Village Council hears multiple residents’ concerns


By Kelsi Langston

For Miami Valley Sunday News

COVINGTON — The Covington Village Council had multiple visitors at their meeting Monday night. Council members heard concerns ranging from overgrown weeds on commercial properties to the potential ramifications from the construction and operation of School House Park to residents’ properties.

The council, along with the village administrator fielded questions from residents regarding School House Park, including movement of above-ground utility poles, placement of the future amphitheater and sidewalks around the basketball courts, and the paving of the future parking lot. The above ground utility poles will be moved outside of the perimeter of the park by AES, as the council voted to waive the three-reading rule and approved the agreement.

As for the placement of the amphitheater, once the village is sure they will have the funds for completion, it will be constructed on the grassy area where the Little Buccs football team has practiced. There will be a sidewalk that goes from Ludlow Street to Wall Street, comparable to the existing sidewalk, that will allow children to continue to walk to school safely. Eventually, the village hopes to install an eight foot sidewalk that would connect Grant Street to Ash Street. One major concern from residents was that the village is not planning to pave the future parking lot in the immediate future. Village Administator Kyle Hinkelman explained that to pave the parking lot would cost an additional $100,000, which the village does not currently have budgeted for paving purposes. However, the village does plan to discuss adding those funds to the 2024 budget. Suggestions were made for alternative options to leaving the parking lot full of loose gravel, such as oiling the gravel or using chip seal treatment, which is when a thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the lot surface, followed by the placement of small aggregate (“chips”). The chips are then compacted to orient the chips for maximum adherence to the asphalt, and excess stone is swept from the surface. Hinkelman advised that he would look into obtaining pricing for both alternatives.

A resident shared the contractor that worked on the former Rudy property knocked out their above ground cable and never informed resident. Instead, the resident had to call Spectrum and have it fixed. Another resident stated they were never told that their gas was being shut off, it was just shut off without warning, and the Centerpoint employee working on the line only came to the resident’s door to turn the gas back on. Hinkelman advised the village will make contractors aware that they are responsible for any damage or site cleanup, but that village needs to hear from anyone affected in a timely manner.Advised to let the village know.

In his administrator’s report, Hinkelman shared Miami County is selecting a contractor for the High Street demolition project that it has taken over. There were initial issues with the base of the building and the county needed to make sure the building to the north was stable enough for demolition. The project is moving forward again, and the village will have more info within the next month.

The School House Park project is continually moving forward. Wagner Paving will be out next week to pave the roadway where the former Rudy property say. The contractors are still working with area homeowners on their approach and grading to make sure it’s what they’re looking for. M&T formally removed roadway on Monday and is scheduled to work at the site for the next four weeks. The village is hopeful the contractor will be done with their entire portion in August, but by contract M&T is not required to be done until November. Paving the parking lot became a talking point for a second time, when Councilwoman Amy Welborn asked if there is a regulation stating when the new parking lot for School House Park has to be paved, or if it has to be paved at all. Although there are regulations requiring commercial lots to be paved, the village is a government entity, which does not fall under zoning regulations that require paving.

“If the council wants to pave it, I’m all about paving it. We just have to understand that there isn’t $100,000 to do that, so I don’t know where that money would come from … when we have the 2024 budget discussion, we can prioritize that,” said Hinkelman.

The village will begin receiving bids on Aug. 10 for the different elements of the park. Hinkelman said that several contractors are interested now that the project has broken down into smaller pieces.

He also shared an update on the new Wastewater Treatment Plant. Concrete has been poured, and the site received steel last week. The project is ahead of schedule and budget, but there is still a lot of project ahead, and the village is hoping to remain ahead of schedule and under budget.

The council addressed the concerns previously brought to them by Terry Garman, a resident who is frustrated with the damage being done to the alley between Thompson Street and the Covington Post Office. Trash and recycling trucks use the alley for pickup in lieu of using portions of High Street. Hinkelman said he met with the public works team to understand why they choose to pick up trash in that alley. The primary reason is a safety issue, particularly around Bridge Street due to traffic. Between Bridge Street and the alley north of Covington Savings and Loan there is no pickup on High Street which is also due to a visual issue. The recommendation from the public works department is to continue picking trash up in the alley, but for the village to look for ways to improve the alley. Ultimately, the trash pickup route is a policy decision, and if council decides to change it, they can.

When asked if the village plans to repair the alley, Hinkelman stated he is working with the county on the difference between what is currently a twelve-foot alley-easement, not a public right-of-way. Hinkelman has been unable to locate the alley-easement in the village book, so the county is trying to locate it in their records.

“[The county] believe it exists. So we have to find it. And once we find it and can prove it exists, then we will service it as though we do any other alley … but we don’t have any actual documentation that shows it as a formal alley. So from a property rights issue, your property goes up to your neighbor behind you and you have a right to that. The village does not until we can prove that that alley exists,”

The council moved to change its Aug. 21 meeting due to the K-12 open house at Covington Schools. The meeting will now be held on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m.

The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Sunday News.

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