Falcons Stadium Community Benefits Legislation Sparks Local Uproar
Atlanta residents who have "spent months participating in talks" with city officials over how to divide $30M for communities impacted by the Falcons' new $1.2B stadium were "stunned Wednesday to learn the plan they were working to formulate has already been submitted to the city council for approval," according to Katie Leslie of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. In what was "undeniably the most explosive meeting to date over the community benefits package, residents railed against city officials after learning Councilman Michael Julian Bond introduced legislation this week that could be voted on in early December." The community benefits package "must be affirmed by the council and approved by Mayor Kasim Reed" so that the city can issue $200M in bonds backed by hotel-motel taxes for stadium construction. City of Atlanta Deputy Chief of Staff Katrina Taylor Parks in responding to the outcry countered that committee members were "told in last week's meeting that the draft proposal would be taken to the council." She added that the legislation is "meant as a 'placeholder' only ... and was only submitted because the Atlanta City Council has just one more full council meeting this year." Taylor Parks "reminded the committee members and residents in the audience, who have spent months participating in talks over the funds, that their votes weren't needed to move the plan onto the council for consideration." She said, "If anyone else has read the legislation it's clear this body does not even have a vote. You can read. We have said this all along." The "contentious meeting resulted in two outcomes -- a special called community benefits meeting scheduled for this Monday, and a recommendation to the city committee now vetting the plan/agreement: Hold the paper" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/21).