Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Newport council contemplates re-naming River Street
Members of the Newport City Council meeting Tuesday delayed action on a name change for River Street until more feedback from residents of the street can be gathered. Paul and Kim Gregg who own 10 of the parcels on the street have begun a campaign to re-name the thoroughfare, Watersedge Street. The couple argue that the area has a negative reputation and a name change would assist in rehabilitating the reputation. But Alderman Mike Hansel suggested a name change would not rid the area of the negative stigma. He suggested that the residents work with the Community Development Department to address the issues that have led to the community having a negative reputation. Alderwoman Louanna Ottinger called for more information on the sentiment of the residents in the area who would be faced with a street name change. She proposed that a petition with signatures of all the residents would provide the council with a better picture of the support for a name change. Parks and Recreation Director Tim Dockery reported that efforts continue to construct a greenway between River Street and the Pigeon River, in an effort to make the area more attractive. Mayor Roland "Trey" Dykes said he believes more information should be provided to the council. "The council would have increased comfort level if everyone who will be affected, would approve of the name change, which is the way it has been handled in the past. It is a big step because there are alot of things that have to happen when a street name changes." City Manager James Finchum gave the council an update on the status of the city audit. He reported the city and Newport Grammar School audits have been completed and there were no findings. "But the state comptroller is conducting an internal audit of Newport Utilities, and we were informed by our auditors, that that will delay our audit being completed. They have to combine all three audits into one complete audit." He said there is no timeline for the completion of the NU audit, but it is the fourth consecutive year that the city has had a clean audit. Community Development Manager Gary carver reported there have been water leaks at the rear of the Tanner Building, and so additional work will be required to address that issue. Still, he said he expects the renovation of the building to be completed by late Winter or early Spring. The council passed an ordinance on final reading, to impose a penalty on those who allow mown grass to remain in the street. There are concerns that the grass poses a threat to motorists and also contributes to clogging up wastewater pipes. The council delayed an ordinance addressing speed zones around playgrounds and school zones, until the document can be re-written to make the speed limit consistent in all areas of the city.

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