COVINGTON -- One local small business owner has a vision to make downtown Covington a Christmas destination.
Susan Kirk, owner of Scoops downtown and Just Dogs on U.S. Hwy. 278, requested Monday that the Covington City Council budget $47,000 each year for at least the next three years to illuminate the downtown during the holiday season.
Kirk proposed a three phase project: Phase one would involve lighting the rooftops and architectural details, such as windows and brick awnings, of buildings along the Square. The second phase would involve wrapping all trees in new tree wells downtown from bottom to top, including those down side streets. The third phase would be to light the tree in the Square Park traditionally used as the community Christmas tree with 5,000 lights that would be synchronized to music. Fifteen-minute light shows would take place twice per night during the holiday season, Kirk said. The city already has speakers for music to be piped in for the show, she added.
Although it would be put out to bid to get an actual cost, $47,000 is the estimated cost to hire a professional service to install, service, take down and store the lights, Kirk said. She said the electric bill impact would be minimal, costing $35 to light one block for the whole season, and about $111 to light each of the four blocks with more architectural details, Kirk said.
Kirk said the lights and decorations already purchased by Main Street would still be used, with the snowflakes moved to the trees in the Square Park, if permission is granted by the county, which owns that property, and merchants would be asked to participate in decorating with greenery and other "daytime" decorations, like garland. Janet Goodman asked if the county could help with the electric bill, since some of the decorations will be in the Square Park; Kirk said she could check.
Kirk is a member of the Main Street Covington Board of Directors and said at a meeting in October members identified making the downtown a Christmas destination as a top priority.
"The main reason is to increase sales. Retailers downtown, their biggest push and where they make their season in the fourth quarter, the Christmas season. How best we can help those retailers and attract new ones is by creating a wonderful Christmas destination and drawing new customers," Kirk said.
Kirk said the lights would draw people from surrounding towns like Monroe, Social Circle and Madison as, "There's no city that's doing this within 100 miles that it's free."
Kirk said it would increase visibility for downtown Covington and make it more attractive for retailers and restaurants to locate there.
Goodman asked if people would really come to the Square, because it's such a small area, to see Christmas lights. Mayor Ronnie Johnston said he would love to see lights stretch all the way down Washington Street to Porterdale, but "we've got to crawl before we can get up and run" and the Square would be a great starting point.
The council did not vote on the matter.