FOR IMMEDIATE MEDIA RELEASE
DECEMBER 9, 2008
PRESERVATIONISTS SEEK SOLUTIONS
Atlanta is not long known for preserving buildings or sites of historic value, and when Mayor Shirley Franklin fired the Executive Director of the Urban Design Commission (UDC), concerned citizens from all over moved to action.
At their organizing meeting on December 6th, the assembly (tentatively known as The Atlanta Preservation Group) debated issues such as how the UDC could function without their former leader whose expertise and experience was known country-wide. Would and could the UDC continue its functionality of honoring and safeguarding historic and landmark buildings and sites; and conservation, historic, and landmark districts? Sure, the City is in financial straits they all agreed, but how could this important safeguard of our history and sense of place be dropped without notice or clarification? Could City communications with citizens get any worse than it already seems to be concerning important matters that impact the very fabric of our neighborhoods and communities? People at the gathering were visibly concerned about the fate of the future of Atlantas past.
Unlike Neighborhood Nazis (NIMBY, MYOTHW)* who exist everywhere, these Community Advocates are motivated to help make Atlanta a full-timeframe environment: respecting the past while embracing the future that responsible development affords. Without these kinds of folks we would not have today the eleven (11) designated and protected Landmark District Neighbors (e.g., Cabbagetown, Martin Luther King, Druid Hills) ; nor would we have The Fox Theatre, The Academy of Medicine, The Castle; The Biltmore, Georgian Terrace, and Imperial Hotels; The Peters House, Randolph House, and Rhodes Memorial Hall (just to mention a few) all of which were threatened to be torn down so business and commercial developers could further their own interests by debasing our past without knowledge or a care in the world about where we were way back when. What would Atlanta be like today if we still had Union Station, Richs, and The Peachtree Arcade? To preservationists, what happened there is just stupid. Look at cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and others that have respected their history and continue to thrive with the support of tourists and people who want to live along with the fine and wondrous architecture and venues established by thoughtful, significant construction of years past. Atlanta is a major attraction for world tourists who come to see the sights of The Biggest & Bestest Peach and our significant historical sites. Historic preservation promotes tourism and tourism generates $dollars$ for Atlanta.
Members of the group presented their concerns to the Atlanta City Councils Community Development/Human Resources Committee on Tuesday afternoon and stated they recognized Atlanta has severe financial problems requiring immediate action and expressed willingness to cooperate with the City in any way possible. They were seeking, but not expecting instantaneous answers to some critical questions, such as How can the City meet its responsibilities under Section 106 of the Federal Preservation Act of 1966 that directs how federal money can be used for historic preservation? How can citizens of Atlanta know when and how historic buildings and sites can be identified and protected? How can the City meet commitments required by the Atlanta Zoning Ordinance to guide development activities that threaten our heritage?
The group plans to organize strong resistance to what they perceive as the Citys abrogation of historic preservation and they have the horsepower and capabilities to do just that. Some of the organizations that have expressed interest or already signed on to helping the group include the Atlanta Preservation Center, Community Resource Network, Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA), Payne Warren, South East Atlanta Business Association (SEABA), Druid Hills Civic Association, and others.
*Not In My Back Yard, My Way Or The HighWay
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PAYNE WARREN INC.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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