Could the Oakhurst Boys & Girls Club property be used for another Decatur school?
This story has been updated.
After the city of Decatur confirmed its interest in buying the Boys & Girls Club site in Oakhurst, it didn’t take long before people began speculating about whether the property could become a school.
Decatur’s in dire need of school space. Current City Schools of Decatur enrollment is 4,300 students. CSD consultants project it will be more than 6,000 by 2020. City Schools of Decatur is hammering out the specifics of a proposed bond referendum to pay for school construction.
Superintendent Phyllis Edwards didn’t endorse the idea of the site being used for a school, but she didn’t reject it either.
“I would not be at liberty to discuss if the School Board would be interested,” Edwards said via email. “These types of things are usually discussed in Executive Session. The amount of acreage is usually the driver in terms of the use of a property. It is hard to say if an existing building can be used because (the Department of Education) has many requirements for schools.”
Edwards said the Department of Education requires 6 acres for an elementary school,” but we have gotten waivers before.”
The Boys & Girls Club site is 5.44 acres, according to property records.
The city’s purchase could include a beloved dog park that a developer wants to turn into family housing. Oakhurst residents have pushed back hard against the idea and have succeeded in delaying the project. The Planning Commission in December tabled a request from the developer to subdivide the property. Commissioners were expected to consider it again at the April 14 meeting, but the developer, Weaver Capital, asked for a deferral until the May 12 meeting, which has since been rescheduled to May 5.
While the city maintains the dog park, it is owned by the Boys & Girls Club, which leases it to the city for $1 a year. Dog Park supporters are hoping it could become a public green space that would extend from Feld Avenue to 2nd Avenue.
Lee Goldsmith, a Decatur resident who has headed up efforts to save the dog park, said he isn’t against the idea of a school but doesn’t think site conditions would allow for it. He said 2 to 2.5 acres of the property can’t be developed because it resides in a flood plain.
Meanwhile, City Schools of Decatur is trying to ascertain what sites are available for schools. One option that CSD is considering would turn the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center into a K-5 school.
Could the Boys & Girls Club serve as the new Early Childhood Learning Center?
“You’re asking me hypotheticals at this point,” Edwards said. “Conjecture just gets people concerned. The Board is seeking appropriate sites and has serious decisions to make moving forward. These decisions will require and should have public input. I can’t comment any further.”