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Decatur considers renaming old United Methodist Children’s Home property ‘Legacy Park’

Decatur Metro ATL

Decatur considers renaming old United Methodist Children’s Home property ‘Legacy Park’

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

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

A proposed name change for the former United Methodist Children’s home property would pay homage to its historic significance in Decatur.

Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne said city officials will formally suggest the property be renamed Legacy Park at a meeting later this month.

A new name will also clear up confusion with the United Methodist Children’s Home organization which still exists but has relocated.

“We have been seeking community input and suggestions for a name for this property throughout the planning process,” Menne said. “We had very few suggestions and none of them worked. The idea of Legacy Park was something we began to discuss as we talked about our desire to honor the legacy of the original United Methodist Children’s Home and the fact that our city’s efforts to purchase this property will also create a lasting legacy we can pass on to future generations. And, of course, it really will function much like a park. We talked about the idea at recent stakeholder meetings and received very positive feedback. We expect that the name will be made as a formal recommendation as part of the presentation of the final vision and master plan to the City Commission later this month.”

The Children’s Home has been in Decatur since 1873 and was established to care for children orphaned during the Civil War, according to its website. 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 paid 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.

As part of the agreement, UMCH retained ownership of the Moore Chapel on campus, and the city has agreed to preserve the grave of UMCH founder Jesse Boring.

The planning process for the use of the property began earlier this year. A consulting firm for the city unveiled the plan for the property in June. The plan was based on community input.

The plan includes greenspace, an amphitheater, track and field facility and a variety of affordable housing options. The property will also become home to a new orchard, farmer’s market and arboretum among other features of the development.

A few residents have voiced disappointment in the plan already because the plan doesn’t include any of the much-discussed athletic facilities that students and parents have been asking for. While the plan features a new track and field facility, the track likely won’t be built for several years.