Monday, November 22, 1999

Monmouth St. make-over project to begin in spring

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The face of Monmouth Street, already transformed by changes in businesses located — or not located — there, will get another make-over beginning this spring when work begins on the streetscape project.

        City Manager Phil Ciafardini has assured city commissioners that the project, funded by grants obtained through the Renaissance City program, will get under way when good weather returns next spring.

        Taking in the stretch of Monmouth Street from Fifth to 11th streets, the project will include removal of all overhead utilities, new paver-style sidewalks and new curbs, and removal or changes to the trees that line the street.

        Eric Avner, the city's Main Street coordinator, said there is $657,000 on hand from grants already awarded, and the administrative staff will apply for another Renaissance grant of about $1.5 million in a few weeks.

        “In the last application we asked for $2 million and got $457,000,” he said. “We're hoping for more this time. We estimated the entire (Monmouth Street) project at $2.6 million last year.”

        Regardless of how much money the city is able to assemble by spring, the work will begin. Mr. Avner said there can be no more delays in a plan that is nearly three years old.

        “We need this to happen,” he said. “We need Monmouth Street to be ready when the Third Street development is completed. We want to be able to attract people from the aquarium and other Third Street attractions to the business district.”

        Monmouth Street once featured adult entertainment bars in nearly every block, but today just three remain.

        Nancy Snodgrass, co-owner of Fantasy In Frosting custom cake designers in the 800 block of Monmouth, can't wait for the city's main drag to get a little gilding.

        “I think it is fantastic,” she said. “If you get all the streetscape to look the same, from the aquarium to the city building, you'll attract more people to this end of the business district. This is the first big thing Newport has done for small businesses in a long time.”

        She said she knew there would be inconvenience during the construction but “the positives outweigh the negatives. We are a specialty shop, like many on Monmouth Street, and our customers will find us.”

        The city also is applying for a $225,000 Renaissance grant to install parking spaces behind Monmouth Street businesses in the 800 block of Orchard Street.


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