Residents voice concerns to Covington Council


By Kelsi Langston

For Miami Valley Today

COVINGTON — Covington Village Council heard from several residents about various issues at Monday evening’s meeting on Sept. 18.

Resident Lois Newman asked council to consider installing a crosswalk with a signal in the downtown area, to which she was advised the village has petitioned the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) several times for a crosswalk and has been denied. Once the project ODOT is conducting is complete, the village can re-evaluate the need itself, but are unable to make any decisions while ODOT is still managing the ongoing project.

Resident Rose Bennett addressed council again over her concerns homeowners are responsible for the cost to dig up portions of the street should a sewer or water line break that is connected to their property. She said she recently paid $4,200 out of pocket to repair a broken sewer line in the street, which involved hiring a contractor who had to dig up a portion of the road in front of her house in order to repair the broken line. Bennett stated she believes the village should be held responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of the streets, and that many of the residents cannot afford such costly repairs. Village Administrator Kyle Hinkelman advised Covington is one of many towns in Miami County of which the policy states homeowners are responsible for specific portions of sewer and water lines that run under the street. He also said village employees will no longer recommend specific contractors to residents due to a liability issue.

Covington homeowner Phyllis Rapp inquired about the status of the sidewalk to be installed in front of her home on North Grant Street. She said her family has not had access to the street in front of her home since December 2022, and they are currently using an alley behind their house to come and go. Hinkelman said the village has terminated the contractor that was working on that portion of the Schoolhouse Park project and is waiting on a bond performance company to complete their investigation on the project before construction can resume. Rapp also shared concerns about the weeds becoming overgrown on the Grant Street basketball courts, and asked if pavement of the Schoolhouse Park parking lot was included in the most recent bid. Hinkelman said he would meet with her separately to address her concerns.

In other business, Village Council heard from several members of the Covington Newberry Historical Society, who are currently leasing the old firehouse building from the village. The Historical Society is facing multiple large repairs to the building, which include new framework around recently replaced garage doors, replacement or refinishing of three entry doors, new windows, exterior paint, updating the restroom, exterior trim paint, fire escape paint, and repair and repainting of interior walls and ceilings. All renovations and repairs made to the building must match its original state due to being on the National Historic Register. The Historical Society has maintained the building, per their 99-year lease that began in 1981. Since the lease began, they have repaired flooring, patched and painted walls, installed restrooms, water hookups, electric, a hot water heater, a fire escape, LED lighting and fans, a window unit air conditioner, interior stairs to the second floor of the building, a furnace, new paint, have placed plexiglass over the windows, have replaced the garage doors twice, and are now having brick tuck pointing being done at a cost to them of $18,500.

During the lease, the village has carried liability insurance, mowed the lawn, provided water service, performed snow removal, installed a new roof in 1981, and donated $5000 toward a new roof in 2022. The Historical Society pointed out various surrounding towns and villages have sold or donated buildings to local historical organizations and asked council to consider donating or selling them the building for a nominal fee. This would allow the Historical Society to apply for federal grants to help pay for the much-needed repairs. The Historical Society was advised that as the building is the only historical structure in the village listed on the National Historic Register, the village will most likely need to retain ownership in order to receive funds for its Downtown Revitalization District. Hinkelman said he would research the village’s options and give an update at a future meeting.

Mayor Ed McCord gave a brief update on the organization of the Hometown Christmas Celebration, which will take place on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The celebration will include a parade starting at 5 p.m., with horse-drawn carriage rides, a chance to meet Santa, live music and vendors. The festivities will all take place near Wright Street, with the vendors set up on the first floor of the Marias building. A tree lighting will take place at 8 p.m.

In his administrator’s report, Hinkelman shared an update on the new wastewater treatment plant, which is still on schedule. Approximately 97% of the procurement for the project has been done, and the SBR and UV portions of the project are complete. The contractor has started construction on the headworks, dewatering and blowering building. Schoolhouse Park site work is done except for a curb on the east side of Maple Street due to a catch basin that wasn’t purchased. Grading, parking spaces, and asphalt will be scheduled once the catch basin is received. Playground equipment has been received, and grading, groundwork and playground surface should be completed by the end of the week, weather permitting.

“It’s very likely, though, we will put up signs and not allow anyone on the playground … because it is still a construction zone. So we’re going to have to have a conversation, probably at our next meeting, about how we want to handle that,” Hinkelman said, adding that a number of people have continued to frequent the area despite ongoing construction. “It’s probably not a good idea to have a bunch of kids in that site consistently or telling people to be there when we’re going to likely have grading, and equipment, and trucks and things in and out of there.”

The second round of “Hometown Hero” banners have been installed on the light poles downtown. The village is continuing to work with local organizations to raise funds for holiday decorations, which will be installed before Hometown Christmas. The village has received $7,000 in donations, which is half of the cost for the holiday decorations. They will continue to work with donors to raise the remaining balance.

Also during the meeting, Village Council approved a resolution adopting a name for a new roadway in Schoolhouse Park, and a resolution authorizing the Village Administrator to accept a bid for the Schoolhouse Park Main Pavilion and splash pad. Westerheide Construction will be completing that project, and council woman Amy Welborn again stated her concerns and hopes that the village will hold Westerheide accountable to following a strict timeline.

The next village council meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.

The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.

No posts to display