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Decatur City Commission adopts parks, recreation master plan 

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Decatur City Commission adopts parks, recreation master plan 

The Decatur City Commission adopted the parks and recreation master plan during its regular meeting on March 20, 2023, at Decatur City Hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission approved the parks and recreation master plan during its regular meeting on March 20. 

The Decatur Planning Commission, at its March 14 meeting, recommended that the city commission adopt the parks and recreation master plan, which is called Recreatur. Recommendations in the plan could cost a total of about $150 million.

“An updated to the city’s 2002 Athletic Facility Master Plan emerged as an action item in the 2020 Decatur Strategic Plan,” Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill wrote in a memo. “The Athletic Facility Master Plan has served as a guide for 20 years, and the recreation and parks system is due for a new vision for improving and expanding the system for the next [10] years and beyond.”

The parks and recreation master plan lays out that vision and includes 35 policies and 186 steps with key performance indicators, responsible parties and time frames, Threadgill said in the memo.

Some of the big-ticket identified in the plan include:

— $1.2 million to improve restrooms at Glenlake Park.

— $1 million to improve the field at Adair Park

— $2.5 million to improve the access and field at Glenlake Park

— $2.6 million to improve baseball fields at Glenlake Park

— $3.5 million to create a neighborhood park in downtown Decatur

— $2 million to build a lighted basketball court, pavilion, restroom buildings, and a skate park at Ebster Field

— $11.2 million for a Sugar Creek Garden / Oakhurst Park master plan that would include enhanced softball and multi-purpose fields

— $5 million to create a Scott Boulevard Trail that would connect city parks

— $3.9 million to create a trail from downtown to Legacy Park

The plan suggests project ideas related to City Schools of Decatur, including $1.5 million for a plan and park amenities at Beacon Hill Middle School,  $1.5 million to improve the baseball and mini rectangle field at Westchester Elementary, and $1.5 million to improve baseball fields at Glennwood Elementary. 

“It was looking at all greenspaces, but primarily city-owned spaces because if it’s not owned by the city there’s still some potential partnership opportunities, especially when you think of partnerships with the City Schools of Decatur, as well as land owned by places of worship,” Threadgill told Decaturish. 

School facilities would be under CSD’s purview, but the plan recommends there be more formalized partnerships and agreements with the school district and other potential partners. 

The plan also identifies 342 W. Trinity Place, the greenspace owned by CSD, as an area that could become a park. CSD has plans to construct a new combined early learning center and upper elementary school on the property, which is located along West Trinity Place between Electric Avenue and Commerce Drive.

“City staff and staff of the City Schools of Decatur [have] met, and they are open to further conversations, but they still need to prepare their own plans and studies for their enrollment. They’re doing that right now,” Threadgill said. “There’s no formal recommendation of having that as a park. We’re just not at that point.”

The Recratur plan aims to develop a long-range vision for the city’s parks and recreation system, identify opportunities to address the community’s needs, identify partners and provide an implementation plan and timeline, said Carlos Perez, president of Perez Planning & Design, the consultant drafting the plan. 

The vision of the draft plan is to enhance lives across communities, and the mission is to provide quality experiences that promote healthy living and connections.

The adopted plan includes 10 values that were identified by city staff. They are – the highest standards in the field, active living, inclusion, positive work culture, innovation, partnerships, quality service, accountability, stewardship, and accessibility.

Additionally, the plan includes three guiding principles of equity, sustainability, and connectivity. 

“The idea is to ensure equitable access across the city, and do so for a variety of elements including park land, neighborhood parks, natural areas, indoor facilities and outdoor facilities,” Perez said. 

In terms of sustainability, Recreatur looks at maximizing environmental sustainability, which includes protecting tree canopy, prioritizing water in parks, and bring funding strategies, educating the community on ecological resilience. 

The final guiding principle was connectivity. One thing the consultants heard throughout the planning process was an idea to integrate technology into the parks and recreation system, so participants can easily sign up for programs and facilities. The plan recommends implementing that new technology. 

“It also brings the management of the Decatur Cemetery, or parts of it, working with public works, under the parks and recreation department, and then creating a culture that’s the Decatur way, an experience that’s unique to Decatur…,” Perez said. “Lastly, as it relates to creating a connected system, this idea of physically connecting a system.” 

This recommendation builds on the PATH system in a way that connects the different park spaces, whether it’s through different types of bike and walking facilities. 

To pay for the more than $150 million plan, the city will consider multiple funding options, including Special Option Local Sales Tax (SPLOST), General Obligation Bond, fundraising, and grants. Allocation of funds to improve existing facilities, develop new parks and recreation facilities, develop walking and biking trails, and acquire parkland will require an ongoing prioritization process. 

In other business: 

– The city commission approved temporary special event beer and wine licenses for events, including the Amplify Music Festival, Decatur Arts Festival, Truckin’ Tuesdays and the SUDS Festival. 

The Amplify Music Festival will be held on Friday, April 28, and The Decatur Arts Festival will be held May 5-7. Both events will take place on the Square.

Legacy Decatur was approved for a beer and wine sales at Truckin’ Tuesdays in May and September. This spring, Truckin’ Tuesdays will be held on May 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. In the fall, the event will be held on Sept. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Legacy Decatur was also approved for beer and wine sales at the SUDS 2023 beer festival. The event will be held on Oct. 28 at Legacy Park.

“Although there are no alcohol sales at the SUDS event, a state alcohol license is required for the beer distributors,” said Madeleine Henner, Legacy Decatur Programs Director, in a memo. 

– The city commission approved a resolution declaring the city’s intent to pursue the Georgia Municipal Association’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging certification.

“This is the first year that this program is in existence,” Equity and Engagement Director Renae Jackson said. “GMA’s Certified City of DEI&B was created to recognize cities that adopt policies and practices promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within their municipal government and community.”

Angela Walker contributed to this article. 

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