WiFi, pedestrian improvements considered for Covington ARPA funds

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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The City of Covington heard more proposals this week for the allocation of its American Rescue Plan Act funds, which include grants to local nonprofit organizations and enhancing city programs.

Some of the items include expanding Covington’s citywide public Wi-Fi system, Covington Connect; infrastructure improvements to sidewalks and streets; and distributing money to four local nonprofits for community improvement projects.

U.S. Census data from 2020 determined the amount of ARPA funds cities received; Covington received a total of $35,914,130.

President Joe Biden pushed for and Congress approved the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to help cities recoup financially.

The next step for these proposals? They’ll be placed on the consent agenda for next week’s meeting, then Covington commissioners will take a vote.

Here is the breakdown of the proposals heard Tuesday.

Expanding Covington Connect

  • $455,000

Covington is looking to expand and monetize Covington Connect, the citywide public access wifi system. The money will go toward adding access points in the city, the repair and replacement a number of the current access points, and allowing the system to feature advertisements and sponsorships.

Covington is looking to hire a part-time employee to work on the project.

Eastside Gateway Pedestrian Improvements

  • $100,000

Covington will make pedestrian improvements for the gateway intersection at Martin Luther King Boulevard, Wheeler, Prospect and Beal streets. Covington’s ARPA template projects a completion date of June 2023.

“The project includes adding some crosswalks and changing the sidewalks to make them more accessible, and more comfortable and safe for pedestrians,” said Joy Pierson, Covington’s assistant city manager.

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Be Concerned, nonprofit grant contract

  • $85,000

Be Concerned is a nonprofit in Covington that offers an English As A Second Language program. Be Concerned has a partnership with Esperanza Latino Center in Covington, and the money will go toward further expansion of their pre-existing program.

The start date for the project is slated for Sept. 1.

“They anticipate assisting 300 households in Covington,” Barach said.

Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, nonprofit grant contact

  • $500,000

These funds would go to the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky for emergency capital improvements to all campus buildings at Devou Park. The improvements include replacing damaged roofs, preventative measures for water damage and installing window coverings to prevent the breaking of glass windows.

“The Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky expects to serve 300 students this year,” Barach said.

Commissioner Ron Washington said he believes this would be a “good use” of the city’s ARPA money after previously touring the campus facilities.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said the program provides an “invaluable service.”

Center for Great Neighborhoods, nonprofit grant contract

  • $45,000

The Center for Great Neighborhoods will use the funds for a Tax Return Look Back program.

The Tax Return Look Back program allows taxpayers with lower earned incomes use either their 2019 or 2021 income to calculate their Earned Income Tax Credit — whichever one leads to a better refund, according to prosperitynow.org. The project start date is Sept. 1, and CGN projects to help 300 residents.

Legal Aid for the Bluegrass, nonprofit grant contract

  • $100,000

Legal Aid for the Bluegrass will use the funds to create a Financial Literacy Program and their pre-existing Legal Representation Program.

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“They believe financial literacy is one of the keys for folks bettering themselves in life,” Barach said.

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