Peoplestown Residents Plea to Atlanta Council for Help
(APN) ATLANTA — “This is my home,” Tanya Washington, Peoplestown-Summerhill resident, told the Atlanta City Council during the public comment portion of the Monday, September 21, 2015 Full Council Meeting.
Washington, along with 27 other residents, are the target of plans by the City of Atlanta to demolish their homes and replace them with a series of “Japanese garden” themed retention ponds.
Washington delivered a petition with some five thousand signatures to the City Council and implored them to look at alternate plans to deal with flooding issues some residents have experienced.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, several residents, including Washington and community icon Mattie Jackson, have spoken out against the plan by the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management.
Residents were able to gain a sympathetic ear from Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large). However, so far, no one is intervening to stop the project.
“I’ve been concerned about the conversations I’ve heard today around homes in Summerhill,” Bond said during the meeting.
“A person who is a senior… when that person is removed from their home prematurely, their life expectancy is cut in half,” Bond said, Mattie Jackson, who is 93.
Residents and the Department of Watershed Management continue to argue over whether or not other solutions are feasible to resolve the flooding issues that some members of the community experience.
The community found out that one of the rejected plans included building a similar retention pond on parking lots the city already owns near Turner Field.
“We’re not hiding anything with the project that was found not to be feasible,” Lillian Govus, Director of Communications for the Department of Watershed Management, told Atlanta Progressive News.
As previously reported by APN, APN made an open records request to Govus for any and all documents supporting her assertion that the alternative plan was not feasible; however, Susan Ross, who responded to the request, revealed that Govus did not rely on any documents in making the assertion.
Earlier this month, residents and their supporters spoke against the Department of Watershed Management’s petition to demolish homes during the September 9, 2015 Urban Design Commission meeting.
The report issued by the staff that oversees the all volunteer Urban Design Commission states that it “finds the proposed demolitions are warranted,” and urged the Commission to simply “deliver its comments to the [Department of Watershed Management].”
The Department of Watershed Management plans to demolish eight homes they currently own next week.
The Department will continue to negotiate the purchase of the remaining homes; however, Govus made it clear that the City will resort to legal action against the residents if need be.
“We could start legal proceedings next week,” Govus said.
Residents of Peoplestown-Summerhill plan on continuing to fight, and have repeatedly expressed they would like to see alternate upstream and downstream solutions considered, as runoff from the Turner Field parking lots and the nearby interstate have contributed greatly to the flooding problems in the community.
“Just because they have already taken 20 out of 28 homes doesn’t make it right,” Washington said.
Councilman Bond requested that APN send a copy of the alternative plan, and related Open Records Act request, to his office. APN provided the documents today by email, September 25, 2015.