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Decatur City Commission approves agreement for renovations to McKoy Park dugouts

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Decatur City Commission approves agreement for renovations to McKoy Park dugouts

The Decatur City Commission met on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, to discuss renovating the McKoy Park dugouts, equipment for the police department and revenue bonds for the Decatur Housing Authority. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its Sept. 5 regular meeting, approved an agreement with CGS LLC for about $124,329 for renovations to the dugouts at McKoy Park Field.

Parks and Recreation Director Greg White said in a memo that the challenges with the dugouts include damaged roofing, lack of storage, and drainage issues. The dugouts are also a small and cramped space.

“New construction of the dugouts will include a new storage room, locker room, new steps, rails, drainage system, and roofing,” White said. “The project will include new netting as specified to remove the chain link fencing and to repair failing concrete on the bleacher seating area. Dugouts will be used for Decatur Parks and Recreation adult softball and Decatur High School baseball.”

During the regular meeting, Parks and Recreation Facilities Operations Manager Kim Whatley said an additional storage space will be built behind the first base dugout that will provide a changing area.

“It will include a storage space that will allow for some field-type things to be stored in there, but it does include a benched-in area with cubby lockers that would be able to be used not only by the players but also by officials,” Whatley said.

Resident Michael Vajda spoke supporting the dugout renovations during public comment. His son is on the Decatur High School baseball team.

“For six-plus seasons, the Decatur baseball team has been arguably the most successful sports team at Decatur High,” Vajda said. “Multiple region champions, several trips to the state final four, elite eight, sweet 16. The team has brought statewide and national attention to Decatur.”

He added that some players have gone on to play Division One baseball, and one former player is on the Atlanta Braves roster.

“All of this has been accomplished despite the well-below-average facilities that we have at McKoy Park,” Vajda said. “Even comparable to our neighbors in metro Atlanta, the facilities are nowhere near adequate for a high school baseball team in Georgia in 2023.”

He added the renovations have been a long time coming.

“Simply put, I’d really like to be able to go and have the whole team be able to be in dugouts and also have the ability for our kids to get there and take pride in the facilities that they have here in Decatur,” Vajda said.

In other business:

– The city commission will issue revenue bonds by the Decatur Housing Authority for the acquisition, rehabilitation, and operation of Philips Tower and Calvin Court.

The city commission approved the issuance of the bonds at its Sept. 6, 2022, meeting. The city will have no financial obligations for the bonds.

There are no financial implications for the city for issuing the bonds, Deputy City Manager David Junger said.

“The IRS requires the governmental unit in which the issuing agency, DHA, is located to approve the issuance of such revenue bonds even if the development is located outside of the city limits,” Junger said.

DHA Executive Director Doug Faust said in a memo that the TEFRA authorization expires after 12 months, so the bonds have to be approved again. The project bond financing and low-income housing tax credit application was preliminarily approved by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and the closing of the financing is scheduled for December 2023.

Philips Tower is located at 218 E. Trinity Place and the multifamily housing bonds would be for $35 million. Philips Tower was built in 1971 and has 219 one-bedroom units. About 30 units may be converted to project-based vouchers.

Calvin Court is located at 479 E. Paces Ferry Road NE in Atlanta, and the multifamily housing bonds would be for $35 million. The property was built in 1970 and is made up of 116 efficiency units and 121 one-bedroom units.

Hallmark Development Partners and SCG Development Partners plan to renovate the property, including interior unit repairs and replacements, exterior work, and repairs and replacements in common areas. The developers have a preliminary budget of about $57 million for Philips Tower and about $60 million for Calvin Court, according to memos from Faust.

Presbyterian Homes of Georgia has owned and managed the properties as affordable housing for a while and will continue to do so long term.

– The city commission also approved a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Decatur Land Trust to implement the Decatur Home Rehabilitation Program.

The commission approved $300,000 in funding for the program in December 2022. The funding will be disbursed over a three-year period.

“The MOU serves to formalize the terms and conditions under which the DLT will manage all aspects of the ReHAB Program,” Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill wrote in a memo. “The ReHAB Program was created to reduce some of the financial pressures experienced by low-income and legacy property owners by assisting them with major and minor home maintenance projects. The program seeks to enable Decatur’s low-income and legacy property owners to age in place, and remain in safe, accessible homes.”

— The city commission approved a contract with Axon Enterprises, Inc. in the amount of $113,000 over five years to replace the police department’s TASERs. Police Chief Scott Richards said the manufacturer of the department’s current TASERs has discontinued the model being used, so the police department has to upgrade its equipment.

The contract was approved by a vote of 4-1 with Commissioner Lesa Mayer casting the opposing vote.

“I feel like it’s really important to say that I have the utmost respect for Decatur police officers,” Mayer said. “There is a concern that I have that I think a lot of people share about weaponry becoming less safe and more deadly.”

She would like to see more funding for parks and recreation programming, after school care and other programs that lead to less policing being necessary in communities, Mayer said.

“We are a city with a police department,” Mayer said. “They are great human beings that deserve to work with the best policies and procedures, the best equipment that we can find for them, and should go home safely every day.”

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