Miracle Field draws closer to reality

COVINGTON - The site for the planned Miracle Field that will serve special-needs children was officially secured Monday night, when the Covington City Council granted a variance to the Newton County Recreation Commission.

The site, located in City Pond Park west of the tennis complex, is located within the city's watershed protection overlay zoning district, which requires a 100-foot undisturbed buffer around City Pond and an additional 50-foot setback for structures.

The Recreation Commission asked for an exclusion from those requirements, saying it must encroach on the buffer zone in order to have ample room for the field. The state's 25-foot buffer requirements will still be honored, according to a letter to the city from Whit Alexander of Lose and Associates, the architectural firm selected to design the project.

The council unanimously passed the variance, putting to rest worries another location might have to be selected.

"If we didn't get the variance I don't know what we would have done as far as where to put the field," Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey said.

The field will be located adjacent to the Covington Police Department shooting range, which will be moved to another location at the city/county Land Application site.

The Recreation Commission also plans to build two more fields for T-league and Pee Wee play.

The project will be built in phases with the Miracle Field to be completed first.

All fields will have artificial turf to lessen runoff into waterways, Hailey said.

The next phase of the project will entail getting plans drawn up by the architect, holding a public information meeting in early 2009 and establishing a committee to start fundraising.

The project will be heavily reliant on donations, but may also receive public funding, Hailey said.

"We'd like to do this as soon as we could, but we also understand the economic situation right now, so it's something we will work on as we can," he said.

The total cost has not been established as of yet, he added.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.