A group of neighbors interrupted Atlanta BeltLine Inc.’s quarterly meeting Tuesday night. The southwest Atlanta residents say they feel left out of the trail’s development.
What started out as a panel discussion about progress on the BeltLine ended in an impromptu face-to-face between the leadership of BeltLine Inc. and several residents who all live near the trail.
One of the residents’ issues is a southwest 20-acre site owned by the BeltLine called Murphy Crossing. Many see the development as a much-needed economic boost to the area.
Oakland City resident Kyle Lamont says the interruption and impromptu meeting was a way for residents to stop feeling ignored.
“We need to talk about very, very actionable things. Such as how do we stop displacement,” Lamont says.
He says engagement is crucial for Atlanta BeltLine Inc. to regain trust with residents.
Clyde Higgs is president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc.
“Sometimes these are difficult conversations to hear,” he said. “But we’re always willing to get input from the community. The BeltLine is a community project.”
BeltLine leadership has maintained its commitment to issues such as affordable housing, green space and public art.
Atlanta Beltline Inc. says it’s currently evaluating developers for Murphy Crossing. Requests for proposals from developers for the site closed earlier this year.
“The process is continuing with confidential evaluation and deliberation and will be updated when a selection is made,” reads a statement from the quarterly update.
That sentiment was reiterated during the quarterly and impromptu meeting.
But some see the confidential process as a lack of transparency and don’t want to wait until a developer is selected to be engaged.
In 2016, the BeltLine conducted a market assessment of Murphy Crossing. Community members now say that with southwest Atlanta rapidly changing as new residents move in, that assessment may be based on old data.
Neighborhood leaders say they have gathered nearly 300 responses from southwest neighbors on what they’d like to see in their neighborhoods. Lamont says a good next step is to have a meeting with BeltLine leadership to share the responses to the survey.
“We want this to be a great partnership,” Lamont says. “We want to figure out how we can make this a model for other neighborhoods and other developments going forward.”