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Local church opens park

Special Photo. This new park on Brown Street in Covington is a contribution to the community from First Presbyterian Church of Covington. The mural was painted by students at Oxford College under the direction of artist Maria Veliotis.

Special Photo. This new park on Brown Street in Covington is a contribution to the community from First Presbyterian Church of Covington. The mural was painted by students at Oxford College under the direction of artist Maria Veliotis.

COVINGTON -- After the departure of the Community Food Pantry from Brown Street, members of First Presbyterian Church of Covington decided something needed to be done to make the site more attractive.

"The church had no immediate plans to build on the property. It had been an eyesore before and after demolition of the old building, so we decided that a park would be a nice enhancement to the neighborhood," Pastor Billy Wade said.

The site was not properly graded, there were drains sticking up and a decrepit Dumpster was the only decoration, said Gene Wallace, who was co-chairman of the church's facilities, equipment and grounds team when the project was first discussed.

"It's part of our outreach to be involved in the community. We thought it was sort of unusual to be getting into the park business, but that was what we decided," he said.

Church members and community volunteers sprung into action to complete the project. Stones were gathered from the Newton County Landfill with assistance from the staff there for decoration. Donations were made by community members and Bonanza Productions, which produces locally filmed television series "The Vampire Diaries." The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce provided support in getting donations, as the park is next to its building. Students with Oxford College painted a mural on an adjacent wall as backdrop, under the direction of local artist Maria Veliotis.

"It's a community park in every sense of the word. If it hadn't been for the generous contributions as well as volunteer labor it never would have happened. We feel like it's an important contribution to the neighborhood," Wallace said.

Features include picnic tables and benches and open space. The park will be a place for downtown visitors to lunch and rest, Wallace said. It's also very convenient to the Covington Highrise living facility for elderly residents.

The public is invited to attend a dedication of the park at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at the corner of Brown and Clark streets. The park will be opened to the community following the dedication.