By Joel Hall
Since the 1960s, when Melvin Newman moved from Oklahoma to work for the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA), he has had a deep passion for the city of Morrow.
In the 1960s, Newman helped bring sewer lines to what is now Clayton State University,by surveying and helping construct a pipeline from Panthers Creek to the north end of the campus.
Living in Morrow with his wife, Jean, for 44 years, Newman spent 30 years working for the Morrow Planning and Zoning Board, helping shape the landscape of the city.
Recently, in tribute, the city of Morrow dedicated a three-acre park to honor the Newmans.
The Melvin and Jean Newman Neighborhood Park, located on the corner of Old Rex Morrow Road and Reagan Chase, officially opened to the public on Saturday afternoon. Jeff Eady, Morrow public works director, said the new park will bring to nine the number of parks in the city, and will incorporate children's playground equipment, picnic tables, trash receptacles, park benches, and a soft-surface walking track.
"We want to make sure the residents of our area are in walking distance of a park," said Eady. "That way, we don't have to worry that citizens don't have a place to play, and they don't have to cross Highway 54 to get to the main park [near the Morrow Municipal Complex]. Before this park, there was not a park in walking distance [of the Brookwood subdivision], so this made it possible."
Eady said it is "fitting" that the new park, named after Melvin and Jean Newman straddles Panthers Creek -- the same creek Newman used to help bring Clayton State University its water.
"We named [the park] after Melvin and Jean Newman, because he has spent 30 years on the Planning and Zoning Board," Eady continued. "They're an asset to the city," Eady said.
Newman, 67, who spent 14 years as CCWA general manager, describes himself as an "outdoorsman." He said he is "humbled" to have the new park dedicated in honor of him and his wife, and hopes the park will be used heavily by the public.
"The city, to me, seems a good bit ahead of everybody because they name parks after people while they're still alive," Newman joked. "It's an honor. It's not something you can buy.
"Because of the high cost of land and the high density, it's hard for kids [to find places] to go and play," Newman added. "I'm kind of old fashioned. I feel like all kids should get in the dirt without too much concern. The park is something that will hopefully be used by everybody in that neighborhood."