BeltLine’s Bellwood Quarry to be propelled by city committee

By David Pendered

One of the more photogenic parks planned for the Atlanta BeltLine is also the largest, and plans for moving it forward may be starting to shape.

From humble beginnings in a planner's wish list, Bellwood Quarry has come to represent the vision of the transformative powers of Atlanta's BeltLine. Credit: TPL via Alex Garvin

From humble beginnings in a planner’s wish list, Bellwood Quarry has come to represent the vision of the transformative powers of Atlanta’s BeltLine. Credit: TPL via Alex Garvin

The old Bellwood Quarry is soon to be the sole subject of a redevelopment review committee to be formed by the Atlanta City Council, according to legislation led by Councilmember Michael Julian Bond. The council is slated to approve the proposal as part of the consent agenda on Oct. 20.

Of political note, Bond omitted council President Ceasar Mitchell, or his designee, from the committee. The council president often is represented on committees with purview over topics of citywide or regional interest, such as the BeltLine.

Bond and Mitchell appeared to have been at odds since at least mid 2013, when rifts between the two appeared to emerge concerning the community review of the proposed Falcons stadium project.

Both are presumed to be running for mayor in 2017.

Whether the rivalry is real or imagined, issues such as the Bellwood Quarry have come to be viewed in a particular light.

The legislation is sparce. It states:

  • “A Redevelopment Review Committee shall be established as an advisory group for the sole purpose of providing formal comments on the potential uses of the Bellwood
  • The Redevelopment Review Committee shall consist of fourteen (14) members, four (4) of which shall be appointed by the Mayor representing each of the following; (see below):
  • The Redevelopment Review Committee shall convene monthly, as needed, for a period not to exceed six (6) months.

Funds aren’t readily available for projects on the scale of the redevelopment of Bellwood Quarry. Then-Mayor Shirley Franklin cobbled together the money to buy the land from sources including the watershed and parks departments, with the notion that somewhere down the line money would become available to transform the dusty quarry into a regional cultural icon.

Bond waxed eloquent when he described the future Bellwood Quarry park at the Oct. 14 meeting of the council’s Community Development Committee meeting:

  • “Ever since I first traversed that park 12 years ago, and saw the potential from the ridge line, this park as fully developed would be the largest park in the southeast United States.
  • “You can see everything from below Summerhill to out beyond Tower Place.
  • “Imagine going there to hear Frankie Beverly and Maze, and the folks from Chastain are calling to thank, or Music Midtown, for that matter.”

Bond’s latter comments recognize the friction in Buckhead and some Piedmont Park neighborhoods regarding regional events that are hosted in facilities located in neighborhoods.

The membership of the proposed committee is tilted toward city officials.

Bond introduced an amendment regarding membership that was approved during the Community Development Committee. The membership that’s slated to be adopted at the Oct. 20 meeting of the Atlanta City Council includes:

  • Two representatives from the Department of Watershed Management;
  • One representative from the Department of Parks and Recreation;
  • The mayor or his designee;
  • Four members of the Atlanta City Council – Post 1 (Bond); Community Development chair (Andres Dickens); District 3 (Ivory Lee Young); District 9 (Felicia Moore)
  • One representative from Invest Atlanta or Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.;
  • One representative who resides in NPU J and council District 3;
  • One representative who resides in NPU J and council District 9;
  • One representative who resides in NPU G.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

6 replies
  1. Joe Seconder says:

    I soo badly want this… Also, the city needs to rezone the entire surrounding area for mixed use. Would love to look at living within a mile of this.Report

    Reply
  2. Joe Seconder says:

    I soo badly want this… Also, the city needs to rezone the entire surrounding area for mixed use. Would love to look at living within a mile of this.Report

    Reply
  3. Burroughston Broch says:

    “Funds aren’t readily available for projects on the scale of the redevelopment of Bellwood Quarry.”
    That is an understatement. It’s been 9 years since the City acquired the property and the City’s finances don’t seem promising to do anything with it. The City already has a $1+ billion backlog of decayed infrastructure that must be replaced, and can only scrape together funds for a bond issue to address 1/4 of it.
    For the record, the City has owned 10,130 acres in Dawson County since 1971 and 10,003 acres in Paulding County in 1975 and has never developed either site. The area of these two sites is not quite 24% of the total area of the City. Based on these sites, the City could leave Bellwood undeveloped for a long time.
    City Councillors can talk all they want but, until they have the funds, it’s all posturing and hot air.Report

    Reply
  4. Burroughston Broch says:

    “Funds aren’t readily available for projects on the scale of the redevelopment of Bellwood Quarry.”
    That is an understatement. It’s been 9 years since the City acquired the property and the City’s finances don’t seem promising to do anything with it. The City already has a $1+ billion backlog of decayed infrastructure that must be replaced, and can only scrape together funds for a bond issue to address 1/4 of it.
    For the record, the City has owned 10,130 acres in Dawson County since 1971 and 10,003 acres in Paulding County in 1975 and has never developed either site. The area of these two sites is not quite 24% of the total area of the City. Based on these sites, the City could leave Bellwood undeveloped for a long time.
    City Councillors can talk all they want but, until they have the funds, it’s all posturing and hot air.Report

    Reply
  5. jamalA says:

    I’m with you and have posted in our small G+ comm. about this along with more dedicated park space, the beltline, cycling infrastructure & the beltline e longer term streetcar. But last I checked the city waterworks park redevelopment which is to connect through water infrastructure, the neighborhood asso and even Atlantic Station weren’t all on the same page yet. It will happen I just hope it’s fast tracked through funding within our lifetime.Report

    Reply
  6. jamalA says:

    I’m with you and have posted in our small G+ comm. about this along with more dedicated park space, the beltline, cycling infrastructure & the beltline e longer term streetcar. But last I checked the city waterworks park redevelopment which is to connect through water infrastructure, the neighborhood asso and even Atlantic Station weren’t all on the same page yet. It will happen I just hope it’s fast tracked through funding within our lifetime.Report

    Reply

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