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First input meeting Sunday on future use of UMCH property

Decatur is hosting a “Kick-off Celebration and Visioning Workshop” for the old United Methodist Children’s Home property 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11 at former administrative building, 500 South Columbia Drive.

Decatur purchased the 77-acre tract in August for $40 million.

The eastern section, or back 22 acres, including a lake, woods and community garden, gets mostly preserved as it stands today. The middle portion includes a gym, outdoor pool and a number of acres for various playing fields.

The most critical section relating to city development is the western portion fronting South Columbia Drive. The city says there are no definitive plans for this section until the community master planning’s completed. This area includes 19 buildings, seven built between 1903 and 1919, six of those made of granite.

Sunday participants can take a self-guided tour, weather permitting, through 10 buildings. You’ll also get asked some of the city’s critical questions including: What do you want to preserve? What would you like to see added in the years ahead? How do you use, or want to use, the site? And how can everything be best connected with the broader community?

Future input sessions/workshops are scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon March 3, 6 to 8 p.m. March 6, 2 to 5 p.m. March 10 and 6 too 8 p.m. April 30 (closing workshop). City staff hopes to present a master plan to commissioners by late summer or early fall.

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