This model of the ampitheater, pavilion and gateway proposed for Legion Field was crafted by Planning Director Randy Vinson. - Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum
COVINGTON -- Mayor Ronnie Johnston cast the tie-breaking vote Monday night in favor of the city terminating an intergovernmental agreement with the Recreation Commission for the leasing of Legion Field.
The council has been in discussions about using the site as an entertainment venue for the community for some time.
"At the present time an amphitheater is part of the draft design. Also included is the proposal to rebuild the pavilion area, new entries and remodeling of the existing building. The area will still be very open and useful for a multitude of different type functions," said City Manager Leigh Anne Knight.
The first step toward achieving those goals was to terminate the lease with the Recreation Commission, but the four council members present were divided, with Councilmen Mike Whatley and Chris Smith voting in favor and Councilwomen Janet Goodman and Hawnethia Williams opposed. Councilman Keith Dalton and Councilwoman Ocie Franklin were absent.
Goodman said she was opposed because she wants the city to have the property earlier than Jan. 1, when the termination would become effective. The intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Recreation Commission that was established in 2006 automatically renews on Jan. 1 of each calendar year, through 2016, unless the city agrees to terminate on or before Nov. 1 and gives the Recreation Commission notice within 10 days of its action. Goodman previously said at the council's retreat in April that she wanted to have the venue up and running by summer.
Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon noted during Monday's council meeting, however, that it's unlikely the city would be able to get anything constructed before the first of the year.
Following the vote, Knight said the next step is to prepare a letter letting the Recreation Commission know of the termination.
The 8.5-acre tract at 3138 Mill St. is used by the Recreation Commission for football and cheerleading. In addition, the YMCA uses the property for soccer and for summer camps. It's not yet clear how the city's decision will impact those programs, but Knight said that will be discussed with those entities. The property is also used as fairgrounds.
The proposed upgrades to Legion Field include an amphitheater, pavilion and remodeling of the existing building.
Planning Director Randy Vinson has designed a model that was on display in the council room Monday evening.
Vinson said the bandshell will be 36 feet tall and 36 feet across at the stage opening.
"It is designed to be constructed out of rough-sawn pine that we will have milled from trees at the city's land application facility," he said.
The concrete slab stage will sit on a 4 foot tall granite base and be sited in the southwest corner of the park facing out toward U.S. Hwy. 278.
"The intent is to use the traditional form of a bandshell to help direct the sound out toward the audience, thereby reducing the need for amplification as well as keeping the sound directed toward the more commercial areas and away from the residential areas," he said.
Plans also include a 150-by-38 foot pavilion to be constructed out of rough-sawn pine timbers, with granite bases at each column and pine columns and beams holding the roof structure.
"The design will be similar to the pavilions in Turner Lake Park and Clark's Grove and will be placed where the old pavilion was," Vinson said.
"The existing fair building will be renovated and the restrooms will be upgraded. We would like to put a new granite veneer base below the window sills, open up the blocked in windows and add operable wooden shutters to protect the windows when the building is not in use," he added.
"We will also build a monumental gateway into the park off Mill Street out of rough-sawn pine with a granite base. The gateway will be large enough to accommodate tractor-trailers," he continued. "The same design for the monumental gateway can be used in a scaled down version at two new proposed pedestrian access points, one near the YMCA parking lot and the other at the end of Sockwell Street."
The cost to do all of that has apparently not been finalized.
"I am not sure that we have a final estimated cost as we are still working on the designs and projects that will be done to the area," Knight said.