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Thursday, March 20, 2014

UPDATE: Reservoir Walking Paths Remain Water District's Decision

Editor's note: FTM first broke this story on Wednesday, as part of our bi-weekly City Council Round-Up series. Upon publication, we consulted City Administrator Don Martin, who added clarification to a few of the points. This re-post is intended to bring those clarifications into focus for our readers.

In the final minutes of Monday night's City Council meeting, Council member and chairman of the Public Utilities Committee Ken Bowman proposed that Council consider working with the Northern Kentucky Water District (NKWD) to reopen the walking paths surrounding its water treatment facility off S. Fort Thomas Ave.

The fences currently surrounding the reservoirs were erected shortly after the September 11th attacks in 2001, as part of an increase in security mandated by Homeland Security.

"I think enough time has passed that we can consider reopening to the public," Bowman said.

City Administrator Don Martin has consulted NKWD and confirmed that, if the the immediate vicinity surrounding the reservoirs were reopened to the general public, the city would have to assume all liability should an incident occur that would endanger the city or the region's water supply. "We'll need to check with our insurance company to see how that would impact our premiums," Martin said.

Council member and current mayoral candidate Eric Haas, who participated in discussions with NKWD, noted that prior attempts to reopen the walking paths were met with strict resistance, but added, "In our latest talks, there was a willingness to at least have a conversation." Haas is the chairman of the Public Works Committee.

Haas also wonders, though, if current demand for access to the walking paths is as high today as it was when they were closed, before the city had invested in several parks projects. "Now that the parks are improved, it didn't seem to be as much of an issue," he said.

In a post-meeting comment, Martin also added, "(The city's) parks are a tremendous asset to our residents and include multiple walking paths. The NKWD property is a water treatment facility, not a park. This facility provides the water supply for most of Northern Kentucky. This fact must be taken into consideration." 

Ultimately, there is little that the council can actually do to reopen the walking paths, according to Martin, who has brought up the issue with NKWD on several occasions. "This is not a city council issue. There is no vote or action they can take to compel the NKWD to open the path," Martin told FTM. "A better approach would be for residents to petition NKWD... It is solely their decision."

Photo: Reservoir, South Fort Thomas/FTM file

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