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Decatur skaters convince city commission to spend more on improving McKoy Skate Park

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Decatur skaters convince city commission to spend more on improving McKoy Skate Park

Julian Berman with the Decatur High School Skate Club spoke to the Decatur City Commission on Feb. 21. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission voted in 2022 to renovate the McKoy Skate Park for $190,000, with funding coming via a $200,000 donation from an anonymous donor.

But after the city commission approved the contract, the Decatur High School Skate Club contacted Decatur Active Living Director Greg White and said the proposed renovations weren’t enough. The skate club said the park needs concrete structures instead of prefabricated ones, because concrete structures are more durable. The skate club even offered to raise additional money to pay for the needed upgrades.

That won’t be necessary. At its Feb. 21 meeting, the city commission approved a $175,000 change order, bringing the total contract with American Ramp Company to $365,000.

Commissioners beamed as the skate club members, led by Julian Berman, made their case. Berman said the skate club consists of 15 students and is growing. Decatur Police know many of the members because they’ve had to chase them out of other improvised skate parks because the current skate park facilities at McKoy are inadequate.

Berman said the skaters promise to help the city maintain the park.

“We want you to know we are committed to being a strong partner,” Berman said. “We will use and care for the park and help advance this sport in our city among younger kids. If the club had a quality park, we could host workshops to introduce younger kids to the sport and hopefully recruit a few girls. While diverse, we are an all boys club right now. We think we are the first high school skateboarding club in the state of Georgia. We are proud of that.”

Commissioners said they were proud of the skate club members for making their wishes known and attending the city commission meeting.

“I’m very impressed with you all being here,” Commissioner Lesa Mayer said.

Here’s the Decatur High School Skate Club’s full letter to the commission:

In other business:

— The city commission approved an agreement with Breedlove Land Planning to design the track and field at Legacy Park. The contract amount is $285,000, and the project budget is $340,000.

The city, the Decatur School Board and the Decatur Public Facilities Authority have entered into an intergovernmental agreement to develop the project.

According to the Legacy Park Master Plan, a competition level track and field was one of the most requested facilities during the master planning process. The concept in the master plan has the track and field located to the east of the historic core and near the next to the conservation easement of the park.

The city will commit up to $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, and the school board will contribute up to $3 million in ESPLOST funds.

“Barring unforeseen conditions, we anticipate the project will be ready to bid by the end of the year,” Capital Projects Manager Hugh Saxon said.

In response to a question from City Commissioner Kelly Walsh, Saxon said that the field inside the track would be big enough for soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, band practices and “possibly football.”

Walsh has been an advocate of the project, which has been discussed for years.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

— The city commission approved a change order for maintenance of the Ebster stormwater vault. The change order is for $18,682.50 and increased the contract amount to $296,587.50. City Engineer Cara Scharer said the change order was requested due to the city’s decision to convert Ebster Field to synthetic turf and because a crane recently collapsed upstream from the vault.

— The city commission approved a $10,391 change order for geotechnical services performed by Atkins North America, Inc.

“Work was initiated as an on-call project to evaluate construction of the New Street road extension prior to the city’s acceptance of the new road,” Assistant City Manager David Junger said in a memo to the city commission. “The initial scope was for limited probing in the amount of $7,000, which found unsuitable materials. The first change order in the amount of $17,950 became necessary to perform more extensive testing, including numerous test pits, to determine the extent of unsuitable soils.

“The second change order in the amount of $10,391.25 was necessary, so Atkins could provide geotechnical oversight during required remediation activities and paving. Due to the time sensitive nature of the work, direction was given to Atkins to continue its work. Atkins proceeded in good faith with the increased scope. The city manager approved the initial amount and the first change order, but the amount of the second change order requires city commission approval.”

— Decaturish readers asked about Decatur’s plan for dealing with a train derailment like the one in Ohio that involved a train carrying toxic chemicals. In response to those questions, which Decaturish forwarded to the city, City Manager Andrea Arnold read a lengthy statement detailing the city’s preparedness plans and explained how the city would work with other agencies in the event of a similar disaster occurring in Decatur. Arnold said she would provide her full report on the city’s safety plan, which will be published on Decaturish soon. The short version is: the city has thought about this and there is a plan in place. But, Arnold added, any such derailment would be inherently, “Complex and chaotic.” There’s no getting around that. But the city routinely conducts training exercises for such incidents, and it’s something that’s been on the city’s radar for many years, Arnold said.

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