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Monday, August 26, 2013

Reed, English Avenue pastor spar over community benefits package for neighborhoods near new Falcons stadium

Rev. Anthony Motley
City Hall officials last week met with leaders from Vine City and English Avenue to discuss possible ways to spend $30 million that's intended to help the communities adjacent to the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

A number of possible ideas emerged from the nearly two-hour meeting. While most of the discussions were relatively productive, WABE reports that Mayor Kasim Reed quarreled with Lindsay Street Baptist Church Rev. Anthony Motley over the proposed community benefits package.

In particular, Atlanta's NPR affiliate says the dispute came over whether the $30 million would end up being a legally-binding agreement or non-binding plan - an important distinction that could determine how much control certain local organizations have during the process. The conversation quickly devolved into the following exchange (it's worth a listen here):

"What is so frightening about the word 'agreement'?" asked Rev. Anthony Motley of the Lindsay Street Baptist Church, located in the English Avenue neighborhood. "We want an agreement, Mr. Mayor...We don't want a plan."

A heated exchange between Reed and Motley ensued.

"You don't have to tell me who votes. I know who votes. That's why I'm sitting in this chair and you're not," said Reed.

"You make cheap personal shots at people and that's not becoming of a mayor," said Motley.

They went back and forth derisively, neither relenting until the chair of the committee, Councilman Michael Julian Bond, was forced to step in and calm them down.

Reed later said that he hopes an agreement will eventually be implemented based on the community meetings that are taking place, including last week's discussion.

It remains to be seen whether City Hall will follow through on those promises. But as Motley told CL last August for our cover story on the stadium's potential effect, he hopes that'll happen in the right way.

"I think it's inevitable that these two communities will be transformed, because it's an embarrassment to the city," he said in 2012. "If you don't change it, it's going to continue to happen. You're going to have this kind of idleness."

The committee is set to meet again on September 4.

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