Image Courtesy of Sherise Brown
The Atlanta City Council approved, in a vote of nine to three, an ordinance by Councilman Michael Julian Bond to create a Trust Fund to benefit the communities surrounding the former Turner Field, including Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, and a portion of Grant Park. The approved legislation is considered the first legislative victory for the students and activists of the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition and the Housing Justice League, which have been petitioning the City and Georgia State University to create an equitable Community Benefits Agreement been the University and the surrounding neighborhoods. Residents have been camped on the property and have erected a tent city — officially since April 1, but coalescing collective efforts long before — demanding that the Community Benefits Agreement proposal be acknowledged and addressed.
The ordinance — not the full the Community Benefits Agreement for which activists have been petitioning, to be sure, but considered a good faith gesture — would allocate money from the sale of city-owned properties around Turner Field to surrounding neighborhoods to be used solely to fund economic and community development initiatives such as the construction and preservation of affordable housing and job training.
For any sale or lease proceeds up to 500,000 dollars, one hundred percent will go into the Trust Fund; for proceeds between $500,000.01 and one million dollars the amount will be “a reasonable amount no less than 50 percent”; and for proceeds above $1 million, the amount will be “a reasonable amount no less than 33 percent.”
Georgia State University and partnering developers bought Turner Field in 2016 with the intention of turning it into the Georgia State Stadium after the Braves built a new stadium in Cobb County and moved to the suburbs.
Voting in favor were Councilmembers Carla Smith (District 1), Kwanza Hall (District 2), Ivory Lee Young (District 3), Cleta Winslow (District 4), Alex Wan (District 6), CT Martin (District 10), Joyce Sheperd (District 12), Bond and Andre Dickens (Post 3-at-large).
Voting nay were Howard Shook (District 7), Yolanda Adrean (District 8), and Felicia Moore (District 9).
Keisha Lance Bottoms (District 11) abstained due to her former position as Executive Director of the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority. Natalyn Archibong (District 5) and Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large) were both absent.
The Trust Fund ordinance now proceeds to Mayor Kasim Reed for action.
On the initiative, Councilman Bond said, “We want to keep it community-focused, community-driven, and community-initiated. We want to continue to help facilitate what the community’s vision is for their own destiny.”