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Peruse the park
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The proposed community park adjacent to the Newton County Library was recently officially named Chimney Park because of the planned garden featuring the remnants of an old home on the property.

Friends of Newton Parks Inc. Terry Smith said the Newton County Board of Commissioners designated the park with the name in 2006, and the name was revisited and approved this year.

Smith said the chimney of the home is currently undergoing inspections by structural engineers.

 "Hopefully we'll be able to maintain it as is," Smith said, "and have it be the centerpiece of the park itself."

 Members of Friends of Newton Parks have submitted an application to the state to garner 501(c)3 status in order to establish the group as a non-profit for tax filing purposes.

 Smith said he anticipates the application to be approved by summer.

 "We'll be dependent on contributions coming in to fund the construction drawings as well as the actual construction of the project," Smith said.

 He said depending on the amounts of donations and when they are received the park could be built in phases instead of constructing all the features at the same time.

 As a boy, Smith played on the terraced cotton fields on the property where the park will be located.

 After a bilateral lung transplant forced Smith into retirement, he searched for a cause to support.

 Preserving the land, where he and his friends let their imaginations roam as children thinking the old plantation was haunted, for all the residents of the county seemed a worthy endeavor.

 He said the conceptualized park, which started out as just a place for children, will be unlike any other in the Southeast.

 What started out as dinner-table discussions about a children's playground became development of a park for use by children, people with special needs, adults and seniors.

 "Our design is to construct something for the wellbeing of the soul," Smith said, "be it a child or a senior adult, or someone with a handicap or someone with no physical problems - anybody in this county will be able to use this park and find a sense of wellbeing there."

 The park will feature a mini-amphitheater, chime garden, splash fountain, tree house and secret garden as well as connect to the Newton County trail system.

 The estimated cost of the entire project is $3.5 million.

 To introduce residents to the park, Friends of Newton Parks have organized a bird walk.

 Amateurs and experts of all ages are welcome to join David Waller, retired from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, identifying birds on the property beginning at 7:15 a.m. April 12.

 Attendees are invited to meet for a light breakfast in the meeting room of the Newton County Library before going on the walk.

 After the bird walk, residents can stay for a litter pick-up on the property starting around 9 a.m.

 Residents are invited to attend both the bird walk and the litter pick-up or one or the other.