Commissioner J.C. Henderson proposed several District 4 SPLOST projects to the Newton County Board of Commissioners. One project included acquiring more land near the Nelson Heights Community Center in order to build a football field. Henderson failed to receive support for any of his proposed projects. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)
COVINGTON — Newton County Commissioner J.C. Henderson’s attempt to receive approval to spend SPLOST funds on recreation improvements failed to receive support from his fellow commissioners.
Through County Attorney Tommy Craig’s guidance in preparing a resolution for the Board of Commissioners, Henderson outlined on Tuesday six geographic areas where he’d like the county to acquire land in order to build community parks. He also wanted to provide additional funding to the New Leaf Center, Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter, Nelson Heights Community Center and Washington Street.
After an hour-long closed session at Tuesday’s BOC meeting, commissioners heard the budget presentation from Craig about the outlined projects.
Craig said in an interview Wednesday that there was $1.1 million in SPLOST funding for projects but about $500,000 has already been spent on the New Leaf Center.
“He had earmarked various places to see if we can acquire land for parks and also make available grants to the various entities on the list,” Craig said. “There’s about $538,000 left in SPLOST for recreation and community facilities.”
The areas where Henderson wanted to purchase land included: Nelson Heights, Victoria Station, Oxford Road, Trailblazer Park, Dinah Pace and property near Fire Station No. 7 on Brown Bridge Road.
Henderson said Wednesday he wanted to acquire additional acres on the Nelson Heights property in order to build a football field. He said he wanted to purchase the other properties in order to give the citizens new community parks.
Henderson made the motion during Tuesday’s meeting to approve the proposed projects but it failed to move forward when no other commissioner offered a second. Commissioners made no comments about the projects and funding before the meeting was adjourned.
However, Commissioners Nancy Schulz and John Douglas raised concerns prior to the closed session that they had no information in their packet about the District 4 SPLOST projects agenda item.
Schulz said she felt there wasn’t enough information provided going into the meeting and was concerned no one from the Recreation Department or the community centers attended or gave input.
“I think the issue for me was that I didn’t know how the recreation department felt about these projects because they weren’t there. No one from Washington Street or anyone else was there to give input,” Schulz said on Wednesday. “We may want to take a look at the projects in the future but we really need public input, have a plan and hear presentations from the parties that would receive the funds.”
Attempts to reach Douglas for comments on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Henderson said he’s unsure why the projects weren’t approved.
“I don’t understand what the problem was, I think the projects are in line with how the SPLOST funds should be spent,” Henderson said Wednesday. “It’s the people in the county that came to me and suggested this is how we use the money. Community parks are wanted. New Leaf needs computers to run their workforce program and now they won’t be able to do that.”