Internal memo obtained by The Mainline shows police foundation\’s response to proposed amendments on training facility legislation

An internal document obtained by The Mainline on Mon., Aug. 16, shows Atlanta Police Foundation\’s response to new amendments introduced by Atlanta City Council on ground lease legislation for Cop City

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A yard sign posted in a neighborhood in unincorporated DeKalb County near an entrance to the Old Atlanta Prison Farm land on Key Road, where the Atlanta Police Department is seeking to build a new massive 150-acre/$90 million police training facility. Local residents and activists have mobilized in strong opposition for the legislation, which makes its way to the floor of Atlanta City Council for a full council vote on Mon., Aug. 16. Photo credit: Aja Arnold/The Mainline, 2021.

ATLANTA — An internal memo addressed to Atlanta City Council members dated on Aug. 15, 2021, shows the Atlanta Police Foundation\’s response to a request for additional amendments on the legislation that would authorize a ground lease between APF and the City of Atlanta for construction of a new police training facility. It has been confirmed that the memo is a response from APF.

The Mainline received the memo about an hour ahead of Monday\’s full council meeting, where council members are expected to vote on the legislation that would move forward plans for the new police training facility, which activists have nicknamed Cop City, in unincorporated DeKalb County. The legislation seeks to sell 381 acres of city-owned land known as the Old Atlanta Prison Farm to APF for $10 a year for a new police training facility with estimated costs of $90 million.

The legislation passed both the Public Safety and Legal Administration committee and the Finance Executive Committee last week. Councilmember Carla Smith was the only council member to vote against the ordinance, while Councilmember Jennifer Ide was absent on bereavement leave. During the Finance and Executive Committee on Wednesday, city council unanimously passed an amendment which would require council members to be able to receive and view the lease in full before moving forward with a vote. The memo shows that city council has since made requests for multiple amendments to the ground lease.

The memo reads, Attached please find a response to the request for additional amendments to the legislation and ground lease. The current amended legislation and ground lease reflects numerous updates and revisions which were made in conjunction with reviews by the Public Safety Committee and the Finance Committee, as well as the input of an extensive community engagement process.

The memo goes on to list the proposed amendments, which include:

  • A reduction of the PSTC [public safety training center] footprint from 150 acres to 85 acres
  • A designation of 265 acres of the City\’s full 3801 acres for available greenspace
  • A commitment by APF — specified in the ground lease — that construction will adhere to all local, state, and federal environmental regulations
  • The design — already modified per community input — will continue to have the input of a Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee during the final design and construction [sic]

The response adds that it is disappointing that these amendments were proposed at this point in the process. We have met directly with the Nature Conservancy leadership and many other groups during the process. At no point were these proposed amendments previously offered.

In previous interviews for our reporting, Deron Davis, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Georgia, has told us that their organization is explicitly opposed to the new police training facility being built on the Old Atlanta Prison Farm land.

We hope for your understanding of the importance in authorizing the ground lease on Monday, theAPF memo continues, as it is the necessary next step that will enable this project to receive donations, complete the final design work, and will send an important message to our public safety professionals that can support reducing crime by improving recruiting, retention, and training.

The APF communications office has not responded to our request for comment.

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