Decatur Gets $11 Million To Purchase Land -- And Conserve It | WABE 90.1 FM

Decatur Gets $11 Million To Purchase Land -- And Conserve It

Jul 13, 2017

The city of Decatur is getting an $11 million loan to help it buy the United Methodist Children's Home property. 

And it's getting really good terms on the loan. 

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The city's Public Facilities Authority was awarded this loan by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, provided by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

The city is buying around 77 acres, in total. The $11 million pays for 22 acres of that. The authority usually offers 2.7 percent in interest, but the city of Decatur will pay only 1.7 percent on the 30-year loan. 

The catch? The 22 acres Decatur is buying can't be developed. 

"You're gonna have some walking trails through it, as long as they're kinda low-impact walking trails. It won't have playgrounds or swing sets, or houses. It will remain in its natural, undeveloped state," says Peggy Merriss, Decatur's city manager.

"The city is getting a very good interest rate. They're already getting it below market rate, even when they weren't getting the additional reduction, so we're taking it another 1 percent lower," says Shane Hix, with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Hix explains that normally the Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides money to communities that want to tackle wastewater management or water pollution projects, but this project for Decatur was different. This loan specifically focuses on the conservation of the land. 

"There was 22 acres that made sense to put under conservation easement. The development of that property is limited forever. So, it can really only be used now for passive recreation use," Hix says. 

That means there will be walking trails on the property, but none that are paved. 

The city hopes to close on all 77 acres by Monday.