By Maria Saporta
Two Atlanta City Councilmembers – Mary Norwood and Andre Dickens – plan to introduce a resolution at Monday’s City Council meeting to green light the sale of the vacant George Adair Elementary School.
In a brief telephone interview Wednesday evening, Norwood said she was introducing the resolution on behalf of the Adair Park community and the neighboring residential areas.
Norwood insisted that the resolution was not part of a statement about the larger dispute between the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Public Schools over how much money is owed in back-payments that are part of the BeltLine Tax Allocation District funding.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said he will not release the deed for the Adair School to APS, which would allow the school system to sell the property to a developer – Stan Sugarman – who wants to stabilize and renovate the school into residences.
Sugarman’s plans have been warmly received by the various neighborhoods near the historic school, which has been vacant since 1973.
Norwood said she and Dickens are introducing the resolution because it is consistent with the city’s long-standing policies to fight abandoned properties and blight. Both Norwood and Dickens have been elected citywide.
The George Adair School has an even greater significance. It is less than two blocks away from the southwestern leg of the Atlanta BeltLine, which is expected to open within the next two years.
If the sale of the school is allowed to proceed, it is possible that the renovation could be completed around the same time as the grand opening of the Southwest leg of the BeltLine.
Those two developments would represent the biggest investments that would have been made in the transitional Adair Park community for decades.
In doing her research as she and other councilmembers prepared the draft resolution, Norwood found out that City Council has authorized the mayor to transfer the title of school property multiple times over the years – dating back to August, 1985.
If City Council passes the resolution on Monday, then it would be sent to the mayor for him to execute a quitclaim deed for transfer of the title to the Atlanta Board of Education.
If the mayor were to veto the resolution, it would take 10 City Councilmembers to vote to over-ride his veto.
Meanwhile, Reed met with members of the Atlanta City Council in an executive session Wednesday to discuss the situation between the city and APS. There has been no sign that Reed is reconsidering releasing the deed for the Adair School so it could be sold and renovated.
The Neighborhood Collaborative Group, a coalition of concerned Atlanta Public Schools parents, is planning a protest rally and march on Monday at 11:30 to 1 p.m. to urge the city to release the property deed.
Protesters will meet at APS at 130 Trinity Ave. SW. There will be a noon rally to call on City of Atlanta elected officials to partner with the schools. At 12:45, there will be a march from APS to the entrance of the historic Atlanta City Hall, which is about two blocks away.