Sunday, August 13, 2000

Covington reclaiming city park


Seeks to oust undesirables

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The picturesque MainStrasse Village — especially Goebel Park, with its landmark Carroll Chimes Bell Tower — has long been a popular tourist destination.

        But, all too often, residents and community leaders say, visitors lured by the Pied Piper of Hamelin's hourly musical performances must deal with unwanted intrusions.

        Those include everything from panhandlers to people drinking or engaging in sexual acts in the bushes, to vagrants sleeping in the park's picnic shelter, they say.

        “One of the main goals of the residents is to reclaim their park,” said Rachel DeLugish, neighborhood development coordinator with the Covington Community Center. “A lot of homeless guys hang out there, and it's not something you want your 3-year-old to be around.”

        To encourage MainStrasse property owners and residents to show their pride in Goebel Park, the MainStrasse Neighbors Association and Covington's neighborhoods, parks and recreation department are sponsoring a Goebel Park Fix-Up Day, starting at 8 a.m. Saturday.

        Volunteers will paint the shelter house, trim trees and bushes, and generally spruce up the German-style park that is visible from Covington's Fifth Street exit off Interstate 75.

        At last month's meeting of the MainStrasse Neighbors Association, residents agreed that beautification of the neighborhood, and, in particular, Goebel Park, should be the group's No. 1 goal in the upcoming year.

        “This is the entrance to our city, and we want it to look nice,” said longtime resident Joe Mueller.

        Mr. Mueller was among dozens attending a MainStrasse block party in Goebel Park on Saturday. Hot dogs were cooked on three double grills recently installed by the city, and children tossed water balloons and had their faces painted.

        “When I was growing up, I played in this park, and I want my child to be able to play here too,” said neighborhood activist Sandy Arnold, as her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Jessica, played with relatives nearby. “When something looks good, it attracts a different type of crowd. People have more respect for it.”

        Denny Bowman, Covington's director of parks and recreation, said city workers recently removed some of the bushes behind the bell tower. The city has asked police to step up park patrols, as a deterrent to unwanted visitors, Mr. Bowman said.

        Next month, volunteers from the Internal Revenue Service will trim overgrown bushes and remove growth on the park's hillside facing I-75, so that the “Welcome to Covington” sign is once again visible from the interstate, Mr. Bowman said.

        With the help of $2,500 from the MainStrasse Village Association, the city also plans to plant ivy, or other ground cover, next spring, he said.

        Other improvements soon planned or already in the works: the removal of dead trees near play areas, the blacktopping of the park's tennis and basketball courts, new basketball courts for younger children, and the installation of toddler-size swing sets.

        The MainStrasse Village Association also has ordered seven decorative street signs for the neighborhood's most visible intersections.

       



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