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Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization transfers $20k to Bessie Branham Renewal fund

Crime and public safety Kirkwood and East Lake

Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization transfers $20k to Bessie Branham Renewal fund

Bessie Branham Park Recreation Center. Kirkwood. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Atlanta, GA — The Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization (KNO) met via Zoom on Monday, July 10, at 7 p.m. for their monthly meeting and approved a transfer of money to the Bessie Branham Renewal fund. 

During the meeting, Environmental Committee Chair Earl Williamson asked KNO members to support an early fund transfer to the organization’s Bessie Branham Park Renewal fund. They voted to approve the transfer now.

For context, Williamson shared, “Toward the end of last year, KNO contributed $20,000 to the Bessie Branham Park Renewal process, and that it was going to be followed this year with another $20,000.”

“Rather than do that at the end of the year, we’ve requested that the $20,000 for this year be shifted now so it makes our Branham Park Renewal funding picture look better when we apply for stuff,” Williamson added. “We don’t intend to use the money any time in the immediate future. It’s mainly to make it look like the project has legs, for lack of a better way of putting it.”

When the item was opened up for discussion before voting, one KNO member asked if, “there’s a risk that it doesn’t ‘have legs,’” and what would happen to funding that gets earmarked now if something should happen to the project.

“The process with KNO has always been that if a project tanks, the money goes back to the KNO or to the original contributor…We don’t sit on it,” Williamson said.

In other KNO business:

— During a bad windstorm on June 26, 2023, the Clay Cemetery took a big hit. KNO members voted to approve the ask from the environmental committee for $3,000 to partially cover some of the repair costs.

“We lost most of one tree, 50 feet of fence, Georgia Power lost the entire line in front of the cemetery,” Williamson said.

“The tree will be taken down to 15 to 20 feet, leaving the trunk as bird and animal habitat, which is our usual practice in the cemetery,” he added.

The $3,000 will go toward tree removal as well as replacing the damaged 50 feet of the fence.

And KNO isn’t the only group contributing money.

“Clay Cemetery Preservation is putting $2,000 in the mix,” Williamson said. “We’ve partnered with Georgia Power, who will be removing everything near the lines for free. And we’ve gotten some excellent estimates from our usual arborists.”

— About a month ago, the Atlanta City Council voted to move ahead with the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center – also referred to as ‘Cop City’ – which sparked a campaign for a referendum by Atlanta activists.

On June 21, the “Cop City Vote” petition was approved by the city clerk. KNO member Katie Kissel spoke during the meeting to give a brief overview of the purpose of the petition.

“The petition that is circulating currently is a petition for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot,” Kissel said. “We will have an election this year for our school board, so this will be placed on that same ballot where you go to vote for school board.

“Essentially, the referendum we’re asking to be placed on there is whether or not we would revoke the lease to the Atlanta Police Foundation for the land.”

There are a few requirements for those interested in signing the petition:

— You must sign it in person.

— You must be a current City of Atlanta resident.

— You must be a registered voter currently. You also must have been a registered voter on October 4, 2021.

The petition needs a total of 70,000 signatures by August 14, 2023.

To learn more about the petition and where to sign it, go to: https://www.copcityvote.com/petition.

— District 5 Policy Director Patrick Husbands joined the meeting to deliver several budget updates from Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari’s office, which took effect on July 1, 2023.

They secured a $12 million increase in Department of Transportation (DOT) funding, which will help address resurfacing needs in the city, Husbands said. He added that general DOT funds are not currently going to resurfacing projects, since they have typically been funded by T-SPLOST projects or small amounts of grant money.

In addition, they secured additional funding for 911 responders. Husbands added, “It’s kind of shameful, but people reach out saying that they called 911 and couldn’t get anyone to answer sometimes.”

Code enforcement officers will see more money, too.

“We’re excited to give code enforcement officers pay increases. They were all making criminally low amounts of money for what they do,” Husbands said. “We actually have a really small team – only seven or eight people at any given time – so this should help us increase the number of code enforcement officers on staff.”

— Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is offering free backpacks, school supplies, and resources for APS students and families at their Back-to-School Bash on July 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Held in Halls C1 and C2 of the Georgia World Congress Center, located at 285 Andrew Young International Blvd in Atlanta.

Pre-registration closes this Friday, July 14. There will also be onsite registration available on the day of the event.

Learn more about the event and register here: https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/bash.

As part of the District 3 Concert Series, Commissioner Larry Johnson’s office is hosting a “Back To School Jam” on August 5, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Head over to Rainbow Park Amphitheater, located at 3181 Rainbow Drive in Greater Decatur for free back-to-school gear, free live music, and food vendors.

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