News & Press

Mayoral Candidate Responses to Greenspace Questionnaire

On July 13th, 2017, Trees Atlanta joined with nine other Atlanta environmental organizations to host the Atlanta Mayoral Candidate Forum on Greenspace. In addition to that conversation, we asked each campaign to respond to a 12-point questionnaire relating to greenspace issues in our city. Below are the questions, followed by each candidate’s response. You can find links to each candidates’ replies as well.

Q1. What do you believe is the single most pressing issue impacting Atlanta’s urban forest and greenspace, and how would you solve that issue?

Peter Aman

Atlanta’s population will continue to increase rapidly over the next few decades. While this presents an exciting opportunity to move our city forward economically and expand culturally, it will also challenge the foundation of our city. We will need to address how this population influx will affect infrastructure, mobility, and crucially, our urban forest and park system.

The city must dedicate itself to protecting our environment—especially our tree canopy and greenspace—during this growth. Determining where and how the city will develop is crucial to this effort, and the next mayor will oversee this through the city’s ongoing rezoning process. I am committed to ensuring the updated zoning laws will preserve and grow our existing greenspace and tree canopy and ensures equitable development and access for all of Atlanta’s residents. Zoning is one of our greatest tools to design dense urban and economic centers while also allowing us to preserve conservation areas throughout the city. A multi-year rezoning process is already underway and the next mayor will be instrumental in ensuring we are zoning for the future all while protecting the things that currently make Atlanta the city we love. In addition to zoning, other efforts will also be critical, including intentional acquisition of new greenspace, planting more trees, and finding opportunities for more park-making projects.

Through rezoning and other efforts, we will keep our canopy coverage at or above 48 percent and increase greenspace acreage throughout our entire city, solidifying our reputation as the city in a forest.

This will be a group effort. As a former Chief Operating Officer for the city of Atlanta, and as someone with extensive experience bringing people and organizations together, I am prepared to work collaboratively and ensure stakeholders from the environmental and greenspace community have a voice in how we collectively advance Atlanta.

Al Bartell

Stormwater management is the single most pressing issue impacting Atlanta’s urban forest and greenspace. I would solve the issue of stormwater management by creating a stormwater utility as a division of a citywide Department of the Environment.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

The most pressing issue impacting Atlanta’s urban forest and green space is apathy. We continue to lose more and more green space and trees every year and as Mayor, I will make addressing this issue a top priority. We simply have to find a balance between economic growth, development, and our quality of life. Communities have to know why it matters to them….whether it be because asthmatic children will have better health or simply property values will increase, there are a number of reasons that we all should and must care. Moreover, green space improves the overall quality of life for us all.

John Eaves

The single most pressing issue impacting the urban forest of Atlanta is uncontrolled growth in areas that are becoming saturated with new construction in such areas as Midtown, Buckhead, and Old Fourth Ward.

From an aerial view of Atlanta, there are clear fault lines that divide the tree canopy along the Peachtree Road corridor and Ponce de Leon Road in Old Fourth Ward. There needs to be a greater distribution of growth in areas south of I-20, with a focus on infill development of vacant industrial and commercial properties in such communities as Castleberry Hills, Grove Park. Pittsburgh, Mechanicsville, Thomasville, and West End. This can be achieved by incentivizing developers to build new construction projects through public financing by Invest Atlanta, tax credits from the Fulton County Tax Assessor’s Office, or obtaining “opportunity zone” designation by the State of Georgia.

Mary Norwood

Preserving and Protecting Atlanta’s forest cover – “Lungs of Atlanta” Atlanta is known as the “City in the Forest”. This is our most distinguishing natural feature, and one that has been underappreciated, underutilized and undervalued by government, business and many citizens until fairly recently. Our forest is as much our natural identity as Miami’s beach, Denver’s mountains and Chicago’s lakes. We must be as vigilant, as proud, as branded around our magnificent trees as those other cities are about their natural resources.

  • Forest and tree cover clean the air, reduce storm water runoff, protect the city from climate change and more. Trees Atlanta has done a tremendous job of working with the city to change the Tree Ordinance to access Recompense Funds (approx. $10 million) to purchase forested land to preserve. I will work to strengthen the city’s protection mechanisms, increase the public’s appreciation and improve the economic benefits to businesses for preserving our magnificent tree-filled environment.
  • As Mayor, I will support the City’s commitment to maintenance at all parks. Upon my return to Atlanta City Council, I hosted two years of “May with Mary: An Atlanta Parks Tour.” Each year, during the month of May, I welcomed our citizens to a park in every council district. It was important to me to showcase our parks all over our city…some on or near the Beltline and others farther away.
  • There has been a reluctance from the philanthropic community to contribute to the City of Atlanta because of the lack of commitment to Parks & Greenspace. In 2001, the City of Atlanta created a “Parks Foundation” (Legislation # 01-O-0593) I would pursue the implementation of a Parks Foundation to assist the City in acquiring additional greenspace AND maintaining our parks.
  • Our right of ways and forested greenspaces are touched by several city departments. Trees are often not thought of as infrastructure and therefore are not cared for in their everyday work and long-term projects.
  • How would you get City Departments to work together to better manage and protect our forested areas and public trees?
  • I have run many organizations in my career and I would bring together a representative from the following departments: Dept. of Parks and Rec, Sustainability/Resilience, Dept. of Planning, Dept. of Watershed Management and Dept. of Public Works to establish the coordination and procedures needed to better manage our forested areas and public trees.

Cathy Woolard

There are a number of different issues that impact the urban tree canopy and greenspace and they are not necessarily the same. For the tree canopy, I think the most pressing issue is a weak and poorly enforced tree ordinance. For greenspace, I think it is insufficient funding for existing park maintenance and improvement as well as for growing our acreage to meet the needs of our city. The issues are inter-related but also require some specific policy and financial decisions.

Because a tree canopy commission is now underway, I’m hopeful that the set of policy and enforcement recommendations will resolve the weak ordinance and as Mayor, I’ll commit to funding and standing behind the enforcement mechanism. We can’t be serious about mitigating climate change, managing storm-water and preserving this unique and precious asset without committing to changes that provide real protection against loss of canopy and investing in planting trees for the future.

As to funding of existing park maintenance and improvement as well as for growing our acreage: I’ll increase the parks and recreation budget by $3.3 million year over year in the first four years. That will guarantee a minimum budget of nearly $50 million – a number that was promised many years ago but never fulfilled.

In the first six months of my new Administration, I’ll convene a Task Force comprised of parks advocates, neighborhood representatives, philanthropic and corporate leaders to assess, price and rank all of the great public realm projects struggling to find a way while adding priorities that we might not have considered like how to make our public realm more accessible to seniors, children and people with disabilities and how to increase and improve the recreation and fitness offerings that we offer across the city. By the end of the first year, we’ll have a priority list, budget and a map for getting it done.

We’ll spend year two and three working with the Georgia General Assembly to pass and implement an appropriate funding solution to grow and maintain our system well into our grandchildren’s adult years. And I’ll get to work with the Task Force and city staff to do the blocking and tackling required to fund and build a world class parks and recreation system.

Kwanza Hall


Protecting and enhancing Atlanta’s urban forest and greenspace will be one of the key environmental priorities of my administration. Today, the booming commercial and residential development in our city presents a continuing challenge to our urban forest and green spaces. This is not a new problem but it requires new solutions.

My Administration will start by reviewing all the current regulations to identify ways to enhance the protection of our tree canopy and greenspaces. This, by the way, will go beyond tree-cutting regulations and will include a comprehensive analysis of all threats to forested green space, including heavy rain, drought and pests. The 100% clean energy commitment that I led and our efforts to address climate change will play a key role in our urban forest and greenspace protection and enhancement programs.

Ceasar Mitchell

The single most pressing issue impacting Atlanta’s urban forest and greenspace is development. Interestingly enough, canopies are always included in the renderings for new development, yet they are rarely included in final development. As our city continues to grow and attract new development, our urban forest and greenspace become more and more diminished. However, with increased development comes a real opportunity to change the narrative.

To prevent new development from completely diminishing our canopy, we must consciously decide to require all new developers to commit to preserving our urban forest and new greenspace. As Mayor, I will make it a requirement for developers to plant or preserve trees in an effort to offset loss due to development. We must make the be purposeful in requiring developers to provide more benefits to the communities in which the development is occuring.




Q2. The community is frustrated with widespread tree destruction and removal on teardown/infill sites. Would you support tree ordinance changes that limit impervious surface and total clear-cutting?

Peter Aman

The current regulatory structure restricts low and middle income residents but does little to limit large-scale tree removal. I will review the current policies and work collaboratively to increase the degree of protection for large areas of tree canopy. These clear-cutting projects are the biggest threat to our tree canopy and we must review relevant ordinances to address this reality. One possible concept worth examining is to tether the cost of tree-removal to the expected change in property value. The city should not charge a low-income family removing one or two trees at the same rate we charge a developer cutting down dozens of trees. As your mayor, I will address these regulations to protect trees in teardown sites while easing the burden on everyday Atlantans.

We must also make our guidelines explicit, so developers have clear rules to follow and are not faced with unexpected tree-removal moratoriums that hurt business and delay development projects. It benefits everyone to have a clear, robust tree removal ordinance. The city needs to establish effective and coherent regulations, rather than burden residents and businesses with ever-changing ordinances and unexpected costs.

Al Bartell

Yes.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

I share that frustration and would support an ordinance that addresses those concerns.

John Eaves

During my first term as Mayor, I would explore a legal basis to impose a 1 to a 2-year moratorium on new building construction in areas north and east of downtown, while incentivizing growth through commercial tax abatements in areas to the south and west of downtown. Further, I will adopt an “environmental justice” compliance regulation to the City’s Zoning Ordinance, which will protect communities from the negative consequences of misguided development in distressed communities. I will also champion changes to city zoning regulations that would strengthen the tree ordinance that limits impervious surface and total clear-cutting.

Mary Norwood

First, the Tree Ordinance must be re-written and our tree canopy needs to be connected to land value. I advocated for this policy when the Tree Ordinance was first adopted. Secondly, the current revision of the Tree Ordinance is in Committee. It needs to be adopted. Third, we must rewrite our zoning ordinance and include the protection of our natural environment as we redevelop the City. Our Commissioner of Planning has designated neighborhoods as the “lungs of Atlanta” because that’s where our tree canopy exists. The City Design Project is focusing on adding the 800,000 new residents (projected) along our commercial corridors, which will reduce the pressure on our Single Family Residential neighborhoods. Fourth, the vast majority of our tree canopy is in private hands. We must launch a public awareness program explaining the benefits of Conservation Easements and assisting homeowners who wish to preserve the greenspace they own in doing so. Finally, I just supported a 180 day moratorium on the acceptance of any application to remove more than 10 trees on residentially-zoned land of five acres or larger. During the moratorium period, the City is will examine the impact that development is having on our tree canopy and develop strategies for increasing and preserving the City’s tree canopy. This interim strategy will protect our tree canopy until the comprehensive Urban Ecology Framework can be created.

Cathy Woolard

Absolutely. I’m assuming that the tree canopy commission will be making solid recommendations on these issues and, if not, I’ll ask for more work on the policy. There are legal considerations governing the use of private property that will need to be considered so that the ordinance will be enforceable and fair, but I’ll be aggressive in getting policies that have real teeth passed through the City Council.

It’s important to understand the relationship between trees, climate change and storm-water management. A medium-sized oak tree can absorb 2,800 gallons of rainfall per year. Removal of just one of these trees has a dollar value to the city that is tangible. And when you multiply in the impact of loss of tree canopy and escalating heat in our city and world, we can calculate a fairly precise value on each tree that is removed and/or planted. We should reflect that value when determining how much impervious surface and tree removal to allow in new or infill construction and the impact fees required to mitigate loss of tree canopy.

Kwanza Hall

My administration will review all existing City rules and regulations in order to identify additional controls on tree removals and re-plantings. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer but, for starters, we need to find a better and stricter way to deal with developers who may clear-cut a property without permits and then dismiss the payment of fines as just another cost of doing business.

Impervious surfaces put additional pressure on our waste water collecting and treatment systems and I will work with the Council to define and establish reasonable regulations to increase pervious surfaces in our city.

Ceasar Mitchell

I would absolutely support strengthening the city’s Tree Ordinance. Our tree canopy is one of the things that makes Atlanta such a special place to live and it is our duty to preserve it. The purpose of the Tree Ordinance is to guard against any net loss of trees within the city’s borders. However, a primary issue with the current Tree Ordinance is enforcement, or the lack thereof. As Mayor, not only will I uphold our current Tree Ordinance to ensure that we preserve more of our existing trees, I will strengthen the ordinance by ensuring that our best quality trees are included as an integral part of the building process. I will empower the City of Atlanta Arborist Division to protect more tree canopy on private property throughout the city. I will create clearing processes based solely on need and necessity. Lastly, I will attach monetary deterrents to new development projects, which can incentivize developers to consider our urban forest in their plans.


Q3. How would you get the development community on board with growing and building our city while protecting our greenspace?

Peter Aman

It is essential that as our city continues to grow, we reach out to the development community and the public to help protect our greenspace. Developers have influence in our city’s future and we must exhibit to them the value and importance of our parks and preserving what makes our neighborhoods special. There is plenty of room for win-win opportunities here. Parks continue to be an economic boon to neighborhoods and the city at-large and drive the increase of value in land owned by both private citizens and developers.

When parks are properly maintained, they attract residents and businesses, leading to economic growth. As the local economy grows and the value of neighborhood real estate rises, the area becomes attractive to developers. It is imperative that we prepare and plan

The development community should be involved in the park planning process, creating innovative ways of integrating greenspace into a vibrant and growing city. I will work with the development community to preserve our existing greenspace and expand parks in a manner that strengthens our neighborhoods and their economies. This will be done by choosing strategic locations for parks that will have the greatest social and economic benefit, and including these designated areas in the new zoning ordinance.

Al Bartell

I would get the development community on board with growing and building our city while protecting our greenspace by having neighborhood, community, faith, and small business leaders get involved and be included in communicating data, collecting data, and distributing data — through the establishment of the City of Atlanta Department of Environment.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

I will explore creative ways to incentivize the development community to help grow and build our greenspace.

Parks are a critical part of the quality of life that attracts new business and new people to our city. While some in the development community may find protecting our free space somewhat burdensome on the front end, I am certain the overall benefit to their bottom line will be well worth the effort. Balance is key.

If we see our parks as an investment in our city’s future, then we must protect that investment and future with the proper amount of maintenance. It has to be a priority. To allow our parks to grow in disrepair is to turn a positive investment that attracts prosperity to our city into a negative for our communities.

John Eaves

I believe that development and growth in an evenly distributed way is a plus for developers and the city as a whole. As Mayor, I will use my office to bring the development community together to foster a shared vision of balanced growth while preserving green space. I believe that smart balanced growth can be a win-win for neighborhood interest and developers. Additionally, Invest Atlanta and the Fulton Development authority should adopt a joint policy of granting tax abatements only to new construction projects in distressed communities.

Mary Norwood

I believe the development community is looking for fairness and an equal opportunity for their development. With clear rules and equitable enforcement for ALL permits, their costs will be predictable and their timeline more manageable.

Cathy Woolard

I’d work with the Development Community the same way I’d work with other communities in our city. I’d include a representative group of individuals and organizations in conversations to help them understand and develop our goals for preserving and growing our public areas while listening to understand the challenges they face when making investments in developments in Atlanta. My best expectation is that we will be able to get broad consensus on the objectives which will help us craft the policies to achieve those goals. While I don’t expect everyone will agree with every aspect of our plans, I believe we can work toward a win-win in most instances and will always seek to do so. That doesn’t mean we compromise on our objectives; it just means we seek input on how best to get there. I believe it’s in everyone’s best interest to build a world-class city and I look forward to working with developers to help us do it.

Kwanza Hall

I believe that rules that are created without input from those most affected often are ignored, circumvented or challenged in court so we will not do that.

In my administration, we will invite developers to partner with community, neighborhood, environment and greenspace advocates, among others, as we seek to define and establish better rules for development that will include environmental and greenspace protection.

I am convinced that we can make that collective effort work. Yes, there is a natural and understandable tension between development and preservation but, fortunately, smart developers are recognizing that preservation and environmental protection can be a great asset, even a selling asset, to the developed property, be it commercial or residential.

Ceasar Mitchell


To get the development community on board with growing and building our city -while also protecting our greenspace – I will offer building permit incentives. As Mayor, my plan includes planting 5,000 new trees throughout the city. To ensure that the development community is on board with this plan, developers will be asked to commit their support upfront through the permitting process.

As Mayor, I will also add an additional safeguard to building permits process to encourage new developers to plant or preserve trees surrounding the development. Additionally, the initial building permits will come with a tree inventory that creates an incentive to preserve those trees. However, if the developer does not preserve the trees in the building process, the builder will have to pay the city to offset the costs to plant additional trees or be used for park maintenance. It is important for the city to ensure developers consider our urban forestry, and the only way to make that happen is to assign a monetary value in the form of a tree removal fee.


Q4. As Mayor, what would you do to evaluate the current state of maintenance of our park system?

Peter Aman

We must understand the current status of park maintenance before extensive change can take place so we make sure we spend our dollars wisely. But make no mistake, I intend to increase the investment in park maintenance. To this end, I will pursue three independent but related projects. First, I will request a formal audit of the park maintenance system to fully account for our spending. I will also develop a special task force to assess and make recommendations based off of the current state of park maintenance, where we succeed, and where there is opportunity for improvement. This will include internal City Hall departments, community leaders from the greenspace community, and subject matter experts. Lastly, I believe local neighborhoods and the residents and business that comprise them, understand their needs most clearly yet remain underutilized as information sources. I will reach out to community members, businesses, nonprofits, and schools for input on the status of their neighborhood parks. Armed with a greater understanding of existing conditions, we will have the tools to develop informed and targeted initiatives for our parks.

Al Bartell

I would re-institute the Task Force for Park and Greenspace.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

I will conduct a walking audit of our greenspace, as well as solicit public and private feedback on what the wants and needs are of each of our parks.

John Eaves

Among my first actions as Mayor, I would conduct a full assessment and evaluation of all City of Atlanta departments, programs, and services. With this assessment and evaluation, I would develop a comprehensive strategy to address unmet needs, eliminate duplication, and make the necessary budgetary adjustments to deliver more efficient services, including the maintenance of the park system.

Mary Norwood

First, we need to use ATL Stats to identify and quantify our current level of maintenance and we need these statistics more readily available to our citizens. Secondly, we need to have our Parks personnel equipped with cameras to document their work and have those images transmitted back to City Hall for both the Department and our citizens to review.

Cathy Woolard

I’d create a deferred maintenance log and then do on-site inspections of our facilities with local residents, park advocates, conservancies and other interested groups to make sure we’ve captured a comprehensive list. I want to ensure that our processes for receiving information on minor and major repairs are clear and easy for everyone to access. Putting that log on-line so that people can submit requests and see repair schedules will make it easier for everyone to be accountable and for us to address problems in an organized fashion.

Kwanza Hall

At the outset, my administration will start with a comprehensive review of all departments and offices of the City. Review of the Parks & Recreation Department will be a priority.

In that review, we will take advantage of the expertise regarding greenspace, parks and recreation issues that is available in our city outside City government.

Ceasar Mitchell

As Mayor, to evaluate the current state of maintenance of our park system, I will enlist the expertise of nonprofits such as Trees Atlanta to help develop a comprehensive evaluation and maintenance plan and process for all city parks and greenspaces.  The Trust for Public Land conducted a 2017 Park Score survey ranking the largest 100 U.S. cities. The survey was based on 3 criteria – acreage, facilities and maintenance, and access. According to the survey, Atlanta is tied with Dallas for 50th place. The easiest way to improve our Park Score is via maintenance.

As a Councilmember, I established the Atlanta Park Technical Advisory Group to provide recommendations on how to achieve and sustain a world-class Parks & Recreation system. Additionally, I created the Atlanta Clean Green Team to provide sustainable best practices and resources to over 22 community groups with the goal of improving parks and greenspaces in their neighborhoods. As Mayor, I will take my work a step further and create a Park and Greenspace Task Force for the purpose of expanding and preserving our parks, locate designated funding sources for park maintenance, and ensure that our parks are in great working condition.


Q5. How would you make the case for increased funding for park maintenance? Are there specific funding sources you would consider for park funding aside from general funds?

Peter Aman

Atlanta does not dedicate sufficient financial resources to our parks and greenspace. In fact, adjusting for inflation, funding for parks and greenspace is on the decline. As your mayor, parks and greenspace will no longer take a backseat. My case for increased funding for greenspace maintenance is simple: when properly maintained, parks improve life for everyone in our city. They are crucial to our city’s culture, economy, livability, equity, and overall quality of life. Parks make people happy.

I am dedicated increasing the park budget on an annual basis so our parks and greenspace. To ensure this money is spent responsibly, the increase will be based upon a plan with specific guidelines and goals for the park system. These guidelines must prioritize inclusivity, so that every Atlanta resident can experience nature in a safe and comfortable way.

In addition to traditional funding sources, I will partner with nonprofits and other government entities including Atlanta Public Schools to support parks throughout our city. I will also examine what new sources of revenue could be dedicated to parks, such as a potential parking tax. These organizations have property, money, expertise, and volunteers that the city should utilize as a cost-effective way to grow park resources and improve park maintenance. In particular, I will work with APS to include their greenspace in the city’s park system. However, it is not enough to stop there; simply naming a field as public property is not satisfactory. Both existing and new greenspace will be properly maintained and special attention will be given to public safety. Parks should be a space for families to feel safe and comfortable, and general maintenance coupled with an emphasis on public safety will move us closer to this goal.

Al Bartell

I would make the case for increased funding in the area of park maintenance by shifting the budget priorities from resource management to greenspace management. The funding sources I would consider are the impact fees of large development projects and light industry initiatives.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

I have sponsored budget Amendments to improve our parks and will continue that investment as Mayor. I will work with the State to create a mechanism for setting aside a percentage of property sales to go towards the acquisition and maintenance of greenspace.

John Eaves

I am committed to increased funding for the maintenance of parks in Atlanta. The maintenance of parks is important from both an aesthetic and public safety perspective. Good clean functioning parks can also lead to better health outcomes and generate cohesive communities. We should consider whether or not voters would be willing to approve a special set-aside tax for parks and greenspace, similar to the T-SPLOST which funds transportation projects.

Mary Norwood

• The City’s capacity to maintain its existing inventory of public parks, greenspaces and trails is underfunded. By under-investing in park maintenance, we sell our city short. This negatively impacts the economic development, community revitalization, public safety as well as quality of life in neighborhoods throughout our city. It also discourages innovation and additional private capital investment in our parks.

  • Atlanta has failed to keep pace with the need to grow its park maintenance budget over time (see research on benchmarks from Parks and Greenspace Task Force Report (2002) and Parks Technical Advisory Committee (2006))*
  • Additionally, the City of Houston has an Open Space Ordinance which mandates that new development create parkland or pay a fee to the City’s Park Fund. Atlanta has our Park Impact Fees. I will make certain that our fees are assessed appropriately and used exclusively for our parks.
  • As Mayor, I will work the City’s Legal Department along with Parks and Recreation to review the relationships and the mechanisms that exist with our Conservancies and our Friends of the Parks, for example, rulings on fundraising activities or the recognition of donors or sponsors. We need to make sure that all operating agreements and MOU’s enable these organizations to have the tools, resources, and support they need to be successful.

Cathy Woolard

The case for increased maintenance funding is already made. We’ve increased our park land by over 1,000 acres in the past 20 years and our funding level is about $15m in today’s dollars below where it was 20 years ago. The need is clear. I have ideas about ways we can increase funding beyond the $3.3 million year over year increase I’m committing to over the first four years. But I’d rather do a comprehensive review of options before saying definitively what a long-term solution is. I’ll put together a Task Force immediately to inventory our needs and aspirations and then seek the right combination of funding to fulfill those priorities. It will likely be a combination of general and reserve fund (like watershed and storm-water mitigation), a permanent funding source and philanthropic and federal/state resources.

Kwanza Hall

I would ask the Department of City Planning to evaluate bringing developer impact fee in line with surrounding jurisdictions and propose legislation to make changes if needed. Also I would be open to calling for a referendum on our parks millage (currently 5 mills) and see whether voters would like to increase it and open it up to cover maintenance as well.

Ceasar Mitchell

Yes, I would absolutely make a case for increased funding for park maintenance. Ten years ago, when I created the Atlanta Parks Technical Advisory Group, one of the key recommendations was to find a designated funding source for our parks. Back then, the city knew that funding solely from the General Fund was not sustainable, which was evident during the recession. As a result of the advisory group’s efforts, the city allocated an additional $2M into the budget for parks. As Mayor, not only will I allocate sufficient funds for parks through the city’s Parks & Recreation Budget, I will create a designated funding source specifically for park maintenance. Similar to the city’s Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond Maintenance Fund, I will set aside a portion of the annual budget and deposit it into a park maintenance fund. This fund will allow for quick and routine repairs of our city parks and equipment to keep them in great working condition.

I believe we have an incredible opportunity to go above and beyond what was done with the Parks Improvement Bond, along with funding from the General Fund, by authorizing a fraction of a penny tax to fund parks and create a viable source of funding for maintenance.

Lastly, I will take a collaborative approach to creating a funding source. As Mayor, not only will the philanthropic community be encouraged to support these effort, but I will also lead the charge to have Fulton County and the Atlanta Public School System on board as partners in increasing and protecting our parks and greenspace.

Q6. Do you believe we need more parks and protected greenspace? Are you in favor of convening a new Parks and Greenspace Task Force?

Peter Aman

Yes, growing park acreage remains essential to our city. Atlanta currently ranks in the middle of the pack on the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore, and expanding our greenspace is key to climbing that list. New construction and development is crucial to growing our greenspace, but we need to do this in a way that is cost effective. If we are creative and reimagine what we consider greenspace, we can efficiently increase acreage and access. I will work with APS on turning their parks and fields into public parks after hours and during the summer recess. And, we can work with developers and property owners to activate private greenspace for special use by the public. This, along with purchasing more property for parks, will expand the portion of the city dedicated as greenspace and available for public use. We should also look at the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies standards to find areas for improvement.

I also support the creation of a Greenspace Task Force to address issues of funding, acreage, access, public safety, and how to otherwise improve our parks. There are great challenges to our city’s greenspace, and a dedicated task force would help us think big, overcome challenges, and improve our public spaces in a fiscally responsible manner.

I have already encouraged the greenspace and environmental community to put together a proposal of activities and initiatives my administration will begin to tackle in the first 100 days I am in office.

Al Bartell

Yes and yes.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Yes and yes. I live in the only NPU in the City without designated parks and green space and know firsthand the need for more within many of our communities.

John Eaves

I fervently believe that parks and green space can significantly enhance the quality of life of residents in Atlanta, and they can result in better health outcomes for children and the elderly when regularly utilized. The parks and green space footprint of Atlanta can be expanded through a partnership with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Public School System, Fulton County Government, Department of Transportation, MARTA and the private sector. Each of these entities currently operates in its silo, and each has undesignated green space that can be considered parks for recreational purposes, however, through a collaborative effort, great things can happen in the City. As Mayor, I would re-establish the Parks and Greenspace Task Force with representatives from the Atlanta Public School System, Fulton County, and the private sector.

Mary Norwood

Yes. I have been an Atlanta Greenspace and Parks advocate since my arrival in Atlanta in the 1970’s. I was a participant in the Georgia Land Trust raising funds to acquire Greenspace in the City of Atlanta in the late 1990’s – early 2000’s. I have been a longterm advocate of Parks, participating in Park Pride prior to my being elected to City Council in 2002. I understand that multiplicity of benefits that Parks provide including:

  • Community Revitalization
    • Community Engagement
    • Economic Development
    • Safer Neighborhoods
    • Green Infrastructure
    • Helping Children Learn
    • Improving Public Health
    • Providing Settings for Arts & Cultural Programs
    • Promoting Tourism
    • Contributing to Smart Growth by enhancing our Quality of Life
    • An integral part of Climate Change Management by mitigating the effects of our urban heat island

Cathy Woolard

See Question #1 for my commitment on this question. Yes, I am in favor of a new Parks and Greenspace Task Force and will use that group to help create the plan for expansion of our parks and protected greenspaces.

Kwanza Hall

I do believe that we need more parks and protected greenspaces and early in my administration I would convene a new Parks and Greenspace Task Force.

Ceasar Mitchell

Yes. I am absolutely in favor of more parks and protected greenspace. I am also in favor of convening a new Parks and Greenspace Task Force. As I mentioned, I created a Park Advisory Group along with a “Clean Green Team” to push the city forward and create and sustain world-class parks and recreation systems within large neighborhoods and smaller communities. When it comes to parks and greenspace, Atlanta has an equity problem. I will work to create a strong assessment of the greenspace we already have and make sure that we are maintaining and preserving them as well as exploring ways to expand into areas where there are deficiencies. I believe the city is missing a huge opportunity by not considering school parks as greenspaces. As Mayor, I will refashion how the city classifies and defines parks and greenspaces and push to view them through innovative lenses. A great example is the new GA400 Park located in Buckhead. The city capitalized on the area surrounding GA400 Highway and transformed the area into a park. As Mayor, I will look for more opportunities such as highways and urban agriculture as strengthen our park and greenspace footprint and to create multi-use spaces.

Q7. Providing specific details, how would you develop a plan for our city that includes both future growth and our urban forest?

Peter Aman

The next mayor will be responsible for planning where and how our city will develop. We need to pursue a strategy that welcomes newcomers and economic growth while preserving the environment and urban forest that defines our city. The next mayor will be responsible for overseeing a rezoning process that will encourage two interests seemingly at odds, growth and preservation. If we harness this growth productively, this is an opportunity to make our city a more prosperous, equitable, and vibrant place to live. We need to get this right.

In this pivotal moment, Atlanta deserves a mayor that has experience coordinating government agencies, understands the zoning process, and is willing to get deep into the weeds of policy. I plan to enact initiatives in line with the Atlanta City Design Project and its values of nature, access, ambition, progress and equity. The key to sculpting healthy growth in Atlanta will be to distinguish between conservation areas and growth areas. I will tailor zoning to promote density in business districts with even more capacity, such as Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead—and other transportation corridors such as Metropolitan Parkway and Cascade Road—while preserving the tree canopy and neighborhood character throughout the rest of the city.

While zoning is our greatest tool to success over the next few decades, there is no panacea. I am committed to the expansion of MARTA—in tandem with a reduction of urban parking—to ease mobility and encourage public transit in our city. I will re-write our tree ordinance to curb large scale tree removal. I will work with every relevant government agency to create a comprehensive city strategy that preserves our urban forest, proactively harnesses the benefits of population growth, and creates a city we all are proud to live in.

Al Bartell

I would develop a plan for our city that includes both future growth and our urban forest by including data from Atlanta’s 240 neighborhood associations and 25 Neighborhood Planning Units through the establishing of a City of Atlanta Department of Environment.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

As Mayor, I will work with public and private stakeholders to thoughtfully balance and plan for growth and protection of our urban forest. I will convene a Task Force that will be charged with exploring and making recommendations on this issue.

John Eaves

In my role as chairman of the County and during my time in the Peace Corps, I have seen firsthand how we can achieve this goal. There is a critical need to develop a futuristic master plan for the growth and development of the City of Atlanta until the year 2040. This plan should be developed by multiple stakeholders with facilitation by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Mary Norwood

As previously stated, there has been a reluctance from the philanthropic community to contribute to the City of Atlanta because of the lack of commitment to Parks & Greenspace. In 2001, the City of Atlanta created a “Parks Foundation” (Legislation # 01-O-0593) I would pursue the implementation of a Parks Foundation to assist the City in acquiring additional greenspace AND maintaining our parks.

I am a strong proponent of working with DWM to create parks that assist with our City’s stormwater runoff. We have torrential rainfall which exceeds our ability to manage. Our City needs LOTS of parks created in conjunction with DWM to provide green infrastructure throughout our City.

Additionally, the City of Houston has an Open Space Ordinance which mandates that new development create parkland or pay a fee to the City’s Park Fund. Atlanta has our Park Impact Fees. I will make certain that our fees are assessed appropriately and used exclusively for our parks.

Cathy Woolard

A new Tree Commission is in place and working toward recommendations. I’d support the work of that Commission and will provide input as Mayor on the scope of the project if I feel it is not ambitious or comprehensive enough to achieve our goals for preserving tree canopy, mitigating climate change, reducing storm-water run-off. I’d charge the new Parks and Greenspace Task Force to follow that formula while looking specifically at the issues outlined in #1.

Kwanza Hall

The City Design Project is off to a great start. I support continuing and perhaps enhancing that effort to bring it to a timely conclusion.  Then, and this is the key thing, I would work hard to implement that plan.  In the Hall administration that plan will not gather dust in a bookshelf.

Ceasar Mitchell

In 2013, Trees Atlanta made a commitment to plant 4,000 trees within two years. However, the project has not been completed due to insufficient funding. As Mayor, I will help find the funding to honor that initial promise and increase the city’s commitment to plant more trees across town. A possible way to accomplish this goal is including the business community.

I will develop a program that replenishes and preserves trees. Under the program, the city will require developers to plant or preserve a certain amount of trees for every new project. The formula for tree planting or preservation will be based on the type of development. I want to ensure that Atlanta is the tree and canopy model for our region. As Mayor, I will prove how a major metropolitan city can build with trees for a truly sustainable future!


Q8. How do you see the City’s role changing as maintenance of the Atlanta BeltLine becomes a more prominent issue?

Peter Aman

As the Beltline continues to develop and establish itself within our city, we must evaluate our priorities, which I believe are equity, connectivity, and public safety (among others, eg education, city services, etc.). The Beltline’s challenges run deeper than improving maintenance, as the symbolic resignations of Nathaniel Smith and Ryan Gravel demonstrated. We do not have to choose between development and preservation; we can do both. I will emphasize equity, connectivity, and public safety as the keys to building a Beltline that benefits our entire city.

For some Atlanta residents, the Beltine is synonymous with exclusion and gentrification. Property value surrounding the new infrastructure has risen, forcing some residents out of their homes and neighborhoods. I will work with developers to ensure that affordable housing is available along the path. It is critical that we allow longtime residents to continue to live in their communities. I will not permit development take place at the expense of inclusion. To this effect, I would work with civic organizations to provide tax relief so that increased assessments do not force these vulnerable communities out of their homes—just as we have done on the west side of Atlanta already.

Specific to the physical maintenance of the Beltline, by auditing and assessing the current parks inventory –including the Beltline– we will be able to see upcoming funding and maintenance challenges. This is another area where our Greenspace Task Force will have an active voice in shaping public policy and ensuring the public is heard.

Looking towards the future, I want to think even bigger. If we stress public safety and beautification along the entire Beltline—not just the wealthy neighborhoods—the Beltline can help in the greater fight to unravel existing inequality in Atlanta. We must ensure that stretches of the Beltline in the poorest areas in our city are as beautiful and safe as in the wealthiest areas. If we think big, the Beltline can be a shared space for our city to get outside, enjoy our parks, feel safe, and explore the city—and connects neighborhoods and communities throughout our city.

In addition to creating a place for Atlantans to get outside in a safe and community environment, the Beltline can connect our city in a transformative way. As a walking and biking path, the Beltline already is a force for connectivity throughout our city. But it can do more. We can connect light rail to the Beltline and extend this transit along the path. Residents will have access to schools, jobs, and opportunities that are currently out of reach. If we develop strategically, the Beltline will work to unite our city, improve mobility, and expand economic opportunity to those who need it most.

Al Bartell

I see the City’s role changing by giving back to the communities of Atlanta ownership and development of Atlanta Beltline maintenance through engagement strategies.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

The City will likely have to allocate more funding towards maintenance, while continuing to work with public and private partners to maximize a dedicated funding source.

John Eaves

The BeltLine will become a part of the regional transit system for the Metro Atlanta Region and is likely to fall under the auspices of MARTA. The City will continue to play a leadership role in the Beltline as an active participant and influencer of ARC and MARTA.

Mary Norwood

All of our Parks need our attention. I have been a strong proponent of the Atlanta Beltline since first acquiring Alexander Garvin’s The Emerald Necklace.

My involvement in neighborhoods across the City began in the 1980’s, which was also the decade when I was the first Volunteer Coordinator for Trees Atlanta and one of the Founding Members of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s volunteer organization: Garden Associates. The Atlanta Beltline touches 45 neighborhoods in our City. Our City has over 300 neighborhoods, all of which We need an assessment of our entire tree canopy: nature preserves, parks, and privately held greenspace so that we prioritize where our funds can be spent.

As Mayor, I want to ensure every child in Atlanta grows up within a 10-minute walk of a park, trail or natural area. We need to collaborate with the Atlanta Public School system to strategize how their facilities can be used after hours and on weekends. We could increase our percentage of parks and recreation facilities dramatically if we were successful. Most importantly, it would enhance the quality of our children’s and families lives in our city. They deserve our care and concern.

Cathy Woolard

The Atlanta BeltLine is a massively complex project in terms of execution, maintenance and impact. To be a world-class city, we need world-class projects like the Atlanta BeltLine but it is only as good as we make it and maintain it. The City will always be responsible for the overall health of this project because it is a public asset. I think the role of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership or a successor organization will grow in importance as we determine the best way to ensure the asset is maintained at the highest possible level. That likely means a combination of general fund revenues for things that make sense like public safety and basic maintenance and perhaps a conservancy type arrangement to ensure a healthy and timely flow of investments and new improvements as time goes on.

Kwanza Hall

I think continuing existing partnerships and encouraging new partnerships with interested communities and organizations is particularly important in everything involving the Beltline, including maintenance.

Over time we have learned that “Friends of” parks groups tend to do the best job of capturing the time and talent of those who care the most about parks near and dear to them. As such, I think we need to let those groups take the lead, but at the same time ensure that the Department of Parks is collaborative, responsive and supportive, not just in partnership with existing “Friends of” groups but by filling any gaps where “Friends of” groups might not exist.

Ceasar Mitchell

While the city will play a pivotal role in helping to maintain the Beltline, I believe that the issues regarding equity, connectivity, and affordability are more prominent for the community than maintenance. Managed appropriately, the Beltline has incredible potential, but it is important that we recognize and address its pros and cons.

As the former Chair of the Community Development/Human Resource Committee, and as one of the authors of the original Beltline legislation, I fought for policies and principles around accessibility and affordability, greenspace investment and community benefits. As Mayor, the city will fulfill the promise we made to the community years ago by ensuring that the Beltline will be affordable, accessible and enjoyable for all residents.

           


Q9. What is the likelihood that the City will increase its commitment to maintenance of the BeltLine as this is critical to securing philanthropic support to make the Atlanta BeltLine a reality?

Peter Aman

I am committed to increasing maintenance on the Beltline and partnering with independent organizations to ensure the successful preservation and growth of the Beltline. Many groups in the city have a stake in the success of the Beltline including APS, businesses, neighborhoods, and philanthropic organizations. Again, our Greenspace Task Force will play a critical role in determining the level and scope of maintenance of the Beltline and ensuring there is a robust public-private partnership.

Al Bartell

It is very likely the City will increase its commitment to maintenance of the Beltline, if the City shifts from a corporate model of government to an urban model of government.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Very likely. The Beltline is a tremendous asset to the city and it is extremely important that we send a message to our philanthropic partners that we as a city will continue to make an investment towards its success and future.

John Eaves

Residents and stakeholders will have the final say on how the City proceeds–with not only the Beltline–but all projects that impact the quality of life in Atlanta. Like I have led as Chairman of Fulton County, bringing groups together to achieve a common goal, I will provide the same leadership at City Hall on this issue.

Mary Norwood

Very likely.

Cathy Woolard

Since I initiated the Atlanta BeltLine project more than 15 years ago, you can be assured that I will ensure that we are aggressive in securing the philanthropic as well as federal and state grant funding needed to complete the project with transit and a radical emphasis on housing affordability on the parts that we own. The future costs of maintenance will be part of the discussion of the Task Force and will spark a deep look at how we sustain the project will into the future.

Kwanza Hall

I agree that maintenance of the Beltline is critical to its continued development.  Clearly, with all capital improvements comes maintenance responsibility and the City is and will probably increase its maintenance efforts as more parks are opened.   

We will conduct a Beltline maintenance and projected cost review as we develop a City budget for 2018 and also seek to leverage private funds from as many places as possible to ensure adequate protection and enhancement of this great City asset.

Ceasar Mitchell

As one of the authors of the legislation that created the Beltline I am committed to securing philanthropic support to keep the the Beltline in good condition. With all major investments, maintenance must be contemplated. I am will be willing to explore options to create a designated funding source for maintenance that is a hybrid of private-partnerships and city funding. In 2015, Council created a maintenance account for the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond, where 3.5% of bond proceeds are set aside in increments to address maintenance of bond projects. I am interested in exploring whether a similar funding account could be set up for maintenance for the Beltline.

Q10. What would you do in your first 100 days as Mayor to preserve and maintain the City’s parks and greenspaces?

Peter Aman

Having worked with two mayors – once as a pro bono consultant and the other as the city’s COO– I know what it takes to hit the ground running to ensure there are no gaps in service all while putting forth a plan to advance Atlanta. In my first 100 days I will continue ongoing park maintenance, address urgent short term needs, investigate our current condition, and start to put together a strategic development plan including the formation of a new task force. While we move forward on new initiatives and expansions, we cannot abandon what we have now. I will continue current maintenance programs and address any urgent infrastructure needs that appear until a new, fully constructed parks plan is available.

The first step to creating this new plan for our city parks and greenspace is to assess our current financial state. I will request a formal audit of our parks and greenspace services so we know where our money is going. The next step is to develop a special task force to investigate our current park system’s successes and failures and make recommendations based off their findings. I will also ask for input and recommendations from community members, non-profits organizations, APS, and other local governments. With an understanding of our current spending and informed recommendations about how we should move forward, I will oversee the development of a new strategic park maintenance and expansion plan.

I commit to requesting a formal audit, and convening a special research task force within my first 100 days. The creation of a new parks development strategy will take more than these three months. But, the sooner we begin this process, the sooner we can act on its recommendations and enter a new chapter for Atlanta’s parks and greenspace.

Al Bartell

I would initiate a working group to establish the City of Atlanta Department of Environment.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

I will conduct a walking audit, as well as solicit input from public and private stakeholders.

John Eaves

As stated earlier, among my first actions as Mayor would be conducting a full assessment and evaluation of all City of Atlanta departments, programs, and services, which will include parks and green space.

Mary Norwood

  • Create a Parks Advisory Task Force.
  • Implement and populate the Parks Foundation.
  • Make sure that ATL Stats relating to Parks are easily accessible and widely distributed.
  • Review Operating Agreements and MOU’s with all Conservancies and Friends of the Parks groups in conjunction with Park Pride.

Cathy Woolard

I will audit the City’s current and projected revenue and budget to ensure that our expenditures and budget reflect our priorities for a world-class, sustainable city that is committed to moving the dial productively on income inequality and equity in every quadrant of the city. Parks, recreation and greenspace have a prominent role in that vision. My first budget will clearly reflect the shift in priorities.

I’ll convene the Task Force on Parks and Greenspace as well as receive and review the results of the Tree Commission and look for quick wins to show movement and commitment to these issues. I’ll ensure in my selection of staff for all related departments including Watershed, Parks and Rec, Resiliency and Sustainability and the new Chief Equity officer clearly reflect these goals and bring world-class experience and diversity to the table.

Kwanza Hall

My commitment “to preserve and maintain the City’s parks and greenspaces” will not start once I am Mayor. That commitment has been part of my City Council work from the start and it will last years beyond my first 100 days in office.

I will bring City resources to this task in the most cost-effective way. Effectiveness and efficiency will be the hallmarks of every initiative we undertake.

And in everything, we will look not just to the physical improvements we can bring to the city but also to human capital improvements. And whenever possible marry the two. In that regard, one of my key aspirations is to develop a program like Detroit’s, that offers free tuition to a 2-year college in collaboration with an Americorp-type community service program for students through departments in our city like Parks & Rec, Cultural Affairs, Watershed, Planning & Public Works.

Ceasar Mitchell

To preserve and maintain the city’s parks and greenspaces, in my first 100 days as Mayor, I will convene a new Parks and Greenspace Task Force to develop recommendations on creating a world class, state-of-the-art parks and greenspace system. Additionally, I will evaluate all of our city parks and greenspaces to determine if maximum acreage is being achieved and to assess whether parks are being properly maintained properly/in great condition. Lastly, I will convene a survey of city land to determine if additional parks can be created within the city. Every neighborhood should be located within a 20-minute walk of a city park.


Q11. The city of Atlanta relies on Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River for high quality drinking water. And, when completed, the Bellwood Quarry will provide 30-days of emergency water supply for the city. What can the city do to cultivate a “culture of conservation” to ensure the city’s water supply, wastewater, and storm water management are resilient?

Peter Aman

Atlanta is not in an ideal geographic location for water supply. The Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier are not deep nor large enough for a region growing at Atlanta’s rate. The Bellwood Quarry project is a step forward, but a 30-day emergency water supply is still not much for a city of our size.

Unfortunately, there is no silver-bullet to solving our water supply and wastewater management challenges. As mayor, I will launch initiatives in conservation, infrastructure, and public education to provide sustainable and safe water services. We must conserve water through a sustainable stormwater system. This will involve storm water conservation, as well as improving our wastewater and stormwater pipes, which are at 80 percent capacity on a normal day. This makes our city vulnerable to overflow, a dangerous health hazard. In fact, this recently led to a boil water advisory in parts of the city, including the Old Fourth Ward, where my campaign is headquartered.

Educating the public about best practices and individual responsibility will also be essential for our conservation efforts. For example, low flow toilets reduce water usage by 40 percent, and the city can play a role in encouraging the installation of these utilities. This is an area where we can work across departments and city agencies. Additionally, we should reexamine the building code to find areas where new technologies should be used to increase conservation.

As your previous city Chief Operating Officer, I have the unique knowledge and experience to coordinate these intersecting proposals and the different government agencies that will be involved.

Al Bartell

What the city can do to cultivate a “culture of conservation” is to redesign its communication strategies to the public.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

The engagement of young people is key. I will work with the schools, YMCA, Girls and Boys Club, churches, etc. to create an in-depth conservation education program geared towards children. Quite often, genuine concern and messaging from our children resonates “up” to adults in a much more meaningful way.

John Eaves

During my tenure as Chairman of Fulton County, we have had a terrific program that involves elementary-school children through high-school-aged young people promoting conservation and clean water. I believe we can echo this success at the city. When our kids talk about conservation and other critical issues, people tend to listen and take note. It’s worked for the County, it will work at the City. Kids can be central in the effort to conserve our natural resources.

Mary Norwood

A park with water features will be a welcome addition to the Quarry project. While the Park plan has been developed. It will promote storm water management and the value of clean water as a park amenity.

Cathy Woolard

First and foremost is awareness. We cannot expect our City to have a culture of conservation without being educated on the realities of water demand and supply in Atlanta. We will work with the appropriate Departments to create that on-going awareness campaign to help our citizens understand the magnitude of the situation. A solid partnership with APS would be beneficial as well. Educating our young people about conservation of natural resources is in our best interest.

We can also continue efforts to assist low income and elderly residents update toilets, showers and tubs to water conserving products. We can work with the businesses and multi-family housing owners to help us hit aggressive conservation metrics. And in every case, City Hall must set the example by implementing the culture of conservation into every department, every facility and every project. With at least 7 colleges, universities and technical schools in Atlanta, we can be a living laboratory for studying new technologies and even methodologies which change human behavior in an urban environment and create new jobs and save money while we are doing it.

We’ve made progress on our water resource management system but it’s time to put a greater emphasis on being prepared for the future. Bellwood Quarry will help improve our emergency water provisions. But further investments in updating our facilities and practices will help us have the world-class system we need and deserve.

Kwanza Hall

In recent years, our water and sewer rates have prompted a “culture of water conservation” and our next step must be to develop a communications strategy to expand that “culture of conservation” to overall energy related consumption.  In that effort, we will seek to make water and energy conservation “cool.”  I think that the participation of celebrities like Killer Mike would be a great asset for this communications effort, and one that we will seek to involve in our education campaign.

Ceasar Mitchell

To cultivate a culture of conservation of the city’s water supply, it is important that the city develop a strong education/outreach program to educate residents on the importance of conserving water and the effects of water waste. To create a successful program, the city will need to include nonprofits and community organizations to bring awareness and increase engagement. Lastly, the city will need to implement an incentive program that provides monetary benefits or credits for residents who abide by the conservation program. 


Q12. The city of Atlanta holds the permit to the largest wastewater treatment facilities in the southeast, but does not treat its effluent to the highest quality for return into the Chattahoochee River. Will your administration invest in the health of our river and upgrade its wastewater treatment capabilities to current technological standards?

Peter Aman

I will absolutely invest in improving our wastewater treatment services. A city should be concerned with the health and safety of all its residents, and this goes to the very core of that issue. Research done in 2012 by GreenLaw found that Metro Atlanta “areas with a minority population 50 percent or higher have more than doubled the number of pollution sources than areas where minorities make up less than 10 percent of the population.” A study published in 2000 by a Clark University professor found that 82.8 percent of the city’s black population relative to 60.2 percent of our white population live in waste site areas. It is unacceptable that the location of our wastewater treatment facilities and its effluent disproportionately harms our minority and underprivileged population.

As mayor, I will use intentional zoning procedures and improve infrastructure to ensure that our minority and poor neighborhoods are treated with deference and respect. In addition to addressing the condition of our wastewater treatment facilities, city planning and a zoning ordinance should be designed to mitigate all environmental impacts—traffic, noise, odor, chemical, pollutants—on nearby communities. Health should not be dependent upon our skin color or economic class, and our zoning ordinance can be an effective tool to untangle past discrimination and ensure environmental justice.

Al Bartell

Yes, my administration will invest in the health of the Chattahoochee River and upgrade its wastewater treatment capabilities to current technological standards by implementing a system based on current environmental data rather than failed political marketing strategies.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Yes.

John Eaves

As the leader of the largest local government in Georgia, I co-authored a resolution to support “Chattahoochee Now,” which is an intergovernmental initiative that partners with the private sector to protect the Chattahoochee River for the entirety of Fulton County from north to south. The Chattahoochee River is the primary source of water in Atlanta, and it should be protected and it WILL BE PROTECTED when I am Mayor.

Mary Norwood

It will promote storm water management and the value of clean water as a park amenity.

Released Treated effluent should be of the highest quality. As upgrades to the facilities are made, my administration is committed to incorporating the latest technology, such as membranes, to provide clean water downstream.

Cathy Woolard

We have so much work to do to ensure that we are preserving and protecting our water reserves. And we want to uphold the highest standards we can achieve. Most people think infrastructure is not sexy, but I think it is. We must invest in both high tech and low-tech solutions to ensure that our commitment to sustainability is a key pillar in everything we do. We want our sports teams to be number 1, but often settle for less on things that are much more important. Some ideas that we must implement as soon as possible include:

  • Pharma Collection programs to keep pharmaceuticals out of our water.
    • Invest in green areas and technologies that will help us manage storm-water; including new policies requiring development projects to slow run-off, promote green infrastructure and reduce run-off.
    • Invest in nutrient (methane and phosphorus) recovery from our wastewater system and generate revenue at the same time.
    • Pilot water hubs in the city that will turn waste water into water that can be used for non-potable purposes.

We must also provide true accountability for the progress being made separating our sewer system and upgrading our pipes and plants. We’ve had a penny sales tax for over 10 years and have spent over a billion by now. It’s not clear to the public how far we’ve gotten and where we are going. We need money to address our increasing storm-water run-off and we are leveraged to the hilt so solving that issue is very important to our sustainability in the truest sense of the word.

Kwanza Hall

As I understand it, Atlanta is currently meeting regulatory standards for discharge of treated effluent into the Chattahoochee.  Nevertheless, ideally, we would be discharging effluent treated to the “highest quality” possible.  To that end, I will ask the Watershed Management experts to work with stakeholders to evaluate the costs and benefits of developing that capacity and to recommend a course of action.

Ceasar Mitchell

Yes, my administration will invest in the health of the city’s river and upgrade its wastewater treatment capabilities to current technological standards. It is extremely important that we accurately treat our wastewater and its effluent, while also ensuring proper disposal that guards against contamination.




Mayoral Candidate Responses (PDF)

Peter Aman

Al Bartell

Keisha Lance Bottoms

John Eaves

Kwanza Hall

Ceasar Mitchell

Mary Norwood

Cathy Woolard

 

 

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