Nelson Heights Community Center: Henderson wants dual boards to run facility

COVINGTON -- District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson is requesting that the Board of Commissioners consider having dual boards run the Nelson Heights Community Center.

Henderson wrote a letter to his fellow commissioners and Chairwoman Kathy Morgan on Oct. 23 requesting that a board comprised of community members be formed to work with the Newton County Recreation Commission to manage the facility, determine how it will be used and develop out the 11 acres of property.

Henderson provided a list of seven people to serve on the board, including himself, Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey, Recreation Commission member Flemmie Pitts and other members of the community.

"I feel this is a very good representative (sic) of the community and organizations that want to see this become a success and by working together we can see this happen," Henderson said.

County commissioners have agreed to let the Recreation Commission take over the new facility, located on Laseter Street, if its members determine that would be feasible.

Earlier this month, the Recreation Commission sent a letter to the BOC stating that it would manage the facility if several stipulations were met and questions answered.

Among those stipulations was an assurance that there would be no outside interference from the Nelson Heights 501(c)3 board. Henderson helped form that nonprofit organization without approval from the BOC, according to Morgan and other commissioners.

The Recreation Commission's letter also asks if there will be outside pressure from Henderson if they take over the facility.

Following receipt of that letter, Henderson tried to rescind his earlier vote to allow the Recreation Commission to take over the facility, but the BOC would not amend the agenda to allow him to do that.

Morgan said there will be a work session at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, prior to the board's regular meeting, with the Recreation Commission.

She said she is not sure that Henderson's latest suggestion is feasible.

"I don't think we need to duplicate our efforts and create another bureaucracy. We already have a system in place ... The Recreation Commission includes nine members of the community and Mr. Henderson sits on their board. I don't understand why we need another board," she said.

The community center is currently sitting empty and there are still several projects to complete before a certificate of occupancy is granted, she said.