What happened in a special Buckhead Community Improvement District meeting to discuss who’s in charge of the proposed park over Ga. 400?Meeting minutes released only after Reporter requests have little to say, and CID Executive Director Jim Durrett says no further information will ever be given.
Meanwhile, the CID is forming a private “stakeholder” committee, whose membership is not open to the public, to form a nonprofit that would create the park.
The CID held the special called meeting in response to requests from board members Robin Suggs, a representative of the Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls, and Howard Shook, the District 7 city councilmember. They said they felt the board needed to have more discussion about the park.
Suggs has not responded to requests for infomration about the meeting. Shook said they discussed that David Allman, the board chairman who represents Regents Partners, and Thad Ellis, the vice-chairman who represents Cousins Properties, will fund the steering committee.
“It seemed reasonable for some of the property owners who will benefit from the park to help with the effort,” Allman said. Ellis did not return a request for comment.
Shook said even after the meeting he still has questions and concerns about the funding sources for the park’s construction.
The Sept. 19 special CID board meeting, referred to as a retreat, was advertised only in the Fulton County Daily Report, the county’s official legal organ, while other meetings are advertised on the CID’s official website and emails. No members of the media were invited to the meeting, and Durrett previously said they would have been asked to leave if they had attended.
The minutes from the meeting were posted on the CID’s website Oct. 2 after the Reporter asked about the minutes, then removed sometime during the following week, which Jim Durrett, the executive director, said may be due to construction of the organization’s new website. The minutes were posted again on the website Oct. 11 after a question from the Reporter.
Minutes from meetings are required by the state’s Open Records law to be posted by the next meeting, which was the Sept. 27 board meeting. The CID generally follows the guidelines of the Open Records law.
The only reference to the park over Ga. 400 in the meeting minutes says, “Jim Durrett and the board discussed where the CID is in the process of wrapping up the work and transitioning to the implementation stage with others taking the lead.”
In response to questions from the Reporter, Durrett said that no more information will be released about the meeting.
The CID is in the process of creating a steering committee to build a nonprofit that will manage the park and raise funds for its construction. Some core members have been determined, but not announced publicly, and the CID aims to have the steering committee members finalized by the end of October.
“The members are being selected for civic involvement and business involvement,” Durrett said.
The steering committee will provide advice and feedback on how the CID should move forward with the park and how the nonprofit will be run. The CID is in the process of submitting paperwork to register the nonprofit with the state.
Durrett said he does not know yet how or if residents will be able to apply to be involved with the nonprofit because that process will be determined by the steering committee. Residents can not apply to be a part of the steering committee, Durrett said.
The CID “will not be making decisions” about the nonprofit, but one person from the CID will be on the steering committee “to keep some continuity,” Durrett said.
The park was not the only topic discussed at the special called meeting. The minutes provided new details on which “BUCKHEAD REdeFINED” master plan projects the CID plans to fund or support.
The board determined they would provide funding support for Ga. 400 interchange improvements, which includes further study on the Lenox Road interchange and a possible new interchange at East Paces Ferry Road, and for the project that calls for Lenox Road improvements. The board also determined it will provide funding support for the proposed “Buckhead Cultural Loop Trail.”