City Council members found themselves split at Monday's City Council meeting over several major issues currently facing Fort Thomas, including bow hunting, gun control, and a new Midway business development proposal:
"Midway There" Project
The meeting began with Fort Thomas Planning Commission member, local business owner, and Fort Thomas resident Bob Heil presenting a plan for the Stables building, a decommissioned military building located adjacent to Tower Park and Fort Thomas's Midway Business District.
Representing a collective of local community leaders and business owners, including Council member Ken Bowman and Fort Thomas Renaissance Manager Debbie Buckley, Heil explained that he has already received a letter of intent from the Pentagon to relinquish ownership of the building to the City.
Calling themselves "Midway There," their vision is "to spur even more investment in the district through an approach that creates a sustainable everyday business environment," said Heil.
While the presentation did not offer any cost estimates, it did outline plans for renovation as well as the types of businesses the building would host, primarily including arts-, health-, and food-oriented establishments. Heil mentioned a yoga studio, performance studio, and local food vendors as potential tenants.
As for who specifically might occupy the Stables, no names were mentioned. But, according to Buckley, the ball is already rolling: "We have talked to several small businesses interested in using the space."
Gun Control Proposal
Council member Ken Bowman presented a resolution that would ask state legislators to enact a three-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm in Kentucky.
According to a report from WXIX last week, the resolution is in part a response to the shooting at 20 N. Grand Ave. involving Fort Thomas residents DJ Mathis and Alisha Waters. The contention between Bowman and fellow council member Tom Lampe, previewed by the same report, did play out.
"I've always been of the opinion that anybody that needs a gun should be able to wait three days. I don't think that is too much to ask," said Bowman.
Lampe voiced concerns, however, that a three-day waiting period would do very little to prevent crime and would, instead, make it more difficult for a law-abiding resident to obtain a firearm for personal protection purposes.
Council member Jay Fossett embodied the split thinking on the issue, pointing out that while gun ownership is an important value for many area residents, experience with gun violence led him to vote in favor of the resolution.
Council member Eric Haas also chimed in, asking if this is really the sort of task a local city council should be shouldering.
According to Bowman, it is about setting precedent: "It will be my hope that other cities see that we did it here, and they draft similar resolutions," Bowman told Fox 19.
The resolution passed with a 3-2 vote (Council member Roger Peterman abstained).
Bow Hunting Ordinance
Monday night also saw the first reading of city ordinance 015.2013, a revision of a previous ordinance that allowed for bow hunting within city limits under certain conditions.
The new ordinance expands those conditions to add approximately 90 more days to the hunting season, and to amend the types of land-plots on which bow hunting can occur.
Despite this being a first reading, contention flared again among council members, and even a few residents showed up to voice further support and concern for the new ordinance.
A second reading will take place at the next city council meeting in two weeks.
City Administrator's Report
City Administrator Don Martin's report this week was brief. The maintenance work on the Towne Center is proving effective, with littering, loitering, and vandalism all down since the project began, he said. "The problem isn't solved yet, but it's moving in the right direction."
Martin also announced the upcoming Good Government Summit, to be hosted by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen to address recent cases of corruption among several northern Kentucky local governments. The summit will take place at the METS Center in Erlanger on Oct. 15th.