Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Crestview Hills puts merger to rest

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - Talk of a possible merger between Crestview Hills and Lakeside Park was essentially killed Monday night, when officials voted 5 to 1 against taking part in a merger study.

Several Crestview Hills council members said they couldn't see how benefits could outweigh the disadvantages.

Council Member Frank Sommerkamp Jr. said the issue is pitting neighbor against neighbor, while Council Member Joe Maloney said "a few people stirred the pot'' in pushing for a merger study.

"I'm sorry we even got to this point,'' Maloney said. "I think most of the people of Lakeside Park don't want a merger with Crestview Hills.''

Council Member David Kramer cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he didn't necessarily favor a merger, but felt a professional study would highlight the risks and benefits of combining the neighboring Kenton County cities that currently share a police department.

Several in the audience of 35 applauded when council announced its vote.

"They preferred a bedroom community and that's what they have,'' Crestview Hills resident Shirley Hatter said of the predominately residential Lakeside Park. Crestview Hills resident Bob Zumbiel said he couldn't see the benefits for Crestview Hills, in light of Lakeside Park's "deteriorating infrastructure'' and "roads that need work.'' Reached at her home Monday night, Lakeside Park Mayor Karen Gamel described her city as solvent with sound infrastructure and many newly-repaired roads. She said she doesn't expect Lakeside Park officials to pursue a possible merger with any of their other neighbors.

"I believe it's a dead issue,'' Gamel said. "We weren't looking at a merger study because city council and the mayor wanted to pursue it. It was because constituents wanted to pursue it.''

The Jan. 12 Lakeside Park City Council meeting resulted in an unexpected vote to move forward with a study. Council voted 4-3, with Gamel casting the tie-breaking vote, to pay $1,935, or half of the cost of a $3,870 study.On Monday, Lakeside Park resident Ken Henrickson asked people on both sides of the issue to keep an open mind and debate the pros and cons of a possible merger "after you get the facts.''

Henrickson is the husband of Lakeside Park Council Member Debbie Henrickson asked Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier about sharing in the costs of a study after residents asked her to look into a possible merger.

More than two dozen Lakeside Park residents expressed opinions on the merger Jan. 12, with most speaking against it. Lakeside opponents were concerned that Dixie Highway properties would be rezoned from residential to commercial.


E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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