The Covington City Council has approved a buffer variance request at the appeal of the Newton County Recreation Commission to make way for a special needs baseball field at City Pond Park.
Speaking before the council last Monday, Tommy Hailey, director of the Recreation Commission, said the variance request was needed because there is not enough space in the plans for the baseball field, known as a Miracle Field, to allow for the 150 feet of undisturbed buffer space from the City Pond reservoir as required by city ordinance.
The council voted unanimously to allow an encroachment by Miracle Field into the zoning district buffers. The baseball field will meet the 25-foot setback requirement of the state.
The Miracle Field baseball complex is intended to be built just west of the existing tennis complex at City Pond Park. The project will also include an expanded parking lot and plenty of space for picnicking and tailgating.
Hailey told the council that there are approximately 2,000 children with special needs in Newton County and that there were no programs, other than the Special Olympics organized by the Newton County School System, designed specifically to meet their needs.
While the economy remains in a recession, Hailey said plans to build Miracle Field, which will only be 115 square feet and made from an impervious springy material, are on hold for the time being as fundraising sources are low.
In other city council news:
The council approved its five-year Capital Improvement Plan for the Covington Municipal Airport. In order to receive any possible future federal funds to improve the airport, the city is required to regularly update its CIP by the Federal Aviation Administration.
From 2010 to 2014 there are 32 plans in the CIP worth $27.9 million.
The federal share in the five-year plan is $24.4 million, while the state share is $1.2 million and the local share is $2.4 million.
There are 13 projects listed for the airport in 2010 worth a total of $6.3 million.
Just because a project is listed in the CIP does not necessarily mean that any funding has been allocated for it.