Main Street merchants came together Friday afternoon to talk with members of the Covington City Council and discuss ways to make sure filming in the downtown district benefits the residents, merchants and city as a whole.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston, City Councilman Josh McKelvey and City Councilwoman Susie Keck were present to hear concerns from the merchants and provide feedback to questions. Johnston said the entire council was informed of the meeting but might have had other obligations and did not attend.
McKelvey said he has heard a lot of feedback from merchants around the square and is aware that filming is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The current filming procedures were put in place about five years ago and the city has agreed to review the procedures and make changes that compare to the changes seen around the square.
“You’re our priority so we have to figure out how to make this work for everybody,” Keck said.
Many merchants raised concerns about the communication between the film employees and the merchants. Questions about using parking, sidewalk and window spaces were also brought up.
Jack Phillips said because his restaurant - Irish Bred Pub – is part of a franchise, he has seen what other cities have in place for filming guidelines. He suggested the city take a look at those as a place to start.
Johnston said 99.9 percent of the merchants around Covington’s downtown square want to see filming continue as long as there is a plan in place to make sure it works for everyone.
Merchants also raised concerns about the most recent filming on the square. “Goosebumps” decorated downtown for Halloween last month for its filming and due to weather and other scheduling conflicts, it did not go as smoothly as planned.
“‘Goosebumps’ was the first filming we’ve had in quite some time,” City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said. “When we get out of the mode and go back to it, that’s when the issues arise.”
Johnston said with the addition of Three Ring Studios coming to the community, some of the filming stressors and growing pains should be elevated.
Knight agreed to work with the merchants on some immediate fixes, while the councilmembers agreed to review the policy and see what changes can be made.