Approaching the first anniversary of the death of Covington’s Gloria San Miquel, her former employer, Roebling Books & Coffee, is honoring her legacy.
San Miguel was riding her bike on the 11th Street bridge between Newport and Covington when she was struck by a car and killed on Aug. 20, 2022. To recognize one of its own, Roebling Books & Coffee received the Covington Quality of Place Grant to create the “Go with Glo Corner” at the Covington shop with bike resources, art installations, gardens, and more.
The Quality of Place Grant program is a city of Covington-created program with a purpose to create a sense of place.
Other Quality of Place Grant projects are the library book benches throughout the region, the Spiderman and Batman mural on the side of Latonia Commerce Center, and the stained glass “Everybody’s Bench” on Scott Street.
“It’s such a sad thing, but there are so many good things coming out of it,” Hunt said.
San Miguel started as a barista but became a manager, and Hunt said she adored the book part of the business, which became her leading edge. The coffee shop is getting two book benches shipped for staff to paint the front and back with things San Miguel adored to commemorate her love for books.
One bench will have images of San Miguel’s guitar with birds and music, and the other will have gardens depicting her love of the work she did at the Redden Gardens. Hunt also asked San Miguel’s partner Zach Vickers for input, and they brainstormed an image of “The Three Little Pigs”—a book she would often read to her daughter, Luna.
“The other one is Wendell Berry, who, maybe two weeks before she got hit, we went down to visit with Wendell Berry, and he signed books, and it was a good moment to think that, you know, an author she sort of idolized she got to meet him,” Hunt said.
The people at Roebling Point Books and Coffee told LINK nky last year that San Miguel was a dear friend.
“It’s a tightly knit community, and honestly, Gloria was one of the people making it tightly knit,” Roebling Books & Coffee Book Specialist Emily Webster said.
Hunt said San Miguel’s death was a catalyst that brought pedestrian and cyclist safety to the forefront of everyone’s minds, part of Go with Glo Corner, like the pedestrian guide maps and curb bump-outs, implement those safety aspects.
There will be a bike resource station with an air pump, bike stand, and tools people can use to work on their bikes. There will also be maps that guide pedestrians and bicyclists to the Riverfront Commons Trail, Licking River Greenway, and the forthcoming/new 4th Street bridge by highlighting safer routes for transportation around Covington and the region.
The Newport City Commission passed an order in January to execute a bicycle transportation plan for the 11th Street bridge, on the heels of San Miguel’s death, as an agreement with Tri-State Trails in conjunction with the city of Covington. The city said they would follow the lead of Tri-State Trails and the Devou Good Foundation, which is overseeing design plans for the bridge.
Hunt said the coffee shop would also offer anybody with a helmet a 10% discount and hopes to get other Covington businesses to do that.
In addition to the maps and resource station, there will also be additional bike parking. According to the grant, a concrete slab will be poured to extend the existing curb bump out to have space for the bike stand and more bike parking. This bump out will fill the vacant/illegal parking space that currently sits unused.
“And then we’re raising the tree beds and putting additional plantings in there,” Hunt said. “Trying to kind of dress up the whole area. There’ll be some room to be able to sit and reflect and think about Gloria.”
Hunt said a high aspiration of these changes would be friendliness between drivers and people on the sidewalk.
“You know, it’s an urban area, and parking is always an issue,” Hunt said. “Driving is always an issue. We feel like when people aren’t driving, they slow down, they interact.”
Hunt said that with these additions, they are trying to help visitors coming across the bridge and Covington neighbors and residents find safe ways to get around the streets. When they received the grant, he said they tried to brainstorm what San Miguel would have wanted and what the neighborhood would find helpful.
“You don’t want just to create a big object that nobody interacts with,” Hunt said. “And then this is what we’re trying to make it, for lack of a better term, interactive where people can find a good use for it and find moments to reflect.”