On Oct. 15, city workers will start switching out the diminutive 18-gallon bins with rolling, blue 96-gallon "carts." Total cost to the city: $2.3 million, which the mayor claims will be made up in cost savings.
Crews will first begin switching out containers in southwest Atlanta before moving to Virginia-Highland, Morningside, Poncey-Highland and other communities in the northeast part of the city three weeks later. Grant Park residents and other southeast Atlanta neighborhoods should expect their carts to arrive shortly after Thanksgiving. Northwest Atlantans will receive their bins after Christmas and into the new year. Around one-third of Atlanta homeowners already have the large carts.
In a City Hall press conference this morning to kick off the effort and accompanying PR campaign, the mayor stressed the importance of recycling, which he says is part of his plan to make Atlanta a top ten sustainable city. In addition, says the mayor, recycling makes financial sense.
The official dedication for the new trail will be held on Monday, October 15 at 10 a.m. It will also be featured as part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibit, which starts on the evening of September 8 with the Krewe of the Grateful Glutton’s Lantern Parade and ends on November 11. In addition, the trail will be part of the route for Atlanta Streets Alive on October 7.
During the month of September and beyond, crews will still be working on sections of the trail, including concrete, hand rails, retaining walls and slope containment. Art for the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibit will also be installed in September. Landscaping will get started in mid-fall with the planting of new trees; there will be volunteer opportunities to work with Trees Atlanta to plant these new trees, which will be part of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum. Landscaping will continue into the spring with the planting of native species of flora.
You might have noticed people riding bikes and jogging along the trail. But Beltline officials are reminding folks that the trail is still an active construction site and the trail is not yet finished:
There are still sections of concrete that need to be poured or fixed, and some intersection improvements (specifically 10th and Monroe and Lake and Irwin) are still works in progress. While construction is active, anyone who uses the trail does so at their own risk.
"Georgia Power is using our money to pay for something we don't need, we don't want and is killing us," said Margie Resse as she handed out flyers outside the Fox Theatre. Southern Company, Georgia Power's parent company, had reserved the historic Midtown venue to screen a documentary that it commissioned about the utility's 100-year history for shareholders and executives.
The flyers claimed that Southern Company used "its notorious lobbying machine to push a $2 billion rate hike" onto Georgia ratepayers to build "two risky nuclear reactors on the Savannah River," which the groups say are months behind schedule and $900 million overbudget. The flyer urges ratepayers to refuse to pay a fee tacked on to utility bills that helps pay for the reactors' construction.
Southern Company Spokesman Steve Higginbottom, standing just inside the Fox Theatre's entrance and speaking barely above the protesters' chants, said that Southern Company supports the rights of protesters but disputes their claims.
The "$900 million" figure cited by protesters, he said, has been alleged by Westinghouse, the manufacturer of the reactor, and Shaw, the project's general contractor.
"That $900 million is alleged to Georgia Power and its co-owners. Four hundred million dollars of that is what they attribute to Georgia Power," Higginbottom said. "We do not believe that that amount is the responsibility of Georgia Power."
He adds that there are currently "no cost overruns" and that the company "believes that all targets are achievable." According to Higginbottom, the first reactor would come online in 2016, with the second switching on the following year. He says the units are among the "safest" in the world — "even safer than what we operate now."
But an independent monitor hired by the Public Service Commission, a quasi-judicial state agency that decides how much Georgians pay to turn on their lights and heat up their ovens, seems to think that the project could face financial and scheduling issues. The monitor, quoted in an AJC article published last week, warned that costs could go overbudget and the project could face delays of "as much as seven months or more."
The occasion: the premiere of "Big Bets," a rosy documentary commissioned by the utility giant about its 100-year history. Organizers will voice opposition to the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia. According to a media advisory from the Sierra Club's Georgia Beyond Coal Campaign:
The demonstration will be used to highlight the large health and financial burden on consumers and communities created by Southern Company’s coal and nuclear “Bets” in Georgia. As the owner of the first new nuclear development in over 30 years, and the nation’s top 3 most polluting coal-fired power plants, Southern Company is wagering the livelihood of Georgia residents while obstructing smart-bets in clean-energy technology.
According to Georgia Women's Action for New Directions, which will also participate in the protest, will include "street theater, banner drops, drumming, chanting and distribution of literature aims to raise awareness of and pressure Southern Company to" stop building the new nuclear reactors.
We've searched high and low for a trailer of this riveting documentary, which is based on a book with the same name written by Southern Company communications staff. From a brief glance at the book — which, oddly enough, you can read here — it's a flattering take on the energy giant. If you know of one, send us a link.
One of those two proposals — transforming 16 acres of city-owned, mostly vacant land along Joseph E. Boone Boulevard into Historic Mims Park, a majestic $55 million greenspace celebrating Atlanta's role in civil rights — took a major step yesterday toward becoming a reality. (There's also gossip that it'd be one of the community projects Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons would help fund as part of a new stadium. More on that in a moment.)
An Atlanta City Council committee today OK'ed consolidating parcels owned by the city and Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, and executing a 50-year lease with the nonprofit organization that wants to build, operate, and maintain the park that would span three city blocks on the edge of Vine City. The proposal now awaits the approval of the full City Council and Mayor Kasim Reed.
The total cost to the city: a little more than $488,000, most of which will be used to pay off debt to the federal government related to a failed affordable housing project once proposed for the site, which is bounded by Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and Elm, Thurmond, and Walnut streets.
The years-in-the-making idea, which supporters say will help create jobs, nurture the community, and attract new residents and economic development, is the brainchild of Atlantan Rodney Mims Cook. Cook's a well-heeled booster of classical monuments who, along with his organization, the National Monuments Foundation, helped create Atlantic Station's Arc de Triomphe-esque Millenium Gate. He's also a descendant of former Mayor Livingston Mims, the park's namesake. (Interesting factoid: Mims once lived at the corner of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Peachtree Street where the Georgian Terrace now stands. Hence the hotel restaurants' names The Livingston and Cafe Mims.)
The greenspace Cook's proposing is modeled after the original Mims Park that once stood in the area but was razed in the 1950s to build a school. That park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned landscape architect who designed the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Manhattan's Central Park, among many others, was home to the city's first integrated playground. Cook says his father, a former member of the Atlanta Board of Aldermen (the precursor to the Atlanta City Council), compelled him to rebuild the greenspace.
The proposal is filled with nods to Atlanta's complex history stretching back to the state's founding. Much of the park would be located on land where German immigrant Edward Wackendorff opened a nursery and seed store in the 1870s which gave Vine City its name. Statues of notable Atlantan "peacemakers," including the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Julian Bond, W.E.B. DuBois, former Mayor Maynard Jackson, Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who lived on nearby Sunset Avenue), former Mayor Livingston Mims, and Booker T. Washington, would dot the greenspace. An 80-foot-tall "Peace Column" topped with a statue of Chief Tomochichi of the Yamacraw Tribe, considered a co-founder of Georgia, would serve as a centerpiece and offer views of the surrounding area and skyline. Downtown's erstwhile Carnegie Library would be replicated on the property and, Cook hopes, become the new home of Prince Charles of Wales' Foundation for the Built Environment, you-know-who's private foundation that champions sustainability.
Sure, there was talk some years ago of mounted police patrolling the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and (one day) transit. But we never heard of anything long term. Lighting along the most developed segments of the $2.8 billion project will only be installed as funding becomes available.
Thanks to a federal grant, however, the Atlanta Police Department says it will be able to assign officers to a special force tasked solely with patrolling the Beltline.
In a statement, a police spokesman says the APD has been awarded a three-year, $1.8 million federal grant - which requires a $966,075 match from the city - that will allow the department to hire 15 military veterans as police officers. Fifteen existing officers will ultimately be shifted to a new team, the "APD Path Force," which will enforce the law within the Beltline's footprint.
"These 15 officers will work in partnership with public, private and other City of Atlanta departments to develop long term initiatives that will alleviate crime, increase the quality of life and develop security and safety ideas that will promote participation and patronage of the Atlanta BeltLine," a spokesman said in a press release.
"This grant award will provide 15 officer positions and will assist us to provide police services to the city at large, while providing employment opportunities to those who have selflessly served our country," Police Chief George Turner said in a statement. "I am pleased that we were able to secure this grant; it is a boost in helping us to reach our goal of becoming the safest big city in America."
The APD hasn't set a date for when the Path Force will be deployed.
The neighboring states had appealed a lower court's ruling that said Georgia could use the massive reservoir, which was created by the federal government in the 1950s, as a source for water supply.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens applauded the court's decision.
"I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied certiorari, and the excellent decision by the Eleventh Circuit is the law - making clear that Lake Lanier can indeed be used for water supply for Georgia," he said in a statement. "It is my hope that we can finally put this decades-long legal dispute to rest and work together with our sister states - in meeting rooms, not courtrooms - to develop a fair and equitable water sharing plan and promote a strong and vibrant Southeastern region."
Sally Bethea of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a nonprofit advocacy group that monitors the waterway which flows into and from the lake, agreed.
"We agree with Sam Olens' statement," she said in an email. "It's time to get out of the courtroom and develop a water sharing agreement that meets the needs of all users up and down the [Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint, or ACF] basin. [Her organization] has been saying this for years."
Added Gov. Nathan Deal:
"By denying a hearing of the decision of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the tri-state water case, the nation's highest court has affirmed that drinking water was always an authorized use of Lake Lanier... We felt confident in the firm grounding of the Eleventh Circuit ruling. We can now move forward with this issue behind us, have the governors work together and come to a long-term agreement that will provide for the water needs of all three states."
Confused about the history of the tri-state water war? The Atlanta Regional Commission has a decent timeline of events. (Keep in mind that the mega-planning agency has long opined that the state had the right to tap Lake Lanier.)
We're waiting to hear from other folks, including eco advocates. More to come.
CL sat down with McKay Johnson, the principal of Clean Energy Biofuels, many months ago in the company's Arizona Avenue offices near the pump to discuss the project. Johnson told us the fuel would be made from used grease from local restaurants and produced at the firm's facility - powered entirely by solar energy - outside Athens. (We'll report more of those details in a bit.)
Via the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the nonprofit that's leading the project in partnership with Clean Energy Biofuels and the U.S. Department of Energy:
CEB Biodiesel is a local, sustainable and cleaner biodiesel. Burning biodiesel produces far less toxic emissions than petroleum-based diesel fuel, which contributes to asthma and cancer. Using CEB biodiesel also ensures that fuel consumed in Atlanta is locally produced, as opposed to fuel made in the Midwest (or elsewhere like other biodiesel available in the area), which also supports the local economy. SACE is committed to diversifying our region's fuel mix, whether it be with sustainably-produced biodiesel or further deployment of electric vehicles, are important steps for public health, the environment and for national security. [...]
The fueling station is part of the Department of Energy's I-75 Green Corridor Project that is creating the longest alternative fuels corridor in the United States - running along all 1,786 miles of Interstate 75. Once completed in 2013, it will be the longest biofuels corridor in the country, traversing six states and cutting through the core of the U.S. from Florida to Michigan. The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition is the project lead and manager while the Center for Transportation and Environment (CTE) is the project manager for the greater Atlanta portion of the corridor.
The pump, which offers a blend of B20 and B100, is open from 5 a.m. to dusk and accepts Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.
The section of road between Ponce de Leon Place and the Midtown Place Shopping Center (across from Ponce City Market) will be closed from June 9 through 11 and again from June 16 through June 18, 2012. The weekend of June 23 through 25 has been identified as a back-up weekend should inclement weather warrant.
During the first weekend (June 9 – 11) crews will disassemble the scaffolding that has allowed workers to safely remove lead-based paint and make structural repairs to the bridge over the past two months. The bridge will be lowered to its final elevation during the week of June 11-15. During the second week, the contractor will pour the concrete trail and complete touch-up repairs.
The street will close at 4 a.m. on Saturday and reopen at Monday at 5 a.m. All nearby shops will be open and accessible, project officials say.
For a herd of 100 sheep working this summer for Trees Atlanta, that's reality.
The arbor-loving non-profit is leading a reforestation project in Chastain Park called "Have Ewe Heard?" to protect the existing tree canopy from invasive plants.
The sheep, hired from Ewe-Niversally Green, will clear invasive plants, mainly privets and kudzu, from the park with the lowest impact possible. For these ruminants, privets and kudzu are special delights, similar to the ones you were drooling over seconds ago. Not only are the plants delicious, they're extremely healthy and nutritious for the animals.
Trees Atlanta expects it'll take roughly two weeks for the sheep, which can clear up to 150 square feet of vegetation every day, to clean up the two acres at Chastain. When they finish, they'll move to other parks throughout the city, clearing the invasive weeds, and protecting the city's urban forest. The sheep will work for six months, take a six-month break, and start their work again in June 2013.
To celebrate the start of the project, Trees Atlanta will host a one-hour "Breakfast with the Sheep" on June 8th at 9 a.m. The public is welcomed to dine with the animals at Chastain Park Conservancy. For all us non-legume eating folks, a free breakfast is provided by the Buckhead Ritz-Carlton.
Worried about the protection of the four-legged weed vacuums or for the little boys and girls frolicking in the park? Don't be. Guard dogs and a human shepherd will be guarding the sheep.
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