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Developers say COV Riverfront Commons Plaza ‘98% complete’; city wants to buy Scott Street properties

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Almost — 98 percent — complete.

That’s what representatives from the Riverfront Commons Plaza project reported Tuesday night at the city’s regularly scheduled commission meeting.

“Minor cosmetic things,” remain unfinished they said, like sod placement and some concrete.

Mike Prus, product design engineer for Prus Construction, which is in charge of the project, said weather had kept the team from finishing on schedule, but that “we saw this coming,” he said. “We’ve worked diligently” to get back on track.

He said much of what needs to be completed should be finished this week.

While commissioners still have some questions about what will happen when the river floods (Commissioner Ron Washington was concerned about any debris that could be left behind by flooding, especially on the seats), the project will be finished.

And Commissioner Shannon Smith noted that when taking in a recent play, the view was amazing.

“Everyone is going to feel it the first time they sit down there,” she said.

Mayor Joseph U. Meyer also noted some concern where kayaks and canoes will be operated, saying that when the river is low the drop-off to the water would be very steep. He said it is something that will need to be addressed, and Prus said they could possibly build something up to remedy the issue.

Sketch of Riverfront Commons Plaza (file photo)

In November 2020, commissioners heard a proposal to amend the existing contract with Prus Construction for the Riverfront Commons Phase I — Plaza Design, extending the time of the contract by four months, to May 1.

Public Works Director Chris Warneford reported that weather and high river levels delayed construction on the project, and the possibility of more inclement weather resulted in the request for the extension.

But Meyer wondered if there were more reasons for the delay, including if Duke Energy had been dragging its feet after having more than a year to remove electric poles — and still not doing so.

Warneford conceded, saying Duke has been difficult to communicate with.

Since 2007, the idea of the Commons Plaza has been talked about, originally quoted at $70 million, but the project was cut back significantly, dropping to $6.2 million.

Now it seems as though it is close to completion — 98 percent close.
“I think it looks great — it’s going to be a wonderful addition,” Meyer said of the project. “We appreciate your good work.”

620 and 622 Scott Street properties

Commissioners heard a proposal from the city to purchase properties at 620 and 622 Scott Streets, which are currently owned by the Gateway Community & Technical College Foundation, Inc.

Originally, the site was going to be home to Gateway’s urban education campus, but new owners and leadership have decided against that idea.

Now, the city is interested in the lots, which have an asking price of $550,000. Why? In the written request, the record says, “The city would like to purchase two lots on Scott Street for future government operations.”

Vacant lots at 620-622 Scott Street in Covington, adjacent to Lee’s Fried Chicken.

And what would those future operations be? City officials aren’t saying.

“No decisions have been made on that,” said City Communications Manager Dan Hassert. And he said the commission would have to have future discussions before any decisions were made.

The proposed sale was placed on the regular agenda at next week’s legislative meeting.

New City Clerk hire recommended

A new city clerk hire has been recommended to the commission, though the name is being withheld so as to protect their privacy.

“The person we have recommended is, I believe, a great fit — and will be an asset to the team,” City Solicitor Michael Bartlett said.

City Manager David Johnston noted it was a goal of the commission to publicize job openings to greater populations of people — especially to those in underrepresented minorities. He thinks this job search was an “encouraging effort.”

The proposal will be on the consent agenda for next week’s meeting

Public Works projects

Three Public Works projects were put on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting:

An agreement with Riegler Blacktop, Inc., for fiscal year 2021-22 with CDBG & Capital Street Resurfacing for about $550,000.

An agreement with Charter/Spectrum to complete the repairs for the 6th & Scott Streetscape project for $34,373.50.

An agreement to hire Third Rock Consultants to provide environmental consulting services associated with the MS4 Permit Support Phase I Program Development for $65,000.

$37 million in federal money

Commissioner Washington noted in his post-meeting comments that he’d heard from many residents who wondered what would be done with an estimated $37 million in federal funding promised to the area as part of stimulus recovery.

Johnston said the city is waiting for guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Washington said he just wanted to make sure there was “good policy, and good discussion” over how to implement the funds.

“When we know, you’ll know,” Johnston said.

Executive Session

At the end of their meeting, Commissioners elected to go into Executive Session for the discussion of future acquisition of real estate, as well as collective bargaining-related issues.

Next meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., May 11, at the City Building at 20 W. Pike St. in Covington.

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