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Decatur holding community meeting on town center plan on March 2

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Decatur holding community meeting on town center plan on March 2

People spread out on the Square in downtown Decatur on March 7, 2021. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur will host a community meeting on the Decatur Town Center Plan on Thursday, March 2, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore Street.

The plan was first adopted in 1982 and this is the first comprehensive look at downtown Decatur since then.

During the meeting, the planning team will share objectives and ideas that will shape the future of downtown Decatur, according to a Facebook post from the city. There will be activities to share what the city has learned from comments, survey responses, and ideas received so far.

To learn more about the plan and to RSVP for the March 2 meeting, click here.

In June 2022, the city commission approved a project budget of $410,000 and an agreement with MKSK, Inc., for planning services related to the downtown master plan. The agreement amount was $392,500.

“The Decatur Downtown Master Plan will build upon themes of the 2020 Strategic Plan, and with input from all stakeholders develop a strategic implementation plan where downtown is the focal point and will have a guide for years to come,” Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill previously said.

Threadgill also noted some goals of the plan, which include:

— Supporting economic growth while addressing quality of life issues such as safety, noise, and the unhoused population;

— Creating visually aesthetic placemaking to enhance the downtown historic architectural character and its unique identity;

— Balancing land use patterns with human-centered design; and

— Promoting transportation enhancements and safety that connect downtown, the residential neighborhoods, and Agnes Scott College.

The city hosted a kick-off meeting in November 2022. The presentation from the meeting notes things the planning team had heard about downtown Decatur at that time. It notes that some things that make Decatur unique are its walkability, the sense of community, access to MARTA, and a small-town feel.

There is a need for more greenspace and an urban park.

“New developments should incorporate more open spaces including parks, plazas, and courtyards,” the presentation states.

There’s also a need for more security, especially around the MARTA stations and the outskirts of downtown. The presentation also notes finding a humanitarian way to address the unhoused population, and also the need for more upkeep of downtown.

“The Square is still the heart of the community, but we need to fill empty storefronts – there is a need for more diverse businesses and incentives for entrepreneurs,” the presentation states.

MKSK is working with Hummingbird, a community engagement consulting firm.

“They are going to bring forward a public engagement process that will include a project website, one-on-one interviews with our stakeholders, focus group roundtables with those stakeholders, online and analog engagement, storefront displays, walking/bike tours, kiosks at existing events, do-it-yourself meetings-in-a-box…and then youth-specific activities,” Threadgill said.

MKSK is also working with Gray and Pape, who will provide cultural heritage management services, which include a downtown historic resources survey, and provide recommendations on how the city can include those cultural resources and heritage into the city’s implementation plan. The team also includes White and Smith, who will work with the community to recommend amendments to the unified development ordinance to align the outcomes of the downtown master plan and the UDO, Threadgill added.

The project is expected to be completed by April. The city and the Downtown Development Authority will plan to implement the master plan projects in the fiscal year 2023-2024 proposed budget.

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