A mid-October meeting of Atlanta's finance committee drummed up some dramatic public comments and rigorous questioning about the current and future status of Turner Field. A video of the meeting was recently posted (just in time for Oscar season!) on the city's website. It's a four and 1/2 hour process serial with enough depth to rival The Wire, but, if you're not feeling up for a commitment, check out a few high points after the jump.
Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority Director Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke to finance committee members in an effort to clarify some points on the Turner Field redevelopment, and some pretty interesting highlights ensued. Plus, Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Peoplestown (SMP) community members had an opportunity afterward to voice their own concerns.
From Kasim Reed:
"In 30 years there has been no investment besides minor investments in the Turner Field corridor… what else has been put up? Nothing. A KFC closed in this community. And so all we're trying to do is bring to bear a transaction that, I think, at a minimum will be a quarter of a billion dollar transaction. It's going to elevate the property values and amenities of everyone who lives around Turner Field, and it's definitely better than what's at Turner Field right now. "
"To be subject to a series of questions about the RFP process and who had input in the RFP process is unprecedented at least since I've been in office… But, we've done half a dozen to 10 transactions and no community came in at the RFP."
From Jane Ridley:
"I don't know what to say about the RFP because in 1996 when the stadium needed to be built they gutted Mechanicsville for the parking lots... Now 15, 20 years later I'm being told only Summerhill, where the stadium sits, is what's going to be developed and anything west, south whatever of the interstate isn't in the NPU."
"I hope and pray that the council will take into consideration that when the stadium authority needed us or the rec authority needed us we were there. Now we're being cast out as dirty water."
From Keisha Lance Bottoms:
"There were parcels that were left out. One was the old FanPlex building and the other is what's known as the media lot and the other parcels are on the other side of the interstate where you see the big fair."
"Because Fulton County and Georgia State use the current parking lots ... there was a concern that if we issued the RFP all at once Fulton County would not have parking for employees and for jurors. And so while those portions are not a part of this RFP there is nothing to stop us from issuing another RFP with regard to those parcels."
"I'm sorry to hear that the community feels that there was no regard for the community because that was not our intention."
From Suzanne Mitchell:
"I think that some of the best practices that have already been set, like what occurred around the Civic Center where there was community input before the RFP is an ideal way of doing it. I think in an effort to quickly get the RFP out, unfortunately, there was one community meeting that really was not a robust discussion from the community. It was really more informing the community that an RFP was coming down. There was very little community input. It was very controlled. There was very little give and take.
"The idea Peoplestown was not included in the RFP was incredibly disturbing, and the fact that they weren't included and there was no explanation to the community about what the intentions were is also disturbing. I think that if there is going to be a separate process for any parcels those need to be disclosed and there needs to be a plan and a timeline very clearly stated so we know what is going on."
"We have one opportunity to get this right. And there has been a precedent that has been set every time there has been a change at Turner Field. The city council and the Fulton County Commission have voted on those changes and the last time… the city council held it up to make sure there was community input."