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Newport SkyWheel project to become reality in near future; board approves development plan by 4-1 vote

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

The Newport SkyWheel project will become a reality in the very near future.

At Monday night’s Newport city commission meeting, city manager Thomas Fromme was authorized to execute a development agreement for the project near Newport on the Levee.

The Newport SkyWheel will stand more than 230-feet tall with 30 climate-controlled gondolas. It will be mounted on a pier extending out toward the Ohio River.

Fromme said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will review the leases and development plans, and the required paperwork could be finalized in July.

Conceptualization of Newport Skywheel

“That’s what I’m looking for,” he said. “We will be pushing it in front of our board once we get it. There are some administrative items that need to be looked at. Then I expect construction to begin late this summer, being optimistic.”

After construction begins, the expected timeline for completion is six to nine months.

“This was a crucial step tonight,” Fromme said of getting the development plan approved by the board.

Mayor Jerry Peluso said the Newport SkyWheel would enhance much about the city.

“It’s definitely going to be a major attraction,” he said. “People who visit Newport will be talking about it and getting the word out.

“The residual benefits are enormous for our city. The SkyWheel is going to be a great addition for this entire region.”

Fromme said one of the items the Corps of Engineers will review is related to how the Newport SkyWheel might impact boating on the Ohio River.

“They will be looking at how it might affect navigation on the river because of the lights,” he said.

The board approved the development plan by a vote of 4-1.

Commissioner Ken Rechtin was the lone dissenting vote, saying he supports the project but wanted more specific information.

The board of commissioners will convene again in a regular meeting on July 16 at 7 p.m.

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