Decatur In Talks To Buy The United Methodist Children’s Home

Al Such / WABE

Audio version of the story here.

The city of Decatur wants to buy the 77-acre United Methodist Children’s Home property on South Columbia Drive.

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett says the city wants to use the land for greenspace and some of the buildings for after-school and senior programs.

“It is the intention to preserve the property and sort of honor the mission of the Methodist church in the same vein,” Garrett says. The home was founded in 1873 to care for the children orphaned by the Civil War.

Debora Burger, a former employee and alumna of the home, was worried when she first heard the UMCH’s board of trustees were considering selling.

“To plow it down and just have a housing development without preserving any of the history of it, I don’t think is the right thing to do with that space,” she says.

But now that the city is getting involved, Burger says, “It makes me feel better to think that there would be greenspace and some of the building and space preserved rather than a big housing development, which is what was proposed.”

Burger started a petition last week to save the property because neighbors are worried the site might be developed into a large subdivision.

Garrett says the city is shying away from any residential plans. She says if and when the city signs a deal, it will host community input meetings to determine an exact use plan.

Children’s Home officials estimate the property value at $35 million.

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