As part of its Neighborhood Stabilization Plan, Newton County has been planning to build a public park in Fairview Estates, but several residents of that neighborhood let the county know they don’t want a public park in their backyard.
At Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting seven neighborhood residents spoke in opposition to a public park during the public comments section. The residents said that a public park would simply bring more outside traffic into an already crowded, crime-infested neighborhood
“Now, if there is a public park there will be more crime and extra traffic. It’s already crowded and there’s already too much chaos,” said Wendy Rodriguez, a teenager speaking on behalf of her father. “(Senior Planner Scott Sirotkin) said it would be beneficial to the community, but it wouldn’t be beneficial to us. We would have no control over it.”
The park is scheduled to be built on an undeveloped 18.14-acre lot of land south of Fairview Road and Crestfield Circle, between Hinton and Lakeside circles. However, residents said that 10 percent of that land was promised to them by the homeowners association for a club house, a recreation area and a swimming pool. The association has been making promises like that for years but it has not kept them and has even failed to keep up basic maintenance, residents said.
A public hearing was held for the NSP project, but residents said they didn’t even know the county was planning to build a park until one of them saw a recent NSP article in The Covington News.
The NSP project is taking place in District 3, and area Commissioner Nancy Schulz said she would like to meet with a couple of representatives from the neighborhood to discuss the planned park in more detail and get everyone on the same page before a decision is made about how to progress. The parties are trying to set up a meeting on Friday, which Sirotkin would also attend.
After the meeting, Chairman Kathy Morgan said part of the problem arose from the fact that the strict NSP guidelines had prevented county officials from meeting individually with neighborhoods.
The main part of the $1.74 million NSP program is going to be the purchasing and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties in Fairview Estates in order to stabilize that community and bring up property prices. However, because of the large number of homes already in the market, Sirotkin said the county was looking for a unique way to help stabilize a community and it decided to build a park because there was a vacant lot of land and because several different communities are very near that location.
“I think we looked at a park because it was one of the specific examples HUD (Housing and Urban Development) gave of how NSP funds could be used,” Sirotkin added in an e-mail.
If the county decides not to build a park, the money could be used to purchase more homes or for other purposes, but the county would have to get approval from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in order to change its plan, Sirotkin said. When asked by The News, he said he did not know if the park could eventually be sold to the neighborhood association in order to have it be a neighborhood-resident-only facility.
For background on the NSP read this article: http://www.covnews.com/news/article/8110/
For more information continue to check covnews.com and read Friday's edition of The Covington News.