Decatur to reveal first ‘concept options’ for old UMCH property

Decatur is unveiling its first-draft “concept options” for the old United Methodist Chidren’s Home property, 6 to 8 p.m., April 30 at the Ebster Recreation Center gym, 105 Electric Avenue.

In the past two months over a thousand ideas have been submitted for the property’s future use. The Atlanta-based design firm Cooper Carry is serving as consultants who are collating all the data into the options.

The city-run Decatur Next website writes, “Expect roughly 45 minutes devoted to presentation of the various draft concepts, followed by a variety of breakout activities allowing for comment and ranking of the options.”

The UMCH occupied the site for 144 years until selling its remaining 77 acres (it was once 226 acres) to Decatur for $40 million last August.

City Manager Peggy Merriss said she hopes a master plan will finish in July or August and come before the city commission for approval by August or September.

As one of the densest cities in Georgia (22,000 population over 4.2 square miles), only 2.1 percent of Decatur’s land is used for parks, or 4.12 percent counting the city cemetery. The UMCH tract is larger than Decatur’s two biggest parks, Glenwood and the city cemetery, combined.

“Monday night is a big deal,” Merriss said. “For the first time we’ll get to see some tangible results. For anyone involved in the purchase of that property, this is one of the highlights of our careers. But it’s not unrealistic to say the full build-out could take 15 to 20 years.”