Chimney stabilized at Chimney Park

:HOPI Contracting in Covington installed a new concrete foundation and bolted down the chimney. - Special Photo

:HOPI Contracting in Covington installed a new concrete foundation and bolted down the chimney. - Special Photo

COVINGTON -- A key part of the Chimney Park project has finally been completed. The chimney that is the focal point and namesake for the park has been stabilized.

The park -- a planned passive play area for people of all ages and abilities behind Newton County Library -- has been in the planning stages for six years and stabilizing the chimney, a remnant from an old mansion that was once located on the property, has long been a goal.

Fundraising has been a challenge with the economy, so Friends of Newton Parks Inc. has focused mostly on raising awareness of the project by hosting special events throughout the year, such as the annual Twilights at Chimney Park and Fairy Festival in the spring. The safety of the structure was a concern and so the group has continued to solicit donations -- even collecting pennies in jars placed throughout the county -- to get that component of the project completed. An engineering plan cost $7,000 and stabilization was completed for $19,300.

"The next priority is the mission of the park: Getting accessible walkways into the woods from the multi-use trail and from the parking area to the woods," said Cheryl Delk, special projects coordinator for Newton County. The county donated the land for the project. Delk said fundraising efforts are being revitalized, now that funding has been secured for the Miracle League project and construction is under way. The Miracle Field was originally part of the Chimney Park design, but during public input sessions parents with special needs children indicated they didn't want them isolated, so the field was moved to City Pond Park.

Delk said there are grants that may be available for the next phases of Chimney Park. Corporate donations are being sought and Friends of Newton Parks is updating its package detailing elements and cost estimates.

"There's a lot of momentum now, and people yet to experience Chimney Park. With the new multi-use trail, we're thinking that will bring walkers and increase use of the park, so we're excited about that and think that will help fundraising," Delk said, referring to the Library to Eastside Trail that will soon be completed. A ribbon cutting for the trail is slated for 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 with the Twilights at Chimney event to follow at 5 p.m.