Covington's streetscape project sparks controversy

COVINGTON, KENTUCKY (FOX19) - Brand new sidewalk pavers in downtown Covington are sparking controversy.

Some residents say the city is wasting taxpayer money by replacing perfectly good bricks. However, the city says the move is necessary.

Phases one and two of the streetscape project included a multi-colored brick pattern all along Madison Avenue, but City Services Manager Mike Yeager says they discovered a problem.

There are basements underneath that could collect water if they used those particular bricks.

"We brought in a structural engineer to actually look at the basements to find out what it would cost to actually fill them in or put a structural slab over the top," explained Mike Yeager.

However, Yeager says that would have cost them over $300,000. Therefore, the next best option was to spend about $50,000 to replace the multi-colored bricks with solid polymer ones to prevent seepage issues.

"By spending the $50,000, it's not ideal but it's a lot better than spending the $350,000 to fill in the basement," said Yeager.

Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims wrote in a memo obtained by FOX19 revealing numerous issues related to this project began before the current staff was in place.

Charlene Dietz is a concerned resident who shuffled through several city documents she was able to dig up. She believes they never even got approval to replace the bricks, and the numbers don't add up.

"I've asked for the breakdown of the $54,000 and they tell me, we don't have that. Yes I feel someone should be charged with felonies," said Dietz.

Dietz believes the whole reason the city is doing this is because they don't like the multi-colored scheme.

"I see nothing wrong with the colors. They're paid for. I think they should leave them alone, and I feel that in a city where we are short police and fire, it's actually a waste," she added.

The city confirmed to FOX19 they did get approval to spend the money on the new bricks.

Dietz says she now plans to submit this issue to the Commonwealth Attorney's Office to look over.

Covington plans to start advertising for bids on phase three of the streetscape project on Saturday, and it's expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

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