BOC OKs subdivision park buy

COVINGTON -- County commissioners approved the purchase of 12.1 acres of land in Fairview Estates subdivision to be used as a public park following an executive session Tuesday night.

The property will be purchased from SunTrust Bank for approximately $300,000 using federal stimulus money awarded through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The park will be maintained by the Newton County Recreation Commission.

"We have a conceptual design for the phasing in of the park," said Commissioner Nancy Schulz, who represents the Fairview Estates community. "IECDG (a nonprofit organization administering the NSP for the county) has been working closely with residents to come up with a plan that will be an enhancement to the community ... We're working with the recreation department to come up with a plan that gives quality greenspace and allows for the long-term maintenance and operations that will be fiscally responsible and manageable for the county.

"It really will be an asset to the community," she continued. "The whole purpose of neighborhood stabilization money is to stabilize the falling home values and neighborhoods so they don't become blighted. On this particular greenspace, I feel like everybody worked together to make sure we listened to the concerns of residents. We really tried to address those in terms of providing an area that will be an enhancement to that community and the entire Fairview corridor."

An additional four acres of property will be deeded to a neighborhood homeowners association to own and maintain to meet a zoning condition for an amenities package that was never kept by the developer. The county will not be involved with development or maintenance of that property and amenities will be paid for by the homeowner's association through collected dues.

The county was awarded $1.7 million in NSP money from the federal government to purchase, rehabilitate and resell foreclosed properties and build the public park. About $1.2 million has been encumbered thus far, according to Senior Planner Scott Sirotkin.

In addition to the park property, nine homes have been purchased. Three are located in Fairview Estates, at 130 Chandler Fields Drive, 370 Crestfield Circle and 75 Chandler Trace. Six are outside the neighborhood, at 275 Mountain Way, 315 Barshay Drive, 545 Jack Neely Road, 110 Landing Lane, 35 Zelina Court and 185 Heaton Place.

"There are three more lots that could be part of the park that are owned by Brand Bank and we are currently pursuing those. Otherwise, we won't be acquiring additional properties until we sell some of the ones we are currently rehabilitating," Sirotkin said.