The green space on Mill Street, behind the Covington Family Y, has long been an area Newton County residents have gone to for a little respite and entertainment for years.
Each year the American Legion Fair sets up shop at Legion Park with its rides, games and carnival food, in years past the American Legion baseball team called the field home and the park was even used as a high school football field for a time.
The Covington City Council has went about making that green space a source of entertainment and relaxation for use every day, and an area to hold special events year round.
The newly improved Legion Field was presented in a public hearing Tuesday, along with the fee structures and a breakdown of different phases for the park’s evolution.
Mayor Ronnie Johnston, City Manager Leigh Anne Knight and Covington Planning and Zoning Director Randy Vison spoke to citizens, while council persons Michael Whatley, Janet Goodman, Chris Smith, Hawnethia Williams and Keith Dalton were available for questions.
One of the recurring themes of citizens‘ inquiries was whether or not the green space would be available to all when the pavilion and fair buildings were being rented out. As a family threw a Frisbee in the park’s greenspace, Knight told the crowd that the field could not be rented exclusively. However, the pavilion could be at a cost of $95 a day for Covington residents, and $135 for non-residents. During the rental period the park would still be opened for the public. Other fees include the rental of the fair building for $500 per day for residnets and $750 for non residents.
“My biggest concern is we don’t have enough green space in the city,” said Covington resident John Calloway. “I don’t want to see the field become an event facility where citizens don’t know if they can come and use it.”
The park amenities and fee structure was modeled off neighboring communities, including Conyers, Loganville, Madison, Grayson, Monroe, Marietta, Stockbridge and Brookhaven, according to Knight.
“The places I’ve mentioned all have fee structures similar to ours,” Knight said. “Some are a lot more expensive.
Non-profit originations would receive a discount, and no organization can rent the park for an extended period of time.
The first event scheduled for the renovated Legion Field is Oct. 5. According to Knight several people have inquired about using the park, and renting space in the pavilion and fair building.
There are several provisions for using the facilities, including promoters having liability insurance, a function featuring alcohol must be done so through a caterer and the city’s noise ordinance be abided by.
The noise of the park for concerts, family reunions, weddings and other functions that have music was some concern from neighbors.
“If neighbors complain about the sound being too loud, we’ll come and measure it, and if it’s in violation of the limit, we’ll shut them down,” said former Covington Mayor and a nearby resident to Legion Field, Kim Carter.
Covington’s noise ordinance for a residential area and a public space is 60 decibels between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and 55 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Carter also suggested to city officials that a committee or task force consisting of neighbors be formed for the park.