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Legacy Decatur project to provide fundraising support for John Lewis memorial


Legacy Decatur project to provide fundraising support for John Lewis memorial

Legacy Park on S. 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 — The Legacy Decatur Project, the nonprofit organization that manages Decatur’s Legacy Park, will also serve as the fundraising arm of the cooperative effort to construct a memorial in downtown Decatur honoring the life of the late Rep. John Lewis.

The memorial would go where a Confederate monument once stood before the county pulled it down in June following a judge’s order to remove it.

At its meeting Thursday, the Legacy Decatur board voted unanimously to pursue a memorandum of understanding with DeKalb County and the John Lewis Memorial Task Force that would allow Legacy Decatur to serve as the platform for collecting donations for the memorial effort and distributing the funds once the project gets underway.

The nonprofit’s role would be similar to the way it has served as conduit for collecting private donations to support the small business emergency loan and grant program initiated by the City of Decatur in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The [memorial] is not something this board would be responsible for, but would serve as the repository for the funds collected and then–upon authorization by the designated signatories from the county and task force–would then disburse the funds as needed,” Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett clarified during the meeting. 

Garett and DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson formed the task force to construct the memorial.

They are currently conducting a nationwide search for an artist and hope to have the finished memorial in place by May 2022. The total cost of the project is estimated to be at least $300,000, she said.

Legacy Decatur was chosen as it already has an online platform and the structure in place to accept and hold contributions and can issue the needed tax-exemption letters to donors.

The Legacy Decatur board voted to authorize board Chair Tony Powers to negotiate and execute the final agreement.

In other news:

-The board voted unanimously to approve a three-year employment contract with Lyn Menne to serve as Legacy Decatur’s executive director. The position is part-time position, with annual compensation of $38,400.

– The board voted to authorize its executive director to execute a contract with architecture and engineering firm Stevens and Wilkinson in an amount not to exceed $18,020 for engineering and design services related to the stabilization and future renovation of the barn on the Legacy Park property. Repair of the barn is a priority of the park’s master planning committee both for its historical significance to the area as well as safety issues posed by its current situation, Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold said.

The contract with Stevens and Wilkinson will cover engineering services for stabilizing the barn, which is covered by this year’s budget, Menne added, and additional drawings and design services will allow the board to develop an estimate for renovation of the barn for consideration in the city’s budgeting process for next year.

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