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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Let's have community discussion about park

A second developer's proposal to relocate Wilson Morgan Park deserves more than instant rejection.

First, of course, city leaders must decide if the offer to build a retail complex at the site on Beltline Road is a good financial deal.

If it is, then comes the challenge of selling the concept to former City Commissioner Wilson Morgan's family and to the residents who live near the park.

Then, city officials will have to decide if relocating the park farther out the Beltline is, or is not, in the best interests of the majority of the city's residents.

The offer to the city appears much more lucrative than an earlier one that involved putting a Target store there.

Financially, it's a much better deal and aesthetically it is far superior.

The city would get two parks, one a 76-acre sports park that more than doubles the recreation facilities that are at Wilson Morgan, and the other a 10-acre traditional park in exchange for the 35 acres in the existing site.

The new park would have 12 state-of-the-art tournament softball fields, 12 tennis courts and fields for soccer and football.

Morgan Commons would not be just another shopping center surrounded by pavement. It would keep and expand the popular Adventure Park and the walking trails that so many people use and make the lake there more accessible.

Shopping districts pass through phases. Older Americans witnessed the decline of downtown business districts because strip shopping centers lured business to the edge of town. Shopping centers gave way to malls and now malls are giving way to developments such as the upscale Summit in Birmingham, which Morgan Commons would resemble.

Initially, the latest proposal is more impressive because it retains and improves some of the features that people would miss most at the current site. And it addresses the potential traffic problems associated with such a commercial district.

In addition, the deal would give Decatur park facilities that would be the envy of the state.

Let's talk this thing out and begin with agreement that, if the park moves, the name Wilson Morgan would move along with it.

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