Civic Groups The playground at Atlanta Memorial Park during a flood situation that dumps fecal matter in the area.

Published on February 14th, 2016 |

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Memorial Park flooding, sewage pollution aired at BCN meeting

(Editor’s Note: Due to conflicting meeting schedules, BuckheadView was unable to be at the Feb. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. We thank BCN secretary Gordon Certain for providing us with his audio tape of the meeting so that we could report on it.)

Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood discussed three major issues with members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Feb. 11, but the one that caught most of the attention was the flooding and sewage pollution of Atlanta Memorial Park and other areas of the city.

The other two issues involved Atlanta Public Schools’ planned use of property the city just deeded to it (as part of the repayment of deferred BeltLine taxes) as a depot for possibly 200 school buses and other vehicles, and her legislation to stop the state from taking control of Atlanta public parks land through its powers of eminent domain.

But the problem of contamination of park lands and resident properties in south Buckhead drew the most attention among those attending the Thursday night BCN meeting.

Norwood says the city is in violation of the Clean Water Act after flooding on Peachtree Creek sent sewage flowing into the playground and other areas of Atlanta Memorial Park.

Norwood said the flooding is clearly a matter of “too much water coming into the system.” But she accused the city and Watershed Management of “getting clever” with language on how it defines sewer overflows so that it appears the city is not in violation of federal laws under the Clean Water Act.

Norwood told the audience the city changed the definitions in it is reports from “combined sewer overflows” to “combined sewer system discharges” because the city is only allowed to have four “overflows” at each of its four combined sewer overflow facilities. There were 46 sewer overflows in the city in 2015, she stated.

Norwood has introduced a resolution in City Council’s Utilities Committee that would give the Watershed Management Department 90 days to present a plan to fix the problem.

“What’s happening at Atlanta Memorial Park is outrageous,” Norwood said, and encouraged the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods to draft a letter to the city endorsing her resolution to force Watershed Management to come up with a solution.

As for the APS school bus depot issue, Norwood said a petition to block the building of the school bus storage and maintenance facility on the property along Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway has already been created. She said she and Councilwoman Felicia Moore are working to have the facility moved elsewhere.

Norwood said she met with APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen about building a bus barn on another piece of property. “Dr. Carstarphen is willing to move the bus barn,” Norwood reported, “but there has to be a suitable property that is more efficient about getting the buses into the neighborhoods.”

In discussing rumors that Mayor Kasim Reed may be encouraging the state to take over the Bobby Jones Golf Course property in south Buckhead using its powers of eminent domain, Norwood told the audience she has introduced legislation in City Council to stop the state from using eminent domain to take over any city parks property.

“We can’t stop it but we can evoke furor over it,” Norwood said. She recalled that when Reed was in the state senate that body presented a plan for Parks Districts where the state could take over parks it if wanted to. That action failed.

Norwood said the problem is that the mayor controls all the personnel, all contracts and all of the city’s services delivery.

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