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New Board Member the Latest Twist in Turner Field Saga

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There's a new piece on the board in the ongoing saga involving the fate of Turner Field. On Wednesday, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners appointed Geoffrey A. Heard to the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority Board. The county's board of commissioners, especially Chairman John Eaves, has been pressing for a bigger role in deciding Turner Field's future for months, to the chagrin of Mayor Kasim Reed, who has been taking a lead in seeking proposals. Reed points to the public input process — or rather, lack thereof — before other major, recent intown redevelopments such as Ponce City Market as a basis for why the city's moving forward the way it is.

Heard is a resident of Green Valley Acres in southwest Atlanta and serves as the director of the Summerhill Neighborhood Development Corporation, which provides charity and community development services for residents. On the Turner Field development, Heard said, "I want the process to be transparent, fair and to represent the wishes of the community," according to Neighborhood Newspapers.

Eaves has been a vocal proponent of community input on the Turner field project. In August, he proposed a resolution with specific recommendations on how the AFCRA, which is responsible for the Turner Field site, should solicit public input. The resolution called for the AFCRA to establish a timetable for soliciting public comment, establish a website for community discussion and sponsor workshops where residents and businesses can discuss the redevelopment. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a vote on the resolution was delayed due to misgivings on the part of other commissioners, but a new version passed in September. That resolution urged the AFCRA to take public comment and community input, use planning initiatives available within the Livable Centers Initiative planning process and have transparency and ongoing communication with citizens.

Mayor Reed, for his part, has made it clear that the Request for Proposals process will take many months to complete and that it will involve community input through the LCI study. At an Oct. 14 Atlanta City Council finance meeting, Reed said, "We also haven't gone to the lengths that we have gone around Turner Field around securing an LCI grant, in listening to a council member that represents the district who was the driver for the LCI grant and in making sure there is a process that has council input and making sure that the opinion of the LCI participants is included in the ultimate transaction."

Reed has taken some flak for opening up the RFP before the LCI study is complete. But, he has said that level of community input is unprecedented for large-scale city projects. "We didn't have community input prior to the RFP for Screen Gems, we didn't have community input prior to the transaction involving Underground Atlanta, we didn't have community input prior to Ponce City Market, which just opened four years ago, prior to the RFP process," Reed said. "When, during the entire time we've been here since January 2010 to present, have we gotten community input on an RFP for a major project in any neighborhood in Atlanta?"

· Highlights from Dramatic Meeting Over Turner Field's Plight [Curbed]
· The Redevelopment of Turner Field has Officially Begun[Curbed]
· Eaves reasserts county's stake in Turner Field [AJC]
· Fulton board postpones action on Turner Field resolution [AJC]
· Fulton County appoints new member to oversee Turner Field renovations [Neighborhood Newspapers]
· City, county still at impasse over Turner Field sale approval process[AJC]

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