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Covington council candidate starts petition to prevent future sale of Conyers Street Gym, Baker Field property
Urges city leaders to maintain ownership of property to show 'vested interest in restoring gym'
Conyers St. gym1
Before a town hall event Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, at Baker Field in Covington, residents were allowed to walk inside Conyers Street Gym to see the building’s current condition. It hasn’t been occupied for several years. (Taylor Beck | The Covington News) - photo by Taylor Beck

COVINGTON, Ga. — In response to recent dealings concerning Conyers Street Gym and Baker Field, one candidate for Covington City Council has started a petition aimed to “thwart” future sale of the historic property, and to “say no to more apartments.”

Carla Ferry, who is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Susie Keck for the Post 1 seat representing the East Ward on the Covington City Council, issued a letter Wednesday afternoon notifying the mayor and city council that she had started the petition.

“We would like to present to you the petition collected since the town hall meeting took place [Sept. 28] of approximately 250 people that checked one or all boxes from the petition on," Ferry wrote. “Please accept this information, as petition names continue to increase for the gym and field restoration of its intended use.  It is certain that with the community interest and with this being advertised we would get well over 1000 signatures by the end of November if necessary to be even more convincing of leaving this gym and field intact and improved for future generations.”

As more signatures are gathered, Ferry requested the city consider the following:

• “Make a commitment not to sell this property now or ever so the community knows they have a vested interest in restoring the gym.”

• “Prevent future deterioration from water damage by placing tarp or by other method”

• “Launch community effort to clear and allow the community to use their talents and resources on a volunteer basis”

• “Future plan developed by the community and for the community.”

• “Do not accept any federal funding or grants for this restoration. This will build back some of the trust lost from our community to our leaders, thereby creating an atmosphere of true Covington spirit.”

Residents participating in the petition may choose any of the following options:

• “I oppose reallocating Baker Field for a purpose other than its intended use.”

• “I oppose the city selling Baker Field & the Historic Gym.”

• “I want restoration of the facility and field by involving the community and city funding.”

 Ferry’s letter also stated signing the petition would also be saying “no” to more apartments — “its original intent.”

“By now you have probably heard about the city’s proposal to build Baker Field into an apartment complex in our Historic District with all the empty promises of affordable housing and 4 high end retail shops,” Ferry’s petition stated. “The truth is that it will do nothing to build our city up. Instead, this is a shell game to pad the pockets of a few and further take away the last remaining children’s activities for this community.

“The Baker Family is held in high regard for the dedication of this historic landmark, and our community has enjoyed coming together for many years,” the letter concluded. “Let’s keep it that way.”

There are no current development plans on the table for the historic property. City Manager Scott Andrews issued a statement Friday about the future of Conyers Street Gym and Baker Field. He said the city decided to pass on the recent proposal from Alpharetta-based developer John Adams of The Revivalist Guild, on behalf of Covington Historic Places, LLC, whose $14 million plans called for the construction of 40 apartments and retail space while preserving the history and integrity of the beloved facility. 

“We will continue to explore options to make the properties aesthetically pleasing, functional and something the community supports,” part of Andrew’s statement reads. “As we progress, we will continue to seek feedback from the community and ensure everyone is aware of potential developments.”

Ferry noted within the petition letter that she was appreciative of Andrew’s comments and thanked the city for continuing to seek residents’ input.