Friday, October 22, 2004

Covington studying Madison

Effort aims to revive avenue that once was city's center

By Lori Cox
Enquirer contributor

COVINGTON - Madison Avenue, once a thriving shopping thoroughfare, is plagued by vacant buildings, crime and littered streets. City officials want to change that by combining historic landmarks with new initiatives to draw people to the city.

Second public hearing on Madison Avenue improvements
Where: Holmes High School
When: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18
A three-month, $41,000 redevelopment study began Tuesday with the first of three public meetings. About 60 community members came to exchange ideas for the future of the corridor from 12th Street to the Ky. 16/17 split.

"Downtown Covington was recognized as 'the downtown' in the 1970s. The environment has changed," said Ella Frye, economic development director. "We have a lot ... going on downtown and on the riverfront. It's time to connect that with (Covington)," she said.

More off-street parking, better traffic flow, improved sidewalks, lighting and greenery, reducing crime and maintaining historic landmarks were issues discussed.

Frye said the Corradino Group of Louisville will use public comments and a steering committee from 15 neighborhoods to assess needs and formulate a plan.

Rick Ludlum, president of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association and a member of the steering committee, said the plan combines historic and neighborhood aspects with commercialization.

"We need a shining star like Newport has with (Newport on) the Levee," Ludlum said.

Some aren't as optimistic.

Marshall Slagle of the Wallace Woods Neighborhood Association said re-routing traffic from Greenup and Scott streets to Madison, first studied by the Corradino Group in 1985, should be assessed along with redevelopment since increased traffic is vital to a successful commercial area.

"The two (studies) should be done together. It's a real problem. I'm concerned the city is playing games with us," he said.

Frye said a separate analysis of north/south traffic will be conducted in January 2005.

City officials realize the potential impact of a revitalized corridor and are considering all options, she said.

"We must change the look of the corridor and what it offers. We want to keep people in Covington," Frye said.

It's too early to pinpoint the project cost. City funds, grants and incentives for property owners may be combined to cover costs, Frye said. Both assessments should be finalized by April 2005, in time to incorporate renovations into the 2005 budget, Frye said.

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