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Legacy Park Board considers plans for new athletic track

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Legacy Park Board considers plans for new athletic track

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The Administration Building at Legacy Park on South Columbia Drive in the city of Decatur on August 12, 2020. The park occupies the former site of the United Methodist Children’s Home. Photo by Dean Hesse.


By Cathi Harris, contributor 

Decatur, GA — A new running track and multipurpose athletic field at Decatur’s Legacy Park would cost an estimated $4 million to build, a local volunteer group said Thursday.

In a presentation to the Legacy Decatur board, which manages Decatur’s Legacy Park, members of the Legacy Park Athletics and Recreation Coalition (LPARC) said they have been working for the past two years to come up with a conservative but realistic estimate of the cost to construct a long-desired running track at Legacy Park.

“It’s more than just a track,” LPARC member Adam Pinsley clarified. “With the track in our plan comes a much-needed multipurpose field. This will provide many kinds of opportunities for active living for residents of all ages and skill levels and abilities from recreation on up to competitive sports.”

LPARC is made up of Decatur residents, parents, coaches and business owners who all believe the space would be a vital asset to both the community and to student-athletes in the City Schools of Decatur, Pinsley said.

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Concept drawing of the proposed track and multipurpose field at Legacy Park. Credit: Legacy Park Athletics and Recreation Coalition.

“Now and in the future, outdoor recreation spaces in our community are going to be essential,” Pinsley added. “We still have a lot of hurdles to overcome in terms of timing and funding, but we now have a plan that is ready to go.”

The field would be located near the existing gym and swimming pool, as indicated in the map of the Legacy Park Master Plan, and situated so that additional amenities could be added later, LPARC member Conor McNally said.

“We wanted to locate it in a way that avoids tree removal and works with the existing [land] grade,” he said. “The first phase of the project will be as cost-competitive as possible, while still allowing room to add facilities down the road. For example, there is no field house at the moment, we would just use bathroom facilities at the existing gym.”

The track would be an oval, eight-lane synthetic track with a synthetic turf field that could accommodate all competitive track-and-field events, except throwing events that could be held on a larger open space nearby.

Using the site plan, LPARC sought price estimates from two different construction companies that specialize in outdoor athletic facilities. The estimates were provided in late 2019 and do reflect slightly lower costs than the city can expect to see if it were to begin construction now.

“Unfortunately, as many of you are aware, we are dealing with a lot of cost escalation in this area,” McNally said. The initial estimates received by LPARC were around $3.95 million but would probably be at least three to five percent higher now.

Responding to a question from Legacy Decatur board member Brian Smith, McNally estimated the project would take a year to a year and a half once funding was secured. “If you were to find $4 million under the Christmas tree, then get the drawings finished and bid the project, construction could take about six to eight months.”

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The coalition did not recommend any funding sources for the project, but noted that the city and school district might both share the cost of developing and maintaining the facility as it could also be used to host student athletic events.

In other business, the Legacy Decatur board voted to approve its 2021 budget. The budget projects revenue of $218,080 with estimated expenditures totaling $186,240. Legacy Park’s main source of revenue is contributions from the city budget, supplemented with the rental income from nonprofits who lease space there as well as event fees from things like weddings and film location shoots, said Lyn Menne, who is working as an interim staff support person to the board.

The park’s main expenditures would be for personnel–the budget calls for hiring a part-time executive director, a weekend event coordinator, and a full-time administrative assistant–and professional and contractual services costs.

Professional services cover things like website design and marketing and communications services for the park, while contractual services would pay for landscaping contracts and the planning and purchase of outdoor furniture and signage.

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