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Decatur City Commission plans to buy Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club for $5 million

COVID-19 Decatur

Decatur City Commission plans to buy Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club for $5 million

The Oakhurst indoor pool at the Samuel L. Jones Boys and Girls Club. Photo obtained via decaturga.com
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Editor’s note: The City Commission approved the purchase at its Sept. 21 meeting. Look for additional details on Decaturish.com tomorrow, Sept. 22. Here is our earlier story …

Decatur, GA — Two months after the Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club in Oakhurst announced it was closing its doors, the Decatur City Commission is planning to buy the property for $5 million.

The Sept. 21 meeting agenda includes a “Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.” The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Details on how to view the meeting and provide public comments are included at the end of this article.

If approved, the city would buy the 5.4-acre property at 450 East Lake Drive for $4.94 million.

“This is consistent with the current market value for property in the city of Decatur which is approximately $1 million per acre for residential property and $1.5 million per acre for commercial property,” a memo from City Manager Andrea Arnold says. “It is anticipated that the financing of the acquisition will include bonded debt as well as transfers from the general and/or capital improvement funds.”

Arnold’s memo also says, “This purchase will protect outdoor spaces that are in greater demand due to the global pandemic and the benefits they offer to public health.”

The city had an inside track on the purchase of the property. The city of Decatur leases the indoor pool at the Boys & Girls Club. As part of the 10-year lease, signed in 2016, the city was given a right of first refusal if the property was ever put on the market.

The Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club had been in operation since 1972 before it shut its doors.

Claire Guitton, Chief Operating Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, sent a statement to Decaturish explaining the decision.

“We have made the difficult decision not to reopen this location in the fall and to immediately begin the process of relocating the club,” Guitton said. “For nearly 50 years, we have served kids and teens at the Jones Club. We’ve enjoyed getting to know these kids, families, and the overall community.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a financial strain on the  Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.

“Due to COVID-19 and the ripple effects of the pandemic, we are battling a tough financial landscape for the rest of this year and into 2021,” Guitton wrote. “We have been fortunate to keep our full-time staff employed throughout this crisis and engaged in critical work supporting kids and families. As we look toward 2021, we are planning for a sizable loss in funding and we are bracing for that now.”

 

Decatur also is a different community now than when the club first opened, Guitton said.

“When considering club closures or relocations, we take into consideration a number of factors including: the need in the area, average daily attendance and trends over time, condition of the facility, the cost to serve each member, and local revenue and county board support,” Guitton said. “As we plan for the future, we are evaluating several of our club locations in an effort to serve the most kids with a focus in the areas of greatest need. As you know, over the last few decades, the Decatur area has seen a demographic shift and this area now reports above-average child well-being ratings. The Jones team has had to recruit further and further outside of this community to find the kids and teens with the greatest need. The facility is also in need of significant updates, however [it] represents a valuable asset to BGCMA. We plan to sell the facility and relocate to a better space in an area with higher need, likely South DeKalb.”

To see the full agenda for the Sept. 21 meeting, click here.

The Decatur City Commission’s Sept. 21 meeting will be conducted via Zoom. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Here is more information on how to participate:

– View the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at  https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video.

– Register in advance to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting at https://zoom.us/j/93488278666. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

– If you are unable to participate in the virtual meeting, you may email your “public comments” on agenda items or submit “requests and petitions” by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 21st to: Andrea Arnold, City Manager, andrea.arnold@decaturga.com.

– The meeting session will be open to the public until the City Commission votes to enter into Executive Session.

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