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Posted: February 6, 2011 12:00 a.m.

County to retain stake in Main Street

Downtown group makes plans for 2011

Newton County will not give up its half share in Main Street Covington, the non-profit organization that oversees development of Covington’s downtown.

Chairman Kathy Morgan said Thursday the county remains dedicated to the downtown’s development.

"We have the largest footprint and are the largest employer on the square. We are a boon and a hindrance to the downtown community. When court is in session, there is no place to park, but our employees also shop," Morgan said.

The decision comes following a request by Covington Mayor Kim Carter in November to allow the city to take Main Street completely under city control. After forming a joint committee to study the issue, Morgan said the county will remain involved.

Carter said in November and reiterated Friday that the city is able to move more quickly on downtown issues, because it has a much smaller purview than the county. Another issue was that Main Street Executive Director Josephine Kelly had to report to two bosses.

The committee has produced a draft of an intergovernmental agreement, which clarifies that the Main Street director will be a city employee, paid by the city and subject to its personnel policies. The county will reimburse the city for half of the director’s pay and benefits, according to the draft.

The agreement also states that if Main Street’s jurisdiction increases to include more of Covington at its request, the city will bear additional expenses. The city has expressed interest in expanding the Main Street area to include the Pace Street corridor leading from U.S. Highway 278 to the square.

City Attorney Ed Crudup wrote the agreement which is being reviewed by the county attorney’s office. Neither the city council nor county board of commissioners has voted on the agreement. The county is expected to discuss Main Street more at its annual retreat in February.

"The good news is that the county stands committed to Main Street and we’re very thankful for that," Carter said Friday. "Main Street is of huge importance to downtown and community development and preservation. I’ve said before without all of that, we can’t have economic development."

Carter said the city and county need to address parking concerns and also the possibility of installing public restrooms that can be used during large events. She also hopes to revisit a downtown master plan, which the city had scraped previously when co-funding for the project did not make the county’s budget.

The city has also held off rejuvenating its Covington Downtown Development Authority, until the Main Street situation is clarified, Carter said.

Main Street’s 2011 Plans

 

Dan Walden, newly appointed chair of the Main Street Board of Directors, said the agreement does not create any significant changes to Main Street’s operation, outside of the creation of an additional board member position.

According to a Main Street 2011 work plan, the board has revised its bylaws and is now working to develop its committees, including the design and cultural events committees and the downtown business council.

The design committee plans to improve at least five businesses facades through grants and establish a banner program for downtown. Main Street will also work on a year-long dining and food group marketing campaign, as well as campaigns for holidays like Valentines’ Day and Easter.

One of the next events is going to be a Main Street 101 program from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Feb. 17 at Turner Lake Complex. This program will explain the purpose of Main Street and its approach to downtown development. Visit downtowncovington.org to read more about the organization’s mission or contact Kelly by calling (770) 385-2077 or sending an e-mail to mscovington@cityofcovington.org.

Besides Walden, other members are Teri Haler of Current Events, Cheryl Delk from Newton County, Clara Deemer, the chamber’s tourism director, Doyle Baker from United Bank, local attorney Michael Geoffroy, Vanessa Virgin from New Shoez, Nita Thompson, Pat Cavanaugh from The Covington News, Randy Vinson from Covington and Susan Chamberlain Kirk from Scoops.

Main Street’s budget for January through June of this year is $52,688.

 

 

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