Atlanta Mayoral Candidate Nolan English Answers Questions On The Environment

WABE sent questions about environmental issues to all of the mayoral candidates. The questions cover climate change and extreme heat, water resources, park maintenance, the tree ordinance and lead contamination in West Atlanta neighborhoods.

The questions are in bold, and Nolan English’s answers follow. He responded to two of the questions. Answers were edited for clarity.

Read answers from other candidates.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently expanded the area in English Avenue and Vine City where properties may need to have their soil completely removed and replaced, after finding dangerous levels of lead in people’s yards.

What role do you think the City of Atlanta should have in engaging with the community, and what is your plan to address this potential children’s health issue in West Atlanta neighborhoods?

As a former Environmental Compliance Officer with the U.S. Armed Forces, I believe it is the role and duty of the city to prioritize removing high levels of lead contamination in our neighborhoods. Lead is a problem anywhere, especially where children reside. This known problem should be of the highest priority. This is a far bigger issue than a city cleanup — this is life and death. The land which encompasses the neighborhoods of English Avenue and Vine City is not exempt from the entitlement of care from the city. Part of my platform is simply “No Bad Blocks.” No neighborhood deserves to have contamination where they live, work and play. We will ensure that those residing where contamination has been released have the protections that they deserve in an immediate fashion. We may have to relocate them while the remediation process happens. If the problem cannot be remedied within reason, the city will absorb that property with the fair market value going to the owner. The tenant of the property will have the right of first refusal should the owner decide to sell.

The city will also need to follow and track the health progression of each child, especially those with traces of lead found in their blood. The city is to take full responsibility and leadership role for this ordeal and remedy any injustice to those affected.

While Atlanta has some big, beautiful new parks opening now and coming soon, many city parks need maintenance. According to the Park Department’s long-term planning program, Atlantans said the number one thing discouraging them from using their parks was that they were not well maintained.

How would you ensure that parks — whether they’re new or old, big or small, regardless of the neighborhood — get adequate funding and maintenance? And how would you involve communities in decisions about their parks?

I would require each Parks Initiative and budget to be designated by that area’s NPU. The NPU would establish initiatives and the Parks and Recreation Department would oversee the parameters — with both collectively supplying the benchmarks to acquire more funding in areas where needed. Each NPU initiative would aim to expand rec center services and programs across the city of Atlanta as each park would be a direct reflection of its NPU. The city makes the investment of acquiring and expanding the parks but also improving the parks while maintaining them in terms of fixing the lights, getting the water fountains working, etc. This would be overseen by the NPU and executed by the Department of Public Works.

Read answers from other candidates.