The city of Decatur gained approximately 77 acres after purchasing it from the United Methodist Children’s Home [UMCH].
Officials called the deal a win-win situation for both parties involved, but now comes the more difficult part—figuring out what to do with it.
For weeks, Decatur officials posted announcements online, sent mailers and updated social media site requesting residents to make suggestions on what to do with the property.
On Feb. 11, those interested gathered at the UMCH’s former property to discuss the possibilities.
According to city officials, more than 400 people participated in the visioning event throughout the day.
“I hope that you are as impressed as I am with the turnout and the opportunities, the [visioning] board and all the different ways you can participate in this process,” Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said.
“Obviously the UMCH folks still have a heart for this piece of property and are thrilled the city of Decatur is here and making plans for amazing uses of this particular property.”
Decatur officials approved the purchase of the UMCH land in April 2017. The property was purchased for approximately $40 million. The UMCH moved its location to Tucker last year.
“We are grateful for the city of Decatur’s collaboration with us to preserve our historic Moore Chapel, which will offer our alumni, and others with strong ties to UMCH, a permanent place to celebrate and honor our history,” said Children’s Home President Rev. Hal Jones. “The determination of our UMCH Board, UMCH leadership team, and the city of Decatur leadership moved in harmony with voices of alumni, partners and neighbors, all of whom expressed commitment to preserving the great legacy symbolized by the chapel.”
During the visioning meeting, residents suggested the property could be used for a disc golf course, a running track or nature center.
Participants of the visioning event had the opportunity to take guided tours throughout the property and visit its buildings.
Community coordinator LeeAnn Harvey said allowing residents to have a say in the future of the property is important.
“People have a voice in what we do here in Decatur and I don’t think you get that in a lot of other cities,” Harvey said.
Decatur plans to host several interactive public workshops to discuss the community input with a consultant team. The city will host three workshops in March and the final one April 30. The first workshop will be held March 3 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Garrett said individuals can stay informed by visiting Decaturnext.com.
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