Covington High Street project head of schedule; Village receives $250,000 grant for park project

By Kelsi Langston

For the Miami Valley Today

COVINGTON — The High Street project is ahead of schedule, which was on the list of discussion items at Covington’s Village Council meeting on Tuesday night. Village Administrator Kyle Hinkelman said this week the Ohio Department of Transportation is working on curbs and the rough coat for phase one of the project.

Hinkelman also announced Covington has received a $250,000 grant from the State of Ohio Capital Budget thanks to support from State Senator Steve Huffman. This brings the total funds raised toward the park project to $1.5 million. The third item discussed was the closing of Dodd Street at Pearl Street and State Route 41 to eliminate traffic using the street as an unsafe shortcut. As part of this discussion, plans were presented to the council for review before a formal resolution will be considered.

Upon its first reading, a resolution allowing the village to hire the engineering services necessary for demolition of the Rudy Property was waived of the three-reading rule and approved. This resolution also allows for the hiring of the engineering services needed for future reconstruction of property. However, this resolution does not authorize the bid to demolish the building. A resolution for a Memorandum of Understanding between the village and Covington Savings and Loan was also waived of the three-reading rule and approved upon first reading. The first reading was held for an ordinance amending the zoning map for 301 E. Troy Pike.

A resolution authorizing the village administrator to enter into an agreement for the site design of the Amphitheater in Schoolhouse Park, a resolution toward an update to the village’s Strategic Plan for 2022 to 2023, and a resolution authorizing a contract amendment to the site design contract for Schoolhouse Park were all passed after their third readings.

Councilmembers again held a discussion over an ordinance that would formally adopt a policy related to meeting streaming. Currently, council meetings are streamed live via YouTube but are not stored for the public to view later. An argument was raised that many residents cannot watch the meetings live due to illness, work, or other schedule conflicts. The council had considered storing the meetings for 24 to 48 hours but were advised by village legal counsel that meetings stored for streaming would be considered public record and would take an act of council, amongst other legalities, to be removed. Several council members urged more village residents to attend meetings to share their input on controversial issues like streaming meetings.

“I think that’s what’s important. We’re trying to go through the steps of the first, second, [and] third reading so that the community members do have the opportunity to express their opinions,” said Councilwoman Amy Welborn. “There’s 2,000 people in Covington, and there’s two people in the audience.” This was the second reading for the ordinance. The third reading will occur at the June 20 village council meeting.