How Will Decatur Use the United Methodist Children’s Home Property If Purchased?

The Decatur City Commission will vote at tonight’s meeting to purchase the United Methodist Children’s Home 77 acre property that sits along South Columbia Drive, just outside the Decatur city limits.  If approved, the city would then move to annex the property into the city limits.

But then what?

The City Manager Peggy Merriss’ memo to the commission notes that the city would then start up one of its favorite activities – community-based master planning!  But her note also goes on to give a sense of what the city is thinking about in terms of utilizing the property in the coming months/years….

The property includes athletic fields and a gymnasium that can be used to address the increasing demands of Decatur’s families and children for places to play and socialize. There are also existing facilities that could be used to house the City’s Children and Youth Services Division and help provide an opportunity to expand afterschool and summer programs.  There are approximately 25 acres of open and green space that can be preserved.

“The UMCH staff anticipates that they will be able to vacate the property in late summer/early fall, 2017.” , according to the City Manager.  So look for a lot more activity surrounding this purchase in the coming months.

17 thoughts on “How Will Decatur Use the United Methodist Children’s Home Property If Purchased?”


  1. Anyone know if the athletic fields would be open to use by anyone or closed off and for official school use only? It sounds like possibly they’d be open to the public, but I wanted to make sure before I got happy about this.

    1. It’s a city park so CSD won’t control access, however if you build nice, grass fields and you want to keep them nice, you pretty much have to restrict access. Otherwise people will be out there in all kinds of weather and the grass will be destroyed in no time. Artificial grass? No worries, but the cost to install just went up big time.

  2. If we are focusing a lot on athletic fields, I would also say an indoor pool would be a plus. All of our current community pools are outdoor and subject to weather/climate and an indoor pool would help to fill that gap.

    Do we know if there is a possibility of connecting this to the PATH network for bicycle access?

    1. It’s already adjacent to PATH all along Katie Kerr so having points along that stretch that go into the property and connect with whatever facilities end up there would make a lot of sense.

      1. Personally I would like more pedestrian friendly trails than bike paths within the park itself.

      2. Some of the land immediately adjacent to the Path on Katie Kerr is not owned by the Children’s Home.

        1. According to the parcel map, the Methodist property directly adjoins the PATH all the way from the intersection of Katie Kerr and Columbia to the northeastern edge of their site (which falls roughly between Wheatfields and Ashfield).

    2. There’s also a plan in the works to make the indoor pool at the Boys and Girls Club available for a variety of users.

  3. You are all so naive, it’s cute. This will clearly be sold for a Super Target, that long overdue counterbalance to the Walmart outside the north edge of town. Any space remaining will be developed as ground floor retail (read empty) covered by new 4 BR condos to support the dwindling school base.

    The only solution to all (any of) our problems is more retail and more kids.

    1. I sincerely hope this is not the case. As an alumni who fought the sale of this property and its 600+ possible homesites presented at the Dec. stakeholder meetings I am glad that at this point the city and not a developer will purchase the property.

  4. I am not that interested in the athletic fields, but there is a pond on the property that is a nice feature and a nature trail and picnicking area would be nice.

    I hope they do something a bit different–something we are not getting from the other Decatur parks.

    1. I was starting to get worried about what was happening round these parts. Almost 48 hours before the first Trader Joe’s post.

  5. Decatur doesn’t have an old-school video arcade with skee ball yet. That’d be a good spot for it.

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