Tuesday, September 30, 2008

US 27 Re-alignment

As many of you have probably experienced driving between the Y and Highland Heights the state has re-configured the old 4-lane road to a 2 lane road with a center turn lane. I was very disappointed that more defined and wider bike paths were not included in the reconfiguration.

A recent article on Cincinnati.com sheds some light on what the state was thinking as they indicate the road was not wide enough to accommodate the turn lane and bike paths. The highway department's spokesperson indicates "dedicated bike lanes could not be included in this project due to roadway width restrictions."

What do you think? Personally the turn lane appears to be wider than normal and I would really like to see a wider shoulder for bike path.

Creating Places that Matter

Thanks to our friends at Soapbox Media (you should sign up for their weekly emails as there is good information - although focused more on the Ohio side of the river) we learn about a conference at the Duke Energy center this coming weekend focused on creating communities that matter. The sub-text of the conference is "Building Valued Neighborhoods Through Form-Based Code"

This sounds like a great event with break-out sessions that include:
  • Communities and buildings following form based codes (FBC) are magnets for talent and energy.
  • Governments and communities reap the benefits of nourishing community character using form-based codes. Emphasis on neighborhood spaces and places makes both established and new communities walkable and engaging places to live, work, and play.
While many of you were not able to attend the council forum last night these are the types of ideas I would like to see the city pursue in relation to planning and zoning that can help spur development and create an environment for new businesses to thrive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More on the 2015 Greenway Plan

I mentioned in my post this weekend about the Vision 2015 Greenways plan (link here). Human Nature, a company focused on designing public spaces is a key component of this plan and you can actually view some of the plans and proposals on this site. If you view a larger view of the second map you can see some of the specific details. One thing of particular interest is 2 storm-water basins that connect Ft Thomas to the Licking River Greenway. Either of these could serve as a means of connecting Tower Park to this park spine for the entire Northern Kentucky region.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vision 2015's Regional Park Network

Vision 2015 shed some additional attention on the parks component of the Vision 2015 plan this week including an open house to solicit input and share the vision along the Licking watershed. The regional parks plan is an important component of Northern Kentucky's development and the idea of making the under-utilized Licking River in this plan is a great idea.

According to the article:
  1. The regional parks plan calls for doubling the park acreage in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties during the next seven years. Now, there are 185 parks on 5,300 acres across the counties.
  2. “We don’t have a system of parks, we have a collection of parks,” said Mike Phillips, coordinator of Vision 2015’s parks initiative.
  3. Planners envision a regional parks system connected by trails, waterways and greenways. The plans call for more trails, cultural destinations and tournament-quality athletic facilities.
  4. The system would center around existing “crown jewels” like the Boone County Arboretum, Devou Park, Doe Run Lake and the Ohio and Licking rivers.
  5. Schaeffer said funding sources will include grants, public-private partnerships and local funding.

I would like to see Tower Park become a component of this plan as well and I have contacted Mike to discuss that possibility. I don't understand why Tower Park is not considered one of the "crown jewels" given the world-class mountain biking trails and the desire to have cultural destinations and tournament-quality athletic facilities. Upgrades to the park could really make Tower Park a world class destination and a cornerstone of the Midway redevelopment.

I would also like to hear anyone's ideas on how to connect Tower Park to the Licking River plan. Does anyone know of a watershed connection that could be used as a bike trail to connect the Licking trail and Tower Park?

Update on Memorial Apartments

There were some updates this week in the press concerning the apartments on Memorial Parkway (mentioned here in a post from this past December). There appeared to be some contradiction in the articles between the developer, the Enquirer, and City Council.

What is clear is that the development has been delayed (The Enquirer uses the word 'halted') until at least next year - see the first article here.

A follow-up article, a day later, appeared to be a response from the developer as he indicated it was just postponed. The developer seems to indicate that it will be re-started in the spring but has been postponed. While these types of delays are generally ominous, the developer makes a point about the investment that has already been made (almost $1 million to date) and the market potential given the great views of downtown.

Some of the big questions that remain include:
  1. Will the developer do enough to prevent erosion and keep the lot that has been cleared from becoming over-grown and unsightly?
  2. Will the city complete the sidewalk in front of the development or will that section remain unfinished until the development is re-started?
  3. Did the city do enough to qualify the developer if the project was as big as it apparently is?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ballot Positions set for November Council Election

I spoke with the Campbell County Elections office this week and obtained the ballot order for the upcoming election, posted below. I apologize in advance for any mis-spellings.

1. Lisa Kelly
2. R Peterman
3. S. Dauer
4. T Lampe
5. J Sorrentino
6. J Canter
7. Doepker
8. Stiller
9. B Levine-Thompson
10. Eric Haas
11. Darrin Murriner

I got a stroke of bad luck and landed the last spot on the ballot, please spread my name to overcome this disadvantage.

You may be asking yourself, 'why does the ballot position matter?' It appears we have a very uniformed electorate that in many cases will vote for the first 6 people on the ballot rather than educating themselves on the positions and spending 10 extra seconds voting for the most appropriate candidate.

Recent Events

Since it has been a couple of weeks since my last post I thought I would bring you a collection of small stories that have been reported elsewhere with a little commentary:

  1. Status update on the Midway - this was a recent article in the Enquirer from a recent Council meeting. The story covers other topics including the city's approval to put the Fort Thomas name on toy police cars and fire trucks from Mattel. However, buried at the bottom of the article is a note about Council's approval to move forward with street scape improvements despite the state's delay in re-orienting the intersection with River Road. I am happy to moving ahead with street scape improvements but I hope this does not result in re-work once the state is ready to complete their work.
  2. Park improvements - this story, also from the Enquirer, discusses some changes coming to area parks. The first point is on Highland Park that includes the conversion of the tennis courts to sand volleyball courts. I think this is a good decision as the courts were in bad shape and without the lighting that Tower Park has they just didn't get the use. Rossford Park is getting some additional fill and will be used for pee wee football and soccer practices. West Southgate Park will get a new wall and playground equipment and there will be a new pocket park next to the treatment plant on Memorial. The good news in all this is that there are some real improvements here as opposed to just a corner with some benches and flowers.
  3. Police facilities upgraded - Council voted last night to invest $1.2 million in the city building for the police department. While I have never been inside the police department, and I have no doubt that the facilities are dated, I find it hard to believe that you could spend $1.2 million in improving a small corner of the city building. I would love to hear more specific details on what is being remodeled. The article did mention a replacement of the heating and air and that is surely costly but $1.2 million sure seems excessive.