By David Pendered
The team redeveloping Turner Field announced Monday that it has proposed a long-term agreement to four groups designated to represent the surrounding neighborhood. The team also met, reportedly, with a group of more strident neighborhood advocates who have called for greater community involvement from the development team – a demand that has gained some level of support from some Atlanta City Council members.
The development team reportedly met Monday at Atlanta City Hall with neighborhood representatives and a separate group that has erected a tent city and staged a sit-in at Georgia State University resulting in the April 10 arrest of four GSU students and former state Rep. Douglas Dean. The neighborhoods now are said to have a certain time, less than two weeks, to respond to the development team’s proposals.
The meeting continued through the afternoon. Development team representatives were at the table, along with three members of the Atlanta City Council – Carla Smith, who represents the area; Michael Julian Bond, who serves citywide; and Felicia Moore, who represents a western district and has a long-term interest in community involvement. Georgia Stand-Up’s executive director, Deborah Scott, reportedly facilitated the meeting.
Georgia State University established its own agreement with the leaders of Organized Neighbors of Summerhill, Peoplestown Neighborhood Association, Mechanicsville Civic Association and Grant Park Neighborhood Association
The rest of the redevelopment team – Carter, Oakwood Development, and Healey Weatherholtz Properties – reached its own agreement with the same four organizations.
GSU vows to deliver the following programs, to the best of its capacity and legal abilities:
- “Educational engagement from kindergarten through high school as well as college preparation programs.
- “Enhancement of safety and security in the area.
- “Children-focused programs, including the university’s renowned After-School All-Stars program, that have been and will continue to be part of the fabric of the communities.
- “Adult-centered programs, including the highly regarded Project Healthy Grandparents and GSU62 program, which offers a tuition-free education for people over 62.
- “Service learning initiatives in which students will participate in projects targeting the needs of the communities.
- “Arts, cultural programing and access to athletic events.
- “Research projects focusing on environmental, public health and socio-economic issues.
- “A focus on entrepreneurship and economic development, and a commitment to inform residents about employment and business development opportunities.
- “A pledge to address transportation-related issues in the neighborhoods.”
GSU President Mark Becker sounded an optimistic note in his letter to the organizations:
- “We believe that all parties have evidenced strong cooperation as we have discussed ways that the University can partner with your respective neighborhoods to (1) honor the neighborhoods’ histories and athletic legacies and (2) be an integral part of the neighborhoods’ vibrant, thriving community.”
The letter concludes:
- “Georgia State University believes the redevelopment will be transformational for all parties involved, including the neighborhoods, the University, and the City of Atlanta. We embrace our relationship with Summerhill, Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, and Grant Park, and look forward to the future together at the Property.”
The agreement from Carter, Oakwood and Healey Weatherholtz states its intent to address six themes, each of which is described at length in the document. The themes are:
- Infrastructure and design;
- Commitment to economic development;
- Commitment to housing;
- Commitment to public safety;
- Southside future fund.
The agreement from the private developers begins:
- “The purpose of this Community Investment Plan (“CIP”) is to present proposed investments as negotiated between the Neighborhoods made up of Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown and Grant Park (“Neighborhoods”) represented by the elected representatives from each respective neighborhood (collectively, the “Neighborhood Representatives” and each a “Neighborhood Representative”) and Carter, Oakwood, and Healey Weatherholtz (“COHW” or “Developer”) to memorialize the shared commitment to making the community safer, stronger, healthier, and more stable. The Neighborhoods and COHW each share the common goal of providing inclusive, equitable, sustainable access to a high quality of life for all, including those who live here now and for generations to come.”
The agreement was announced a week after at least two members of the Atlanta City Council called on GSU to meet with critics who say they represent other factions of the Turner Field neighborhood. Members of these groups staged a sit in at Becker’s office and erected a tent city to draw attention to their protest.
Councilmember Felicia Moore said she has drafted legislation calling on GSU to meet with all groups. Moore said she held the paper at the request of Councilmember Carla Smith, who said she was working to resolve the issue. Councilmember Michael Julian Bond said he would sign Moore’s proposed legislation.