UPDATE: Decatur interested in buying Boys & Girls Club in Oakhurst
This story has been updated.
Decaturish has learned that the city of Decatur is making inquiries about buying the Boys & Girls Club in Oakhurst.
Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne said that the city has been been in talks with the Club’s owners about the possibility.
“We’ve always been interested in trying to acquire the site,” she said.
That purchase would 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.
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.
Menne said if the city is successful in purchasing the Boys & Girls Club, the existing building would be used for “some type of recreational facility.”
Would it still serve as a Boys & Girls Club?
“I don’t know. At this point, that’s what we’re negotiating,” Menne said. “We are in conversations, is probably more accurate way of putting it.”
Lee Goldsmith, a Decatur resident who has headed up efforts to save the dog park, said the idea of the city buying the entire site is one he and other supporters would welcome. He said they’re already calling it “Oakhurst Central Park,” a public green space that would extend from Feld Avenue to 2nd Avenue.
“Everyone loves the idea of the city purchasing the land and making a big continuous park and saving our forests and dog park,” he said.
Ken Collins, Chief Financial Officer of the Boys & Girls Club, said the Club has been “open to exploring these conversations (with the city), while also honoring the current purchase agreement we have with Weaver Capital.”
“Weaver Capital is following the process to get approval for the subdivision of this land, but as of the last planning commission meeting, it is still not clear how this will manifest,” Collins said. “Most importantly, our overall objective is to continue providing quality services to the kids and teens of Oakhurst at our current facility. We serve hundreds of kids there every day – kids who need our support – and help them to succeed in school, live healthier and become leaders.
“Based on a current assessment of where the families we serve or should be serving reside, we’ve concluded that operating our programs at of our current facility still makes the most sense.”