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Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization working to improve intersection of Rockyford Road, Emery Place

Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL

Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization working to improve intersection of Rockyford Road, Emery Place

The Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization met on Friday, Sept. 10, via Zoom to discuss improvements to the intersection of Rockyford Road and Emery Place, as well as Bessie Branham Park. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Atlanta, GA — Rockyford Road is set to see some improvements in October. The transportation committee of the Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization is working on a tactical urbanism project at the intersection of Rockyford Road and Emery Place. The committee is hosting a build day on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Transportation committee chair Rebecca Serna said at the June 10 KNO meeting that the sidewalk at the intersection ends suddenly and the committee proposed a plan to improve the walkability of the area.

“The transportation committee has heard from a lot of residents along this corridor and came up with a proposal to try to organize the space better and improve conditions for people that are walking, kids on bikes, people with strollers, people in wheelchairs by designating some space for people walking with…traffic barriers,” Serna said at the June meeting.

The project includes realigning the intersection, as it suddenly widens before a curve and there’s a speed table right after the curve. Drivers often take that curve too fast and end up in residents’ yards, Serna said.

The cost of the project is about $3,100 and the committee received a grant from the city of Atlanta Community Impact Fund that will offset the cost.

At the Sept. 10 meeting, transportation committee member Jack Cebe said they have submitted a permit application to the city of Atlanta, which is under review.

“We had a couple of meetings with them ahead of that, so they’re not reviewing it cold. They said we should expect to hear something back in a couple of weeks,” Cebe said. “So we will wait to hear back from them and in the meantime we are working to source and begin to purchase some of these materials for our scheduled build day which is Oct. 16.”

Volunteers are needed for the build day. Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to reach out to the transportation committee at [email protected].

— In other business, Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong gave an update on the city council’s vote on Wednesday, Sept. 8, to approve the police and fire training center proposal. A new police and fire training facility is expected to be built on forested land that is the former home to the old Atlanta police farm, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The project involves leasing 85 acres of city-owned land to the Atlanta Police Foundation for 50 years. The property is located east of the city limits in unincorporated DeKalb County.

The vote was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 7, but was delayed so the City Council could hear over 1,000 comments called in by residents. Most of the comments urged the City Council to vote against the plan, but acknowledge a new training center is necessary to combat concerns about crime, the AJC reported.

“After 17 hours of public comment at our marathon meeting that was a two-day meeting, Tuesday and Wednesday, a vote was taken on whether or not to locate a joint training facility for police and fire at an acreage that is owned by the city, but that is located in unincorporated DeKalb,” Archibong said at the KNO meeting.

She voted in opposition to the proposal, primarily due to the lack of public engagement and concerns about green space and environmental impacts. She also had a concern about a provision in the lease.

“It was a 50-year lease agreement that would allow the police foundation to build a joint training facility that would primarily be funded by philanthropic and tax credits and other ways that would not involve our general fund, but there is a provision in that lease agreement that would allow for the lease to be cancelled upon 180 days notice,” Archibong said.

She thought it prudent to allow a new administration and mayor to come into office because newly elected officials could immediately send notice of their intent to cancel the lease.

“So it seemed unfair to our men and women who serve and protect us to have this continuing uncertainty around what is definitely going to happen in the future,” Archibong said.

The other city council members whose districts touch DeKalb County joined Archibong in opposition to the training facility.

“[We opposed] not because we don’t support police and fire and not because we don’t agree because we all agree the existing facilities are inadequate. They’re in horrible condition,” Archibong said. “I just want to make sure that we don’t move ahead of our neighbors and that we do all the due diligence and that we are sure of a path forward on something of this magnitude.”

Archibong is also the chair of the utilities committee and said they will soon take action to address concerns and issues with the city’s public works department picking up yard waste.

“We are going to be considering, on Tuesday, legislation that will move $2 million to hire a private firm to come in to help,” Archibong said. “I, for one, am grateful for that. I hope that it will cause us to be able to meet the expectations of our citizens. The leaf falling season is upon us and so I just wanted to let you know that, fingers crossed, help is on the way with this situation.”

— The Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization is working on applying for grants through Park Pride, and other organizations, to get funding for much-needed improvements to Bessie Branham Park, KNO President Katie Kissel said.

“That park has really seen the lack of investment from city of Atlanta Parks Department,” Kissel said. “We want to get to it before it completely falls apart.”

The KNO will meet again on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

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