DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Decatur City Council on Monday approved the use of its $42 million settlement with 3M on a planned recreation park but the estimated price tag leaves them needing more funds to complete the project.
City officials earmarked $20 million of the $42 million from the 3M settlement figuring that would be more than enough for the planned Wilson Morgan Park Recreation Center. Not all city council members agree with asking for more money for the project.
An estimated total of $55 million for the park includes new basketball courts, racquetball courts, an indoor swimming pool, and pickleball courts. Mayor Tab Bowling and four council members support going to the bond market in New York for at least $30 million of that money.
However, Councilman Billy Jackson does not agree. Jackson says he’s been on the city council long enough to know that $30 million extra for this type of project is not needed and but better served where the need is greater. City Councilman Hunter Pepper disagrees with Jackson’s assessment.
“Mr. Jackson has been very adamant about speaking against the rec center going in district 4 because the rec center is supposed to be purposed,” Pepper explained. “He says it’s supposed to be purposed for his district or it’s supposed to be utilized in his district. I know that everybody says that rec centers are supposed to be utilized for more low-income areas, but rec centers are utilized throughout a vast majority of different individuals.”
An extra $17 million is slated to go towards baseball and softball fields adjacent to Austin High school which is around the corner from the park proposal.
Jackson, according to Pepper, says that a rec center in Pepper’s District 4 of this magnitude is unnecessary and that his District 1 needs a rec center that will cost less and be just as effective for the community.
“For District 4 not to have access to a rec center for them to be able to utilize in my opinion isn’t fair to specifically just to utilize it just for Mr. Jackson’s district,” said Pepper.