Peoplestown Homeowners Get Meetings with Mayor Reed after Holding Sit-In
(APN) ATLANTA — Residents fighting to save their homes in Peoplestown held a sit-in at City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office on November 04, 2015. As a result of their action, they have a series of back-to-back meetings scheduled with Mayor Reed for December 01, 2015.
As Atlanta Progressive News previously has reported, Tanya Washington, and Robert and Bertha Darden are determined not to be forced out of their homes to make way for a water detention pond conceived by the City as a solution to flooding in the area.
They are neighbors of 93-year-old community leader Mattie Jackson, whom the mayor promised would not be removed from her home on the same block, after weeks of protesting and other actions.
Many other neighbors have already accepted settlements and moved out. Some homes have already been demolished.
“We are not holdouts; the City is the holdout, holding out on doing the right thing, the same right thing that the Mayor decided he could do for Ms. Mattie Jackson. Ms. Mattie Jackson deserves to stay in her home and so do the rest of us,” Washington said during a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
Washington says her house has never flooded in 91 years, and that the concession made to Jackson shows that the Watershed Department’s plan for the pond is flexible.
In fact, according to an email Washington received from Atlanta City Council member Carla Smith (District 1), the department considered twenty-three alternative plans, none of which were adopted.
Washington is concerned the process has not been transparent, as those potential plans were never revealed during public meetings.
Washington and the Dardens have not heard from the mayor since he saved Jackson’s home. At that time, the other residents were denied a meeting because they demanded to meet together, not individually.
Washington again requested a meeting on October 26, 2015. She says she followed up with phone calls and drop-ins to the office.
When Washington and the Dardens led thirty supporters to Reed’s office for the sit-in, they again demanded to schedule one meeting for all the residents.
Katrina Taylor-Parks, Reed’s deputy chief of staff, initially told the homeowners that privacy rules disallowed the mayor from meeting with more than one party at a time.
“We are doing our job to make sure your business is not public and not compromised,” she said.
“The privacy interests of which you speak are mine to waive, or Mr. Darden’s to waive,” Washington countered.
Parks-Taylor then claimed that the group didn’t have the solidarity it appeared to.
“People get together in a group and, for lack of a better term, they may be intimidated by the group. One on one they are telling us different things,” she said.
After three hours, they came to an agreement.
On December 01, 2015, the homeowners will have separate meetings back to back. They can confer with each other between the meetings, and if they send an email with a list of everyone they wish to have present in their meeting, their request might be granted.
“We’re not afraid to discuss personal matters as a group. The City does not want that type of meeting because they are not interested in saving the homes,” Mr. Darden told Atlanta Progressive News.
“On December first, we’re not going in there to talk numbers,” he told Washington, meaning that he and his wife are not willing to settle for any amount.
“Divide and conquer strategies only work if we can be convinced to take different positions. But we’re going in with a shared agenda,” Washington said.