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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

City Council Meeting Notes 3-17-13 (VA Homes Timetable, FTPD Annual Report)

By Pat Lafleur
Fort Thomas Matters, City Beat Writer

Mayor Mary Brown put in her closing remarks, this was a busy meeting.

One might consider it, however, more of a busy-work meeting. Much of it was rather procedural, including re-readings of ordinance amendments and role-call votes on a number of expenditure-related issues.

But here are the two highlights worth noting.

The first third of Council’s attention this week was duly directed toward the Fort Thomas Police Department. The meeting began with Police Chief Michael Daly awarding Officer Chris Goshorn the Samaritan Citation Award. The award recognizes Off. Goshorn’s above-and-beyond service toward an elderly woman stranded in her own home without food, family/friends’ support, or even the ability to call 911 in an emergency.

“Chris has always shown compassion while wearing this uniform,” Chief Daly remarked, commending Off. Goshorn’s 18 years of service. 

Officer Goshorn’s family was present to celebrate his achievement, making up - as he himself was sure to quip - more than half the residents in attendance (the whole right side of the room is there to celebrate Goshorn).

Chief Daly continued, to deliver the FTPD’s 2012 Annual Report, which outlined a number of issues faced in 2012. Among those were:

1.  The FTPD recorded a case-closure rate of 44% for the year 2012, beating the national average for municipalities by roughly 19 points. He attributed this to the FTPD’s dedication to treating every case, whether misdemeanor or felonious, as central to ensuring Fort Thomas’s safety and security.

2..  FTPD training now includes preparation for mass shooter situations. Chief Daly made sure to inform Council of the rising cost of firearms and the effect on the FTPD’s rigorous ammunition training and diligent inventory.

3.  That said, Chief Daly also made sure to commend Fort Thomas’s SWAT members for placing 2nd in a state-wide SWAT competency and preparedness competition, falling short only to the KY State Police.

4.  Chief Daly applauded collaboration between FTPD’s patrol and investigation units for successfully preventing 2 burglaries in Fort Thomas through data analysis and criminal activity prediction in 2012, a strategy the Police Chief seems eager to explore further.

The FTPD 2012 Annual Report should post to the FTPD’s website in the coming days. We will hit the highlights at FTM, once again. 

The other noteworthy topic this evening was the continuing effort by the City to acquire the VA homes located in Tower Park. At long last, City Administrator Don Martin was able to offer a time-table and budget estimate for renovating these houses into inhabitable homes.

After a final, minor revision to the contract, we’re looking at a January 2014 start-date for the removal of hazardous materials (primarily asbestos and lead) from the properties, renovation and rehabilitation by Fall 2014, and occupancy by Fall 2015.

(To slightly editorialize for a moment: I moved to Fort Thomas over 20 years ago, and I don’t remember ever seeing so much as a porch lit on one of those houses. As such, it was a surprise to hear Mayor Brown react to the 2015 occupancy estimate by asking, “It’ll take that long?)

As Mr. Martin expressed, this is all assuming there are no more set backs and that the VA keeps on its promised schedule. He did seem encouraged by the near-completeness of the agreement between the City and the VA.

This encouragement is shadowed, though, by Mr. Martin’s revelation that, since their last appraisal in 2007, these houses have depreciated in value by nearly 80%. Even more staggering, given the City’s estimate of roughly $500K for biohazard material abatement and property re-sale, that’s nearly $2 million in lost property value over the last 5 years alone.

It doesn’t take a math whiz to know that’s a load of money.

All that said... Lengthy (but warranted) discussion of those two items shortened discussion of these:

1.  The announcement of an upcoming study to re-measure the deer population in Fort Thomas (a report Mayor Brown hopes will validate new action taken toward controlling the deer population).

2.  A partnership between the City and Ft. Thomas Independent Schools to renovate Woodfill Elementary’s softball field.

3.  Highland Park’s trails are to be renovated.

4.  Council approved a re-zoning of industrial park space to include physical fitness facilities (welcome to Ft. Thomas, Cross-Fit).’

5.  WeatherSpotters will conduct a training session this Thursday from 6:30-9:00 in the City Building (walk-ins welcome).

6.  Oh, and not to mention that the city will probably escape being sued by the Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition for failing to remove from its website a municipal ordinance that Council actually repealed in 2007 prohibiting guns in public parks. (The K3C, as their called, allegedly has seven or eight similar lawsuits filed against other KY municipalities, according to Ft. Thomas legal counsel Jann Seidenfaden.) Council approved a motion to submit the case for dismissal.

Busy meeting. Lots of things that could warrant their own stories... Stay tuned.


  1. In regards to the VA Houses, what is the thinking behind the City undertaking the hazardous materials removal? If you turned those over to private enterprise you could have that done in about 30 days for probably half the cost. Speaking of cost, who's paying for the cleanup? Any right thinking business person would agree that the City should get the houses from the Feds and then put out a request for private developers to submit a proposal for the clean up and redevelopment.

  2. I often walk in the Fort, and have to question whether the VA homes are even salvagable at this point? They are all in deplorable condition, and I'm not confident there is any way to bring them back to a livable condition without investing a lot more money than they would ultimately be worth.

  3. Why is money being spent on updating a softball field when two of the grade schools (Moyer and Johnson) need renovating on the inside? Moyer's bathrooms are in deplorable shape and I know there are issues at Johnson, too. Are there plans for these two schools in the near future?