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Open house set for Kenton downtown plan

Kenton residents are invited to learn about the city’s downtown revitalization plan during an open house Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Veterans Hall in the Hardin County Courthouse.

The program will be led by representatives from OHP, an architectural, engineering and planning firm which has been retained by the city for the downtown project.

Kenton, like many communities across the county, is built upon infrastructure that is nearing the end of its lifecycle. Aging storm, water and sewer lines – some of which are as old as the city itself – are in need of significant repair and replacement, according to a press release from OHP.

The city is in the process of preparing a plan to address needed capital improvements, while making sure it puts the streets and sidewalk back in a way that benefits the community, the release said.

“This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed,” Aaron Domini, principal planner with OHM, told the Times. Some of Kenton’s downtown infrastructure was built before 1900 and some buildings were built on top of it.

He called it “one of the oldest and most challenging infrastructure” the company has dealt with.

Domini said Wednesday night’s meeting will be divided into two parts. The first will be a presentation focused on the educational component of the project.

He said there is a lot to understand about the project, which he will attempt to clear up, as well as outline how it will benefit Kenton.

“First and foremost we are focused on fixing everything from the underground up,” Domini said.

The second half will entail a series of activities designed to get feedback on the downtown, including streetscape design and transportation issues.

He called the Kenton project a “carbon copy” of a downtown improvement project that is just wrapping up in Newark, east of Columbus. Newark has a courthouse on the square, similar to Kenton. Sewer separation was mandated by the Ohio EPA around the Newark square and a block off the square.

The cost of that project will end up at $25 million to $30 million. However, it has resulted in $80 million in private investment into the community, Domini said.

For the Kenton project, he said OHP will be looking to acquire funding from several governmental sources to go along with local funding to finance the project.