There has been a recent outpouring of concern for and support for the continued protection of the character of Covington’s historic downtown core, affectionately and collectively referred to as “the Square.” This has been a great thing for the community to rally around. We all have a special fondness for downtown Covington and the last thing anyone wants is to mar its beauty or destroy its historic character. It makes me very proud of those who originally designed and built Covington and the generations who have protected it from unwanted changes.
I can only imagine the pride that those ancestors would feel at the thought of the sustained passion about the place they created and the evolution of that place they and their offspring have gracefully guided. It makes me wonder though, when was the last time we created anything for Covington that future generations will be equally proud of and passionate about protecting?
The historic core of Covington was part of the original 202.5 acres purchased by the Newton County Board of Commissioners in 1822 in order to create a county seat of government. The BOC hired a surveyor, laid out a grid of streets and subdivided the property so that they could sell tracts to individuals to build businesses, hotels, houses, churches, etc. The Commissioners built the first and second courthouses in the center of what we now refer to as the historic square park in the heart of downtown using the proceeds from those land sales to fund the construction.
In other words, the mem- bers of Newton County’s Board of Commissioners of 1822 were the first developers in Covington. Throughout the past 192 years there has been numerous developers who have added their touch to the character of Covington. Some have done better jobs than others, but have any of them come close to the original work of the Newton County Board of Commissioners? Is there any other place in Covington besides the historic core that we are as passionate about protecting?
As Covington continues to grow, we should keep this in mind. We need to ask ourselves, is what we are building or allowing to be built adding anything to Covington that future generations will be passionate about protecting? What kind of legacy is our generation going to leave for future generations?
Is anything along Hwy 278 going to stir passion in people’s hearts when they hear it is being vacated or is going to be torn down? Do we believe the newest Walmart will be the last Walmart built in Covington? Or will it be abandoned for the next new shopping center as the commercial developers race around the Covington By-Pass from I-20 to Porterdale leaving a wake of blighted commercial properties in oceans of broken asphalt.
It is not just the obligation of the Commissioners, or city Council members to make sure all future development is of the quality and character that is worth protecting, it is all of our responsibility. We need to make sure the elected officials know that we want to leave Covington a better place for future generations to enjoy and that we will stand behind them when tough decisions are made regarding what gets built and what doesn’t.