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Our Thoughts: Lets embrace our new problem of parking
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The Covington Square has been a hub of activity lately.

Visitors to downtown Covington have been walking through the Square Park, eating at any of the area’s several restaurants and strolling in and out of its stores, creating a buzz.

If you want peace and quiet, the Square isn’t the place to find it on busy afternoons and bustling weekends.

If you want peace and quiet, we recommend heading over the public parking deck just off the Square.

Any time but Sunday mornings, the four levels are mostly empty. It’s a contrast to what the Square has become, where we see drivers going around and around searching for that perfect space just a stone’s throw from their establishment of choice.

Um, wait a minute.

The parking deck’s purpose is for parking. The Square’s purpose is for dining, shopping, socializing and congregating.

Parking has become a hot issue with those frequenting the Square — patrons, business owners or employees alike. Your Pie, Sweet River and Truvi’s Hair Barn have all opened recently bringing more people to downtown. The Irish Bred Pub restaurant is set to follow, and Newton County’s economic development team is constantly working to attract new — and much needed — business. This is in addition to more established places such as Scoops, Town House Cafe and Kuter’s Cage.

The parking demands of the Square will not dissipate.

And we don’t want them to.

Restaurants and shops lure cars. Cars carry people. People carry wallets. Wallets carry money. Money carries the tax digest.

One of the biggest oppositions we hear to this line of thinking is that all this congestion on the Square isn’t how it used to be. We hear how Covington was fine as a small, quaint town.

Then we think back one, two or three decades ago to when the Square consisted of a movie theater, department stores, a grocery store, and other large centers of commerce. Beyond that, we look through pictures hung on the walls of the Historic Newton County Courthouse and see the Square filled with people gathered for the season’s cotton sale.

The Square was an area for commerce and community. It has been remembered best as a busy place in the pictures we hang on the walls of our most important buildings and the stories we pass down.

It is busy once again. Just last week, every parking spot was taken, air conditioning units of local businesses had to work a little extra as doors constantly opened and closed, families walked along Clark, Monticello, Washington and Church streets, and young people rode skateboards and hover boards around the park.

All those sites can be seen by taking a minute or two. And that’s all the time that is needed on a walk from the parking deck on the corner of Usher and Elm streets that was a joint project between Newton County and the First Baptist Church of Covington.

Leaving the peace and quiet of the parking deck, visitors will have to go down Elm Street, and turn on Floyd, where flowering trees and antebellum houses come into view. Then they have to pass the tasty concoctions of Sweet Treats Bakery, the charm and aromas of RLs and the caffeinated allure of Square Perk. That’s not exactly a bad walk to get to what is the heart of our fine town.

We urge residents and visitors not to get discouraged by the crowded parking spaces on the Square, but to take that short walk and enjoy. It’s also a great way for business owners and their employees to remind themselves what the Square is about on their walk to work from the parking deck every day. (Yes, we are saying that employees should not park in front of their place of employment.)Let’s embrace our new “problem” of parking and use what we already have at our disposal in the parking deck and other on-street parking areas within a few minutes’ walk of Covington’s shops and restaurants on the downtown Square. We would be remiss to not appreciate what we have, even if it is a minor inconvenience periodically — just ask many of our neighboring communities and others across Georgia.