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City of Decatur planning to renovate Ebster Park to improve teen activity area

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City of Decatur planning to renovate Ebster Park to improve teen activity area

City staff, residents and teens gathered at the Ebster Recreation Center on March 19 to provide input on the renovation of Ebster Park. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur is redesigning Ebster Park to address issues related to access to the park, lighting, restrooms, and accessibility.

According to the Parks and Recreation Department’s website, improvements to the park include adding a restroom facility, upgrading the accessibility ramp, renovating the pavilion and basketball court, and considering new elements like a skate park.

In May 2023, the department was awarded a $2,088,803 Improving Neighborhood Outcomes in Disproportionately Impacted Communities grant from the governor’s office for the project. In November 2023, the Decatur City Commission approved an agreement with Perez Planning and Design for planning services for improvements in the Ebster teen activity area.

“Implementing this project would provide updated amenities and safer access for adjacent Decatur Housing Authority users and all community members,” Assistant Director of Recreation Sara Holmes wrote in a memo for the Nov. 27, 2023 city commission meeting. “If approved, park users would have access to restroom facilities, an open accessibility ramp, adequate safe lighting, and new recreational opportunities for all community members based on needs identified during the public engagement sessions.”

The grant application required submitting a project design and proposed budget. The city’s proposal had a caveat that the suggested amenities offered would be based on the city’s public engagement sessions during the project.

City staff, residents, and teens gathered at the Ebster Recreation Center on March 19 to provide input on what they would like to see at the park. Ideas varied widely, but all concepts included a basketball court, playground, restrooms, lighting, and a pavilion. A few ideas also included art, a skate park, a walking path, a zip line, and swings.

“Originally, they said that they forgot they even have a park,” Decatur Recreation Specialist Artesha Chaney said of the feedback from her small group. “It’s only because the park, they didn’t feel like it was made for them, and slowly it was being taken over, and it’s small.”

Chaney’s group also wanted to see a full basketball court and had suggested having single-rim hoops and a clear roof covering it so it could stay dry on rainy days.

“That’s what they feel like this demographic in this neighborhood really likes to play – not pickleball, not volleyball,” Chaney said.

Recreation Specialist Jonathan Holloman and Ebster Recreation Coordinator Dezirae Cooper talked with several teens in their small group. The teens agreed with others about having a full-size basketball court and a higher fence.

The group was passionate about having a “chill area” with seating, hammocks, a free little library, and Wi-Fi.

“They want better slides, tire swings, an obstacle course – ‘don’t remove the maze,’ that’s what they said – tables and chairs and a tall fence,” Cooper said. “No pickleball and no volleyball courts.”

Other groups suggested half-sized basketball courts to fit more elements in the space and including more basketball hoops.

Ebster Park is situated between the Ebster Recreation Center and the Decatur Police Department and is next to Ebster Field. Participants also agreed that the fence on the side closest to the police department should be higher to prevent balls from frequently going over it.

A few suggestions were made for various murals in the park. Resident Taylor Hudley suggested that murals could be placed at each park entrance. One could be an inspirational mural of quotes or headshots of individuals to encourage sportsmanship.

“We were thinking that this could be a reoccurring thing every month to encourage the kids for good behavior and generally everyone,” Hudley said. “That other mural would be inside of the basketball courts, something that is like pieces that stick to the gate that we can take off. Once wear and tear sets in, we could change it as we see fit.”

Perez Planning and Design and the parks and recreation department will use the feedback gathered to create a conceptual design. The design will be presented to the public during another meeting on May 8, and the team will present it to the city commission on May 20.

Construction documents will likely be developed between May 2024 and February 2025. Construction is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2025 and be completed around February 2026.

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