Public input sought on downtown

COVINGTON - What's in the future for downtown Covington? If you want to help answer that question, come to a charrette on the Downtown Covington Master Plan from Monday to Wednesday.

The charrette - an intense, multi-day work session that includes public workshops - will be conducted by students at the University of Georgia's College of Environment and Design, who are currently living and studying at the UGA Metropolitan Design Studio in Clark's Grove.

Randy Vinson, a faculty member at the Design Studio and a local town planner, said the plan will focus on the downtown area in more detail than previous plans, such as the one created by Andres Duany in 2000 and the more recent LCI Study.

In particular, the plan will address the proposed Dried Indian Creek Greenway running from U.S. Highway 278 to Ivy Street.

Previous studies have suggested a greenway that would "be the common thread through much of the downtown," but have failed to examine how it should be established, Vinson said.

"We want to take it to a little bit more detailed step as far as how it actually could function as a greenway," he said, including addressing whether the greenway should be hard surface or more of a natural hiking-type trail.

The plan will also examine how to connect government facilities, including the Newton County Judicial Center, the historic jail and City Hall, along Stallings and Usher streets.

Other areas of focus are Emory Street between U.S. Highway 278 and Washington Street, the possibility of a neighborhood park on Conyers and Reynolds streets, and a possible mixed-use development between Pace and Elm streets.

A public input session will take place at noon Monday at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning at 2104 Washington St.

The public is also invited to attend open design sessions from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, also at The Center.

A public presentation of the resulting plan will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the same location.

The plan is being jointly funded by the city and county, along with several private property owners, Vinson said.

Ten students will work on the plan, assisted by Tim Keane, the former planning director for Charleston, S.C., and Jacob Lindsey, a UGA Design Studio alumnus, along with architect and UGA professor Hank Methvin, and Vinson.

For more information, call The Center at 770-788-0484.

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