Braves' Move: 'A Blessing In Disguise'
BY DAVID STOKES
Just when the dust had settled pertaining to the impending creation of a retractable roof stadium for the Atlanta Falcons and their regular season football games—which will ultimately cause the re-location of two African-American churches—frustration and even anger by some city and county officials have reared its nefarious and ugly head once more in light of the "surprising," "shocking" and "stunning" announcement, made last week, on Nov. 11, that the Atlanta Braves had sealed a preliminary agreement to move away from downtown Atlanta's Turner Field to suburban Cobb County, 13 miles north from the city's skyline and rehabilitated community of southeast commercial and residential properties.
In the middle of a questionable football season in which the hometeam team continues to test the loyalty and commitment of hard-core fans, Atlanta Braves fans and others are now witnessing the dynamics of a business proposition, in general, by suburbanites seeking to experience less expensive operations and benefits for the people while increasing their bottom-line. Nevertheless, notwithstanding ongoing questions of financing, public transportation and traffic issues surrounding the Interstate 285 and I-75 corridor at Windy Hill Road, in Cobb, which is nearer to where the Braves' stadium is set to be erected, respective city of Atlanta and Fulton Co. officials are crying foul in otherwise not knowing said announcement was imminent by Braves management last week, as well as the move ultimately impacting the city's economy and standing with the Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh communities near Turner Field. City council members and county leaders have moved into action, nonetheless, to maintain the Braves as a city limits occupant. It's a safe bet that Mayor Kasim Reed doesn't seek to be the chief executive who otherwise allowed "America's Team" to leave the "Olympic City." However, as Mayor Reed commented during a briefing to city council members last week, on the day after the announcement, on Nov. 12, Atlantans "will not be put at risk (with potentially higher taxes to appease Braves' needs)," according to a council member speaking to The Inquirer last week. "While the Braves are an integral part of the city's history," the council member lamented, "we can—and will—find a way to satisfy Braves' leaders without penalizing Atlanta taxpayers. We will exhaust every avenue to keep the pennant Braves (in Atlanta) without harming city taxpayers." Furthermore, as Mayor Reed stated after the announcement, "The Atlanta Braves is one of the best baseball teams in America, and I wish them well. We've been working very hard with the team for a long time, and there was simply no way the Braves were going to stay in downtown Atlanta without city taxpayers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make that happen. Given the needs facing our city and the impact surrounding neighborhoods near (Turner Field), the financial support by Cobb Co. of $450 million was something I and others were unwilling to match." Reed concluded, "We have already spoken to multiple organizations who are interested in re-developing the Turner Field corridor, and over the next three years, we will be working with our prospective partners to bring residential and business development that strengthens our downtown. These conversations will continue, and I'm excited how we will use the land that is Turner Field in being the tremendous asset for our residents, our city and our region for many years to come." Also, Fulton Co. Commission board Chairman John Eaves, PhD. pronounced his "deep disappointment" with the Braves' prospective move. "Atlanta and Fulton Co. has been 'America's Team's' home since 1966, and the Braves' overall contribution to the city and county deserves a second look by both the private and public sectors, as well as deserves the same energy and support that the Atlanta Falcons received when they looked to re-locate as well. We must work together and do everything fiscally possible to keep the Braves in Atlanta and Fulton Co." Additionally, the fallout of the Braves' impending move was surprising and "near catastrophic," according to city Councilwoman Carla Smith, when interviewed by another news media outlet. "It feels like a punch in the chest." As indicated by Councilman Michael Julian Bond, "The move is (a) shocking" development," he initially indicated last week to news media. Nevertheless, some officials state for people not to write off Turner Field just yet. With another three years remaining before the Braves' present lease expires, in 2017, time could be a motivating factor, no matter the present situation. "The city's option before us was doomed to fail (in coming up with millions to appease Braves management to stay)," exclaimed city Councilman Ivory Young, Jr. Mayor Reed's desire that city taxpayers not brunt the burden of million$ in taxes was definite when comparing to other needs of the city. "Atlanta taxpayers will not be put on the hook" for $250-plus million for the Braves' needs—no matter "how much the announcement of their move surprised us," Young proclaimed. "We all were definitely surprised ... but they haven't left Atlanta yet. Traffic, taxes and finances are issues (Cobb Co. leaders) still have to work out." In the end, Councilman Young predicts "another stadium negotiation is possibly on the way to satisfy" the Braves' desires "without penalizing" taxpayers. Young concluded, "we will exhaust every avenue to keep the pennant Braves in Atlanta without harming taxpayers. There's a lot of potential we've not maximized yet." After indicating he was "disappointed" in the Braves move, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell indicated his "biggest concern" was the impact of the southside Summerhill, Pittsburgh and Mechanicsville communities. "The proposed land use redevelopment plan were the benefits of the Braves being the community anchor toward continued economic development," Mitchell said. However, "the final out has not been called yet -- even though we are in the ninth inning." Mitchell also stated a Turner Field Task Force, created by himself and Councilwoman Smith, will now move forward to determine what type of development can be erected after 2017, should the Braves permanently vacate the site. City Council President Mitchell also hinted that nearby Georgia State University could be a "possible" Turner Field tenant with its growing football and baseball programs. Still, "the Braves moving could be a blessing in disguise," said southside community resident Douglas Dean, a former Ga. state representative of the affected Turner Field area communities, who remains a vocal activist for economic opportunity and advancement in southeast Atlanta. Not only did Dean summarize the Braves' announcement as "disrespectful" to city and county leaders, "it's a total let-down to the city. This city has been good to the Braves, and the area communities have been tolerant of the Braves." Dean stated not only should city and county officials been given the "courtesy" to be told of the move "face-to-face," but irreparable damage has been done—the "spirit of partnership has been broken" by Braves officials—for the Braves to stay at Turner Field beyond 2017. "I think there's nothing the city can do now to keep the Braves," former state Rep. Dean concluded. "The city's relationship with the Braves is over, but the (various) communities will survive whether they stay or go." He added, "we have a golden opportunity now to have our southside communities look like Buckhead by (enhancing) the diversity of the neighborhoods with Black and white and rich and poor—and we now need the downtown community to be cooperative with us." While public and private partnerships are necessary for Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh communities to ultimately reclaim its splendor, Dean lamented, the Braves may not move if some officials' plans are successful. "If the Braves decide to stay (at Turner Field), we need to fix the 'broken spirit.' However, if they leave for Cobb Co., we just move on. The Braves' moving can be a blessing—and it will be a mistake on the city's part if (it) doesn't act (to circumvent) the economic suffering of community residents, overall, and their potential involvement" of plans for re-development of the affected area. Dean also injected remembering, in 1993, the Braves threatening to vacate the old Atlanta-Fulton Co. stadium unless the city acquiesced to their demands. Notwithstanding temporary adverse impact on the communities, the Braves' moving "could be a blessing in disguise," Dean said several times to a reporter recently. Furthermore, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (Fifth District-Atlanta), stated, "To have the Atlanta Braves leave Atlanta is a blow to the city. It is my hope that the mayor, the city council and other parties will continue to negotiate to try to find a way to keep the Braves inside the city. Efforts should be made to reach out to ALL of the baseball fans throughout the metro Atlanta area." Lewis concluded, "It is my hope that movement will be made on this issue for the Braves to remain in the city of Atlanta." In conclusion by former state Rep. Dean, "the city has the perfect opportunity to now fulfill a mission to help the southside communities grow and be a vibrant part of Atlanta. Turner Field is a jewel of the city from the Olympics (of 1996). I hope the right thing will be done..., and the city not be held hostage to (appease) the Braves."
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Students Practice Gratitude During November
ATLANTA, Ga. — During the month of November Atlanta Heights Charter School (AHCS) students are focusing heavily on being thankful, helping others, and showing gratitude.
Each month Atlanta Heights students have a different virtue that is incorporated into classroom lessons, school assemblies, and community service projects. So it is only fitting that during November students focus on gratitude. Both showing gratitude toward others, as well as being an example of gratitude to the community around them.
AHCS focuses heavily on community service projects, which are mostly organized and lead by students.
“At AHCS we believe that gratitude is a virtue that must be practiced through service learning projects,” said Mamie Harper, AHCS social worker. “The student groups will learn about different social issues, select a volunteer method, set short-and long-term goals, and invite the rest of the school to participate in the volunteer activity.”
So far this school year students have raised money for breast cancer awareness, collected canned goods for the FalCan food drive, and cleaned up their surrounding community.
“Once the students complete the service projects they measure the outcomes and discuss what they learned,” Harper said. “This allows them to gain a great appreciation for their home, school, and community.”
Besides service learning projects, in November members of the female student groups will also honor local veterans. Students will adopt a veteran or active solider to be their pen pal for the remainder of the school year.
Students know that gratitude is something that can be shown throughout the year, November just happens to be a great time to show a little extra.
Atlanta Heights Charter School is a tuition-free, public charter school serving students in grades kindergarten through eighth. PHOTO COURTESY OF NHA SCHOOLS