What to do with Latonia’s Barb Cook Park?

The basketball courts are popular at Barb Cook Park, but what else should be added to the park?

COVINGTON, Ky. - The sole of many a shoe has been left thinner by the basketball courts at Barb Cook Park in Latonia over the years, and its swings and slides have left the seats of kids’ shorts and pants a little shinier.

But the City of Covington’s Parks & Recreation Department thinks the park could be so much more.
So it’s asking residents for ideas.
The park, located on Madison Pike on either side of Ashland Avenue and named for the late Latonia neighborhood advocate, features basketball courts, a jungle gym and slides - but little else.
“Barb Cook has a lot of untapped space - including two cut-grass fields and the former tennis courts - and we want to turn that into something residents can enjoy,” said Rosie Santos, Parks & Recreation Director for the City. “Basically we want to know what would make this park more fun for you or your family.”
The Department has been working with the Center for Great Neighborhoods to collect input at neighborhood meetings, local schools, and a pop-up event in the park. Now it’s intensifying its efforts. Residents can weigh in: 
  • By having the survey sent to their phone by texting BARBCOOK to 555888. 
  • And by attending a family friendly event in the park on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 
Santos said the City was seeking ideas on all facets of the park, including its features, amenities, look, and feel. The survey mentions things like a shelter, picnic tables, more playground equipment, safety, and a community garden.
“All the improvements will be based on feedback from the community,” she said.
The park sits across Madison Pike from the Latonia Terrace housing complex, so there are a lot of people who live close enough to walk to the park.
Why Barb Cook?
The focus on Barb Cook Park emerged from an assessment of Covington’s parks and playgrounds conducted by a citizens Park Advisory Group about a year ago.
Covington is home to about 990 acres of public parks and open space at 40 sites ranging in size from tiny playgrounds to the 700-plus-acre Devou Park. The City itself operates and maintains 30 sites totaling almost 200 acres spread throughout its 19 neighborhoods (the rest are owned by public and private organizations, as well as nonprofit entities and schools).
Three years ago, the City hired county planners to do a detailed inventory of its parks and playgrounds. The Advisory Group - made up about a dozen Covington residents with various types of relevant expertise - used that inventory to evaluate the potential for improving those sites using criteria like the age of the parks, strength of existing partnerships within the neighborhood, opportunities to address criminal activity, etc.
Scores were aggregated to rank the parks by priority with the intent of tackling the sites one at a time on an overlapping schedule.
The Parks & Recreation Department recently finished updates to Father Hanses Park at West 11th Street and Hermes Avenue in Lewisburg and is now working on Peaselburg Little People’s Playground on Howell Street.
Barb Cook Park is next in line. The City plans to gather input and develop it into a plan through the rest of the year, then spend next spring designing the construction. The improvements would be funded in next year’s budget.
“Obviously we wish we could improve all the parks and playgrounds at once, but resources are limited,” Santos said. “We want to target Barb Cook next, so we do need families who use the park to give us their ideas.”
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