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It's easy to get excited looking at the two concepts designed for Lake Decatur in and around Nelson Park.

It's also easy to come up with a lot of questions.

That's the key to this lakefront development project. Getting people excited about the potential for the area while, at the same time, answering enough questions to keep narrowing the project. In addition, the designers will soon have to balance what would be nice with what's possible.

The two concepts, arboretum village and adventure village, are available for viewing at www.decaturslakefront.com.

Both designs include a water park, a 36-hole miniature golf course and residential facilities. The difference between the two is that the arboretum concept appears more passive, with the emphasis on an arboretum and gardens. In the arboretum village, the residential space is more prominent.

The adventure village is built more on an active lifestyle, with a proposed indoor and outdoor rock climbing facility, mountain bike and jogging trials and a white water rafting course. There is a residential element to the adventure village concept, but it's not as prominent.

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Which concept would be best for Decatur?

It's hard to determine at this point, since the design firm in charge of the project is still accepting ideas and comments from residents. AECOM designers plan to keep receiving input and honing the design until they achieve a final concept early in July. After that, the company will turn that concept into a final, realistic plan for Decatur.

Even though it's still early in the process, it's almost certain that some sort of residential facility will be a part of the final design. In large part, it's necessary to help pay for the other amenities that all residents will have the opportunity to enjoy. Although a number of people are opposed to any residential development in the area, the economics might not work without that source of income.

It's important that residents keep in mind what is good for the community at large. In any project of this magnitude, there are bound to be some features that may not please folks. As much as possible, residents need to grasp the "big picture."

The idea is to design a project that will serve area residents and help the community grow far into the future. If that plan is delivered, residents should be willing to give it serious consideration.

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