A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington commissioners discuss John R. Green complaints; resolution asks for more diverse boards

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Construction should be finished on the John R. Green project in September. That’s the $38-million mixed-use development that includes renovation of a historic, four-story building into retail and office space, 177 apartments and a parking garage.

Some residents in MainStrasse have complained recently about the construction, saying there have been nails getting stuck into tires, rude workers, vehicles parked on the street and even a dumpster parked out on the street.

Commissioner Ron Washington brought the complaints to the attention of the Commission Tuesday night at its regularly scheduled legislative meeting. (Commissioners were again meeting virtually due to COVID-19 regulations).

Tom West, the city’s economic development director, said the project is still slated to be completed in August — but that, in “even better news than that,” the developers anticipate they will have a certificate for occupancy for the parking garage by March 10. Construction vehicles will then be able to park there, West said.

West said that residents can email this address to report any issues: JRGjobsite@turnpop.com.

Chris Warneford, the city’s public works director, said the dumpster was actually needed for concrete and is “on its way out” and also noted that residents could call his number (859-292-2292).

“We’ve responded to every call we get,” he said. He explained that it’s actually much easier to go out immediately and handle a problem when someone calls rather than when they email.

Resolution passes asking boards for more diversity

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution “encouraging regional boards to take steps to promote diversity and inclusiveness in the recruiting of its board members to reflect the actual profile of the population of Northern Kentucky.”

At issue were the appointments of Marcus Carey, Robert F. Greene, Darryl Cummins, Robert Sanders, Tom Quirk, Bryce Rhoades and Jack Westwood as members of the NKREA Enforcement Committee for two-year terms beginning Feb. 1, 2021, and expiring Jan. 31, 2023.

Commissioners wanted to make certain that the issue was not about these people. In fact, they wanted to thank these people for volunteering their service.

However, for several weeks, Commissioner Michelle Williams has argued that this group of people does not necessarily represent Northern Kentucky.

And the rest of the commissioners agreed. Last week, they decided on this resolution.

“I think it’s a good thing for boards, but also a good thing in hiring,” said Commissioner Shannon Smith. “I just want to encourage our team, and all other teams in their region, to share best practices because this is an effort that we’re all making.”

State says city can begin MS4 takeover

“We have received a letter from the state proving the city of Covington’s takeover of the MS4 program,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer told the Commissioners. “They’ve given us a schedule of the activities that need to occur within the next 180 days.”

One of the first things on that list? A fee ordinance.

“We have to have in place by the first of March,” Meyer said. “So, I know our staff is working vigorously on this, but I want to give folks a heads-up.”

Meyer said he wanted everyone to know the fee ordinance is coming, and to realize that it may require a special meeting to get that second reading and approval by March 1.

In 2003, SD1 and the city agreed to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (or MS4) permit. “Because we are co-permittees, we have to legally part ways with SD1 in order to proceed on our own for MS4 management,” current city documents say.

In August 2020, the city put the Sanitation District on notice.

“The city and SD1, through various agreements, have partnered to administer the city’s MS4 (or Separate Storm Sewer Systems program) storm water permit program since 2003,” city documents read. “There have been significant problems with the current relationship and recent attempts to improve the relationship or reach a mutually agreeable separation solution have stalled. City staff believes residents would be better served by the city regaining sole responsibility for its MS4 storm water permit program.”

In December, the Commission approved the storm water separation agreement.

Finders Keepers brings in $1,800 for NKY ArtsQuest

Jill Morenz, Director of Community Initiatives and Communications at The Catalytic Fund, updated the Commission on the success of Finders Keepers Thanksgiving Weekend Scavenger Hunt last fall.

Morenz reported the event brought in 150 players over four days and that they explored five neighborhoods, parks and areas around the city.

The event raised more than $1,800 for NKY ArtQuest, an initiative of the Public Arts Network of Northern Kentucky that connects artists, arts organizations and community leaders who believe the arts are an essential part of thriving communities.

“It was very well received,” said Morenz, who noted they will plan to host the event again this Thanksgiving. “We plan to do it again, and hopefully, it will grow!”

Mayor Meyer said he hoped that would be the case.

“It sounded like it was a great and fun project,” he said. “We look forward to it this year.”

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., Feb. 2. The meeting can be followed live on Fioptics channel 815, Spectrum channel 203, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) website, the TBNK Facebook page @TBNKonline, and the TBNK Roku channels.

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