Turner Field Neighbors Call For Community Benefits Agreement
The Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority (AFCRA) is in the process of selling Turner Field and surrounding acres to Georgia State University and the development firm Carter.
It is not clear how GSU and Carter plan to redevelop the space; and residents are wary, given the City’s history of razing the area’s homes and businesses to make way for sporting venues and expansive parking lots.
“Empty parking lots and empty promises,” John Colabelli, a ten-year resident of Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood, described that legacy at a press conference outside the stadium on February 18, 2016.
“This is the chance to make things right and bring the neighborhoods back together,” he said.
The coalition introduced a “Platform for Progress” that outlines what they want from a CBA.
It is the result of an extensive survey process that engaged over one thousand community members.
The platform includes affordable housing, displacement prevention, job training and opportunities, and neighborhood amenities like a grocery store and retail outlets, among other things.
It also includes the stipulation that the developer must report to and negotiate with an oversight committee that would track the progress of the goals outlined in the CBA.
Alison Johnson, whose family has lived in Atlanta’s Peoplestown neighborhood for some eighty years, expressed a fear of displacement.
“This is a community my family helped to build. I do not want to leave our community,” she said.
“We need the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority to do their part… with a binding agreement included in the sale contract,” she added.
Jason Dozier, who lives in Atlanta’s Mechanicsville neighborhood, described a future in which a park occupies the space where Turner Field sits today, in which there is a statute of baseball legend Hank Aaron.
That’s just one possibility residents have floated.
The coalition is involved in a planning process, afforded by a Livable Centers Initiative grant, that will eventually result in concrete development proposals, such as the park idea.
“Right now, this is a taste of what we want. This is our vision,” Dozier told Atlanta Progressive News.
It will take a binding Community Benefits Agreement to ensure that Carter and GSU collaborate with the Coalition to make that vision a reality.