Covington Mayor’s Beautification Awards handed out


By Kelsi Langston

For Miami Valley Today

COVINGTON — Village of Covington Mayor Ed McCord presented 10 homes with the annual Mayor’s Beautification Award at the Aug. 22 village of Covington Council meeting.

The homeowners received a proclamation from the mayor for improving and beautifying their properties over time.

“Covington has always been a village of a lot of pride [in a] lot of areas, and one of them is homeownership,” said McCord.

Although there were no specific criteria the mayor used when choosing the winning properties, he did look at things like curb appeal, landscaping, improvements, and maintenance of the exterior. The winning properties were 39 N. Ludlow St., 304 Walnut St., 301 E. Walnut St., 325 Harrison St., 294 N. Ludlow St., 312 S. Wall Street, 403 N. High St., 307 Debra St., 124 Spring St., and 307 Grant St.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Jeff Shields questioned council regarding the timeline and estimated completion date of the parking lot near Schoolhouse Park. He was advised the timeline would be addressed later in the meeting. Shields also stated concerns over the quality of the concrete work being done for curbs at the new park, and that although he appreciated that some of the concrete has been removed, he is disappointed in the lack of inspection on the project. He shared that despite the council having expressed the village is not held to the same standards as residents and local businesses, he hopes the village will take pride in its own projects and deliver better quality for the community.

Resident Terry Garman expressed concern with the cost of remodeling and adding on to the Government Center, a project which is estimated at $2,610,798. Although Garman broke the cost down per-square-foot for perspective, he was advised that due to the cost including work on the parking lot and other exterior features, the total cost of the project cannot be accurately depicted by the cost per-square-foot. Garman asked council to determine wants versus needs, and to consider only undertaking the portions of the project that are desperately needed at this time, such as a new roof and windows.

In other business, McCord appointed Derek Shively to the Planning Commission, which fills the vacancy after the recent resignation of Nick Church.

Also during the meeting, Village Administrator Kyle Hinkelman shared updates on both phases of Schoolhouse Park currently underway. He said village personnel, legal counsel, and the contractor are working to solve various issues at the former Rudy Elevator property, and he will share further updates as they become available. As for site work, the village and several contractors are working together to find water and sewer lines and complete work as they are able. The goal is still for the remaining concrete work at the site will be completed by the first week of September, with the playground and pavilion being installed the second week of September. The new wastewater treatment plant is progressing well and is currently ahead of schedule and under budget. He also addressed recent questions regarding utilities and who is responsible for the cost to repair lines. Homeowners are responsible for anything from the street to their homes, which he stated is the same for almost all residents throughout Miami County.

Hight Street light pole decorations were once again a topic of discussion. Hinkelman proposed purchasing 50-inch wreaths and garland for 11 light poles at a total cost of $11,000. He is also recommending holiday banners for all 28 poles on High Street. The village would need to partner with service organizations in the community to fund around $7000 of the total cost for the decorations. Hinkelman is working to get an official package price from the vendor and will bring that to council as a resolution at a future meeting.

Council then approved an ordinance amending the village employee manual to increase cellphone allowance as well as an ordinance updating the village’s fee schedule. They approved a resolution to update and replace the records retention policy and schedules. Council members waived the three-reading rule in order to approve a resolution for lighting district assessments. A second reading was held for a resolution which would adopt the Miami County hazard mitigation plan five-year update.

A resolution to adopt a name for a roadway, which had previously been tabled, was taken off the table for discussion and a first reading. The village received 366 responses to its survey asking residents to vote between two potential names for the new street located at Schoolhouse Park. Buccaneer Way received 207 votes, and Rudy Way received 159 votes. The council has not yet decided on a name and will discuss the decision at a future meeting. A first reading was held for a resolution authorizing the village administrator to accept bids for the Schoolhouse Park pavilion and splash pad. The village has received bids from three contractors, with a recommendation from the project engineers to utilize Westerhide as their bid came in lower than the estimated cost for this phase of the park. This would potentially give the village an extra $60,000 of project funds to use towards paving the parking lot at the park which is part of an alternate bid. Hinkelman did advise the council that due to timing, he would ask them to consider waiving the three-reading rule at the Sept. 5 council meeting. The mayor took a moment to remind residents the funds going towards Schoolhouse Park came from grants and donations, not taxes.

Council also head a first reading of a resolution authorizing Hinkelman to request proposals for an addition and remodel of the Village Government Center. This project has been an ongoing conversation since fall of 2022, and the village held an open house on August 16 so that residents could learn more and ask questions about the project. Hinkelman said the concerns he’s heard from residents are consistently regarding village finances and the debt it would put the village in to complete the project. It has been 17 years since the last major investment was put into the building, which came at a cost of $1 million and did not include replacing the roof. Hinkelman stated regardless, the village will need to do some level of repair as there is major decay of the roof, walls and windows. After reviewing several options, renovating the existing building costs the least and is the most cost effective. The project would include moving the Memorial Walk and pavilion currently located at the Government Center to Community Park, as well as adding parking spaces and repairs to the existing parking lot. A resident inquired if the addition would allow the community to be able to complete their taxes in-house rather than having to utilize the tax department in St. Marys, Ohio, to which Hinkelman responded that this issue is not related to the remodel but could be addressed in the future. The project has been listed as part of the village’s strategic plan and is broken down for residents to view on the village website.

McCord called a special council meeting to be held on Monday, August 28 at 7 pm. This meeting will be used only for the second reading and discussion of the resolution regarding proposals for the government center addition and remodel. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 5 ,at 7 p.m. due to the Labor Day holiday.

The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.

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