COVINGTON — A dozen Covington residents attended the regular meeting of the Covington Board of Education and several asked district officials questions about its plans for the future use of school grounds on Thursday.
A meeting was held in December to gather community feedback on how to best use the land that will be vacant after the Covington Elementary School (CES) and Covington Middle School (CMS) are demolished. There are also more than 8 acres available to the district near the new building site.
For the 8 acres, they mentioned possibly putting in three practice football fields. The second idea of having three youth baseball or softball diamonds was mentioned for that site as well.
For the CES site, two practice football fields and a grass parking lot has been proposed. The second suggestion of having one practice football field, one youth baseball or softball diamond, and a grass parking lot there was also mentioned. The district had discussed the possible expansion of Smith Field locker rooms. Superintendent Gene Gooding stated that the locker rooms would be used for more than football, but also for cross country, track, softball, baseball, and more.
According to previous reports of the plans that were proposed, there was no final decision or announcement made since the meeting.
Residents Ed Boggs, Rocky Yingst and others said they attended the meeting to seek answers on what was to be done at the elementary site and hoped the district would keep something in the area for children to use on that side of town.
“It’s not about football, it’s not about softball or baseball. It’s about community land that people have used for decades,” Boggs said.
Boggs said he felt the communication about the proposed plans had stopped and he had heard through the grapevine the proposed ball field was no longer going to be part of the future use plans at the elementary site.
Resident Roger Finfrock said his company would donate materials, labor and maintenance of a new ball field at the elementary school if the district gave him the OK to start the project.
Finfrock said the project has been an on-again, off-again ordeal that he believed has since returned to a football practice field on a plain grassy lot.
Board member Mark Miller said it was the board of education’s job to be fiscally responsible with the district’s needs and funding and had asked for the community’s input several times prior.
Miller also said a complex concept for softball/baseball diamonds would be ideal to keep families in one central location rather than build a single ball field away from future fields.
“I’m not looking at softball needs versus football needs. I’m looking at what the school needs overall and what is the best thing from a fiscal responsible (standpoint),” Miller said.
Miller thanked the community members for attending and for their suggestions.
As the discussion was wrapping up, board member Dr. Dean Pond requested Superintendent Gene Gooding meet with the residents to continue to discuss the district’s plans for the site.
“I think we need to have further discussion, I really do,” Dr. Pond said. “I think we need to be respectful of their concerns and see what options are available if any and thank them for their input — obviously, we would have liked to have had that earlier but that is the way it is. It’s never too late to give another opinion.”
Gooding said he will meet with all parties who have expressed interest in the coming weeks.
The board approved a contract for the high school track resurfacing project for $49,000 with the All American Track Corp. The board also approved a contract for the district’s parking lot project with Wager Paving for $285,962. The board approved a right of way dedication plat to extend Chestnut Street north of the proposed 90 space parking lot.
Gooding reported the class composite pictures are in storage and the district is planning on making a decade-by-decade display to be installed next year.
Reach Melanie Yingst at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews