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Decatur sets timetable for United Methodist Children’s Home planning

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Decatur sets timetable for United Methodist Children’s Home planning

The former United Methodist Children's Home campus in Decatur. The campus is now called Legacy Park. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur is asking residents to take a fresh look at the United Methodist Children’s Home property and imagine what could be.

The planning process will kick off on Sunday, Feb. 11. The meeting starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m. It will be held at 500 South Columbia Drive in Decatur. Future meeting announcements and other details are being posted on the Decatur Next website, which tracks city projects.

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“While some welcome remarks from Mayor [Patti] Garrett are expected around 2 p.m., the event overall is organized for drop-bys,” the Decatur Next website says. “Come at your convenience during the four hour window and work your way through self-guided activities at your own pace. Weather permitting, you’ll also be able to take a self-guided tour to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the property.”

The city is planning four additional work shops with the final one set for April 30.

The workshop dates are:

– Saturday, March 3 | Workshop | 9-Noon

– Tuesday, March 6 | Workshop | 6-8 p.m.

– Saturday, March 10 | Workshop | 2-5 p.m.

– Monday, April 30 | Closing Workshop | 6-8 p.m.

“The UMCH visioning process will span roughly three months, launching with some collective big picture dreaming, then fleshing out ideas in greater detail in the weeks ahead,” the Decatur Next website says.

As part of its efforts to market the upcoming planning meetings, the city made this video offering possible ideas for using the property.

The city purchased the 77-acre campus in 2017 for $40 million. The city made the purchase using its newly created Public Facilities Authority, which borrowed most of the money for the deal. The city also received a low interest $11.5 million loan through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. The loan will pay for the purchase of 22 acres out of the total 77 acre campus on South Columbia Drive. The city won’t be able to develop this property as part of the loan agreement.

The city is recruiting residents and businesses to host “civic dinners,” which will be used to gather feedback as part of the planning process. There will be more information on how to participate in civic dinners during the Feb. 11 kickoff event.

City Manager Peggy Merriss said during the recent City Commission retreat that one of the things that will emerge from the planning process will be a new name for the property, as UMCH the organization has relocated to Tucker and Clarkston.

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