After 18 months of intense debate and compromise, a public park is being built in Fairview Estates, with a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. today in the neighborhood off Fairview Road.
Several officials will speak, including Newton County Chairman Kathy Morgan, District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz and Scott Sirotkin, director of the county's developmental services department.
Wendy Rodriguez, a high school student who lives in the neighborhood, will also speak, as will Glen Misner, director of field services for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Clyde Anderson, a CNN contributor who is serving as a publicist for the non-profit group IECDG, will be the emcee. Light refreshments will be provided.
The park will cost about $200,000 and will include a parking lot, pavilion, toddler playground and a 1/4-mile walking trail with benches. Sirotkin said the contractor has already begun working at the site and has 120 days to finish construction according to the contract, weather permitting.
The construction will be paid for with federal stimulus money, because the park was part of the county's Neighborhood Stabilization Plan. The county chose Fairview Estates because of its high number of foreclosures. The county hopes a park will enhance nearby property values.
While many residents remain unconvinced about having a public park in a private neighborhood, others like resident Noel Wallace, are excited.
"I look at the park as a big positive that will raise property values," Wallace said. "We'll have a pavilion where we can actually have (neighborhood) meetings, a play area for kids and a walking trail. The place was just getting worse and worse, just sitting vacant. Now it will be used."