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Decatur Diary | May 1, 2018

Draft UMCH Options Presented, Community Survey Released

Multiple options for how the former United Methodist Children’s Home property might be put to use in the years ahead were unveiled Monday night, April 30, for a curious and enthusiastic crowd of over 250 residents.

The presentation capped two months of community input and discussion.

Filling the Ebster gym at the Beacon Municipal Center, attendees were introduced to three concepts — each reflecting different priorities and costs — as well as potential partners that could prove key to making them a reality.

“None of these options are presently funded,” stressed presenter Allison Bickers of the Cooper Carry-led project team. “As you consider each one, be thinking about what partners might be necessary and who they might be.”

Given the expansive nature of the property, all options were able to incorporate various forms of recreation and housing, the two features most often requested by the community, but the character and intensity of each varies by design.

Culling from the now 2,000 ideas contributed thus far, the presented plans demonstrated different approaches to incorporating the various elements — one primarily focused on passive enjoyment of the property with minimal disruption to the historic character of the campus; one prioritizing active recreation and competitive sports; and one particularly responsive to community calls for affordable housing solutions.

Each adds a playground and retains the gym and pool as accessible community amenities.

Further orient yourself in the three options below.

Option 1: Passive Recreation

Option 1 is best described as an effort to maintain and augment the pastoral nature of the campus in line with its existing character. Existing sports fields remain and get refurbished. Diverse housing options (28 units at various levels of affordability) are added but get discretely tucked into the edges of the property. Trails allowing for cross country running, easy strolls, or bicycling weave their way throughout, connecting a playground, an arboretum, the community garden, a small amphitheater, and the lake and forests of the conservation easement with the East Decatur Greenway.

Option 01. Click for larger view.


Option 2: Get Active

Option 2 brings the action. Though it requires the greatest level of up-front capital costs, it also delivers the highest level of returns, meeting some frequently articulated community needs head on in ways that can be monetized for their long-term sustainability.

Foremost are two new athletics facilities — a track and field facility, and a multiple-court tennis and pickleball complex. Included within their designs are the complementing elements that make competitive-level sports facilities viable — particularly large-format lighting, bleachers, and a substantial parking lot to accommodate users.

Cross country gets a specific trail that winds its way past a new multipurpose field and throughout the property. Housing is also a component, matching the site’s greater intensity with 61 units, also at various levels of affordability.

Option 02. Click for larger view.


Option 3: Welcome Home

Option 3 focuses most heavily on using the property to deliver affordable housing opportunities. Envisioned with 128 units in a variety of formats, it orients the bulk of them in a pocket village at the southwestern corner of the site, adjacent to a reconfigured Katie Kerr.

Existing ballfields become less structured as open greenspace while trails continue to wind throughout the property. The small amphitheater, comparable to Option 1, is also included.

Option 03. Click for larger view.


Miss the Meeting, Still Want to Comment?

At the conclusion of the presentation, attendees were afforded opportunity to share their reactions and comment on their preferences. Those who were unable to make the meeting are encouraged to attend the City Commission Work Session at 6:30pm on Monday, May 7th where the presentation will be repeated. Public comment will not be taken at the Work Session, as is customary, but there will be input boards set up in the City Hall entry lobby immediately following for audience input.

Commission Work Session
Monday, May 7, 2018 | 6:30pm
City Hall Commission Room
509 North McDonough Street, Decatur

Finally, we’ve also launched an online survey available to all. It closes Sunday, May 13 so please chime in!

Stay tuned for news on our next meeting. Until then, here’s a collection of photos from the evening. Click any image to launch the slideshow viewer.


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