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Friday, May 10, 2019

City Council Roundup: Pedestrian Safety, Street Repairs, Park Improvements

Tower Park is already a jewel in the city's crown and improvements are planned. (FTM file)

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

Things are moving along for many ongoing city projects, City Administrator Ron Dill told city council recently.

Here is a smattering of recent decisions, projects and plans around town.

Parks and recreation improvements

At its most recent meeting, the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee worked on a plan for park improvements based on those suggested in the Fort Thomas Community Plan. The largest project is the replacement of the picnic shelter, known as Shelter Number 3, in Tower Park. Also in Tower Park, the basketball, tennis and volleyball courts would be upgraded and the parking area reconfigured, adding a few more spaces. New play equipment, benches and tables are planned as well as a bocce court and improved walkways. The committee has approved the plan and recommended adoption and inclusion in the budget process.

The committee also looked at costs and options for outdoor exercise equipment for the parks around town. The potential costs for individual pieces of equipment ranged from $1,000 to $8,000. Staff is looking into potential locations to determine the appropriate equipment. The committee also recommended the development of a sponsorship program to help defray the costs. 
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General Thomas statue

The location adjacent to South Fort Thomas Avenue at the south side entrance to Tower Park is the suggested spot for the General Thomas statue. The Parks and Recreation Commission met and made the recommendation after a separate General Thomas Committee worked with the sculptor to review ideas.

Members of the statue committee, Bob Heil and Chris Manning made presentations of potential locations to city council, which then referred it to Parks and Recreation for further exploration. A plaza, additional landscaping and an access to the playground would be included. Fundraising for the statue continues. To donate, see the General Thomas statue donation website.

RELATED: A First Look at the General Thomas Statue

Pedestrian safety and traffic initiatives

A number of residents have addressed council in recent months with concerns about drivers exceeding the speed limit, disregarding crosswalks and other issues. City council members discussed the issue and are exploring ways to increase awareness around town.

Dill said the installation of beacons and other improvements at area schools is continuing. During spring break, Highlands High School received its beacon at the crosswalk. The intention is to complete slated crosswalk work at both Highlands Middle School and St. Thomas School as soon as classes let out for summer break.

RELATED: Crosswalk Safety Features Cap Off Moyer Project

In other traffic news, Dill said the city met with the state transportation department and the city of Southgate to discuss improvements near I-471 and US 27 where the state is rebuilding parts of the road. Grass is being replaced in the medians. While both Fort Thomas and Southgate are involved, but Southgate has agreed to take over most of the maintenance.

Exploration of the icing situation on Memorial Parkway near the Overlook Apartments continues. While the warm weather means ice is not likely for a long while, Dill said the city is continuing to attend discussions between the apartment developer, the state department of transportation, engineers and others to get to the root of the problem. This issue falls under the jurisdiction of the state, but Fort Thomas officials are keeping a close eye on the situation.

RELATED: Car Loses Control on Memorial Parkway, Towed from Ditch

Street repair program

The 2019 Street Repair and Resurfacing program has had a public hearing with property owners and was recommended by the Public Works committee and sent to the council for approval. The second reading will happen at the May council meeting and work should get underway as the weather permits.

The streets in the program this year include.

  • Fairview Place at the intersection of Sherman to its terminus
  • Grant Street at the intersection Alexandria Pike to its intersection with Sheridan Avenue
  • North Fort Thomas Avenue at the intersection of Covert Run Pike to its intersection with Lincoln Road
  • Ohio Avenue at the intersection of Taylor Avenue to its terminus
  • Ridgeway Avenue at the intersection of Ohio Avenue to its terminus
  • Sheridan Avenue at the intersection of Grant Street to its terminus
  • Sherman Avenue at the intersection of Grant Street to its terminus
  • East Vernon Lane, West Vernon Lane and South Vernon Lane beginning with East Vernon Lane at intersection of Highland Avenue continuing to South Vernon Lane and continuing to West Vernon Lane to its ending intersection of Highland Avenue

Construction costs will be shared 50/50 city/property owner with the exception of North Fort Thomas Avenue, which would be 60/40, providing for the payment of an improvement assessment.

As in the past questions about the program and how to determine which streets are eligible for a 60/40 split was discussed at the Public Works meeting. While no changes have been made, members of the committee agreed that the topic may be revisited as plans for 2020 begin.

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