed a task force to investigate not when or where, but how, a new City Hall building should be chosen.

Paid for by the R.C. Durr Foundation and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Foundation, Covington entered into a $20,000 agreement with Yard & Company, a Bellevue-based urban growth firm, and with input from residents, they attempted to investigate what a new City Hall should represent.

How should it serve the community? What should it mean to the city and its residents?

Along the way, they decided to call themselves Bespoke: A Collaborative Civic Exploration, and for eight months, they did a lot of research.

Lori Eifert, chairperson of the City Hall Task Force, explained to the city’s commissioners at their regularly-scheduled legislative meeting Tuesday night that the word Bespoke “speaks to how the principles for Covington’s new City Hall were developed.”

After input from a public survey (145 responses), a staff survey (97 responses), passing out print materials and engaging with more than 1,000 followers on social media (among other communications) the group shaped their thoughts.

Eifert, the rest of the group, and Yard & Company presented their opinions, outlined in five principles. She said the “principles are intended to integrate into the community both physically and socially, while meeting the day-to-day transactional needs of the people who walk in the door of City Hall each day.”

The five principles are:

Foster multiple, connected venues for broad civic exchange
Locate at a hub of Covington public life (a central locale, accessible by all)
Provide many reasons to come to City Hall (make it welcoming; offer events)
Build Covington’s Public Square (the centerpiece of the city’s public space)
Be a center of design and culture

“We came to a consensus,” Eifert said. “We wanted to make sure City Hall was more than just a building.”

Joe Nickol, director of design and development for Yard & Company, explained that the building should reflect Covington, and that their recommendations would guide future decision-makers in how to choose and/or build a new City Hall.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” he said. Nickol also noted that 70 percent of their survey respondents said they’d never been to City Hall — something that should change — and that the responsibility of these buildings is evolving.

“This isn’t about when or where — it’s just guidance,” said Mayor Joseph U. Meyer. He agreed that building a new City Hall is supposed to be a “rare” event, but admitted that Covington had had five of them in five decades.

“This was supposed to be a thoughtful, theoretical look at what City Hall means to a community,” Meyer said, “and it looks like you’ve done it.”

Toward the end of the presentation, Nickol explained that Bespoke also made recommendations on moving forward, including outlines for budgets, timelines and advice for commissioners on how to manage the project.

Meyer noted the building should represent the “foundation of Covington community values.”

“What should the building say about the generation that created it?” he asked.

The Task Force and other supporters in the group:

Lori Eifert, Chairperson
Rob Fischer, Co-Chair
Andrew Hargis
Angela White
Brittany Brandenburg
Chris Henry
Janet Creekmore
Jim Guthrie
Jay Fossett
Peter D’Angio
Quentin Koopman
Richard Hamel
Shannon Smith
Stephen Hayden
Tim Downing
Lenette Beasley
Taylor Lowry

Also Tuesday:

IL Restaurants, Taverns to Sell Packaged Liquor

Commissioners approved an order to add a section to the city zoning code to allow restaurants and taverns within industrial limited zones to sell packaged liquor as an accessory use.

“Given the current interest in bourbon, this amendment will allow restaurants and taverns in the IL zone to meet that demand from the public,” city documents said. “This amendment limits package sales to restaurants and taverns in the IL zone and does not allow for standalone liquor stores.”

Ad Valorem Tax Rate approved
Commissioners approved the tax rates for real and personal property: 0.327 for each $100 of all assessed or assessable real property and 0.349 for each $100 of all assessed or assessable personal property.

Commission Wishes Mayor Happy Birthday

Just after saying the Pledge of Allegiance to begin the meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Meyer was surprised when the room burst into song, wishing him a happy 71st birthday. The Mayor thanked everyone, saying “I don’t take well to that sort of thing.” He laughed, and added, “that’s why you did it.”

Lastly: Commissioner Tim Downing was absent Tuesday night.

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Sept. 17, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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