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Covington will provide maintenance for downtown Square

COVINGTON — An agreement that transfers maintenance responsibilities for Covington’s downtown Square to the city from Newton County has been approved by both the city and county.

The Covington City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the county at its regular meeting Monday night; the county Board of Commissioners approved the MOU last week.

The agreement essentially formalizes an arrangement that already existed, according to Mayor Ronnie Johnston, since Covington traditionally provided landscaping services and trash removal for the downtown park.

Spelled out in the agreement are the facts that the city and county have each identified the Square as a component of their economic development strategies. In addition, the MOU acknowledges that the city has contracted with the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce to operate its Main Street Program, and that the Chamber intends to plan and permit events on the Square to promote tourism and economic development.

Under the agreement, the city will provide maintenance, which includes but is not limited to landscape maintenance, seasonal plantings and trash removal.

Maintenance does not include permanent changes to the Square, such as benches, retaining walls or hardscapes. The city would be required to get permission from the county for any permanent changes.

The agreement extends until June 30, 2014, unless either party provides 90 days advance notice to the other. The agreement will automatically renew on an annual basis unless the parties decide to terminate the agreement. The agreement will automatically be terminated should the county rescind its authorization of the use of the Square in connection with the Main Street Program.