In response to Mr. Phillip Johnson’s opinion piece in last Friday’s The Covington News I would like to correct some misinformation in his comments about what I had written regarding our generation’s legacy for Covington. I am not sure where he gets the idea that I am promoting a one-size-fits-all plan for Covington and Newton County. He is correct, I am a New Urbanist, however he doesn’t understand that the New Urbanism is a planning movement that believes there is a place for everything, from untouched, natural preserves, rural agricultural zones, sub-urban areas with large lots and big homes as well as a variety of more dense, compact, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use areas, like Clark’s Grove.
He is wrong about New Urbanism being nostalgic and naïve. New Urbanists believe that we should build places people like to be, regardless of what the density is. New Urbanists believe that if we build places where people want to be, they will ultimately take care of those places and preserve them for future generations.
I have yet to hear anyone say they like the way HWY 278 looks and wish we could preserve it or build more areas like that in Covington. In fact, over the past 16 years at numerous public design workshops held at various locations throughout Newton County we heard quite loudly and repeatedly that people don’t want areas like Hwy 138 in Conyers or Memorial Drive in Dekalb County. People said very clearly, “We like our rural character and our small town atmosphere.”
In a conversation I had with Phil several months ago he stated “I see the Covington Bypass as the next 278.” If we let that happen, what will we tell our grandchildren in 30 years when they have to deal with two blighted, auto oriented corridors of broken asphalt and vacant commercial buildings with no redeeming qualities?
Phil also left out an important part of my comment about car use in the future. I asked him if he thought, in 100 years, we would be relying on the exclusive use of cars? His response was, “If we build the Keystone XL pipeline, we will have oil for the next 100 years.” OK, then what? Are we only going to worry about our immediate convenience, or are we going to leave a city to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren that they can continue to love and care for? So, I will ask again, what legacy will our generation leave?