A look ahead at Decatur Legacy Park and other local green space
THESE DAYS, EXERCISE and fresh air are needed more than ever for our health and wellness. Decatur has many greenspaces to explore while getting in a good workout, from public parks to beautiful hiking and nature trails. Here are a few future and current favorites:
500 S Columbia Drive
Spring is a time for renewal, growth and expansion, which is what Legacy Park is experiencing. Formerly the United Methodist Children’s Home, the new park is expected to offer affordable housing, community gathering spaces, recreation, natural conservation, the arts and more. Decatur’s City Commission unanimously approved an agreement with Legacy Decatur to manage ongoing operations at the park; this includes implementation of the property’s long-term master plan.
Within the next three years, the park’s creators intend to bring to life a plan that connects the property’s past with the future. Lyn Menne was appointed Executive Director to helm the project. The process includes four phases: Investigate, Illuminate, Ideate and Innovate. The preferred concept includes green space,an updated pool, cross country running and nature trails, two inclusive playgrounds, 28 housing units and refurbished existing fields.
“The Legacy Decatur organization was honored to be chosen as the non-profit partner to manage operations at Decatur’s Legacy Park,” said Menne. “Our board is working on shortterm and long-term projects to implement the community’s vision for the beautiful 77 acre site. In addition to identifying non-profit tenants for the existing buildings, we are working on the installation of a wayfinding sign system, adding picnic tables and waste receptacles and working on a stabilization plan for the old barn.”
Menne shared ways to get involved now with the project. “We have several volunteer opportunities for anyone looking to get outside and help with some landscaping improvements,” she said. In addition to volunteering, Menne suggested dropping by the park to enjoy the trails and warmer weather.
Presently, the 77-acre property has one of the best cross country running and nature trails in the area. Open to the public, these defined routes wind through Legacy Park and offer excellent bird-watching. You’re likely to spot an owl or hawk while on a walk or run.
Jack Amick, Decatur resident and paent, helped develop the cross country trails of Legacy Park. “As a child, I felt that it was important to be able to run through the woods, I always enjoyed that. And one of the things I loved about cross country is running on trails where you have to think and you have to make decisions about when you have to pass, when you’re not going to pass, when you need to accelerate…” says Amick in a video posted on Legacy Decatur’s Facebook page in November 2020.
Amick consulted with the city about the best routes for various parts of this course and received help from a number of cross country athletes and their parents. “We expanded the width of the trails so they were safe to be run. And then more recently, the city brought in folks to do some maintenance and do some grading in a few places that were just too big for me to handle.”
This four-acre park neighbors the historic Mary Gay House, Swanton House and log cabin where Decatur’s Annual Heritage Festival takes place. Adair Park boasts picnic tables, a playground and a fenced dog park.
Glenn Creek Nature Preserve
104 Fairview Street
Minutes from downtown Decatur is the two-acre bio reserve of native Piedmont Habitat, Glenn Creek Nature Preserve. Formerly Hunter’s Branch, the Glenn Creek runs through the property and is part of the South Fork Peachtree sub-watershed. Full of towering trees and well-marked paths, this nature preserve allows for peaceful walks and provides visitors a much-needed dose of Mother Nature’s beauty.
534 McKoy Street
Visit McKoy Park for some family-friendly fun. Home of Decatur High School’s varsity baseball team and Decatur Active Living’s adult softball programs, this nine-acre recreational facility is appointed with a fenced 330-foot baseball field, a picnic pavilion with restrooms, a grilling area, a concession/scoring building, a playground, exercise equipment, a skate park and a green space for games.
Gladys Morgan Waddell Park
250-122 Champlain Street
This park has a lovely, quiet nature trail. Ideal for birds-watchers and nature enthusiasts, this scenic green trail is perfect for leisurely walks with the family.
Oakhurst Dog Park
414 East Lake Drive
Revered as the nicest dog park in town. You’ll find a large, fenced, off-leash dog park that is clean and provides a range of terrain for dogs to run around on. They also have water fountains and dog bowls as well as plenty of seating for visitors.
Find more information about Legacy Park at legacydecatur.com.