DeKalb soccer complex approved by BOC

Rep. Scott Holcomb

What happened yesterday:

The Board of Commissioners held a special meeting in which they approved a Memorandum of Understanding for an incentive package for Atlanta United Football Club, a professional soccer team owned by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, to build a $30 million soccer complex along Interstate 285 near Memorial Drive. Atlanta United will build a 3,500-seat stadium, three practice fields and a two-story team headquarters behind the DeKalb Jail. An indoor training facility and additional fields may be built later. DeKalb has committed to spend $7 million for 6,000 square feet of office space and $5 million for land preparation. Atlanta United will be able to use the land without having to pay property taxes for 30 years before it reverts back to the county.

The vote was 4-3, with Commissioners Larry Johnson, Mereda Davis Johnson, Sharon Barnes Sutton and Stan Watson voting in favor of the deal, and Commissioners Kathie Gannon, Nancy Jester and Jeff Rader voting against it.

Public input was not allowed, although quite a few members of the public were in attendance and requested the opportunity to speak. The Commissioners who ultimately voted against the proposal were in favor of allowing public input, but were outvoted.

Read the story here:

What is problematic about this?

I have several concerns. First, the process was not transparent. While it may have been necessary to negotiate the deal in secret, the Commissioners and the public should have been allowed to participate in an open discussion of the merits of the deal. Second, I am concerned that the deal may not be fair to DeKalb County, and may be costing the taxpayers more than it should. Further, the nature of the site and its proximity to a nonconforming landfill may entail greater expenses than planned. Only through a careful analysis can this determination be made.

What can you do?

There are five regular county commission districts and two large superdistricts. You are represented by two county commissioners, one for your regular district, and one for your superdistrict. If you don't already know who either or both of your commissioners are, you can go here to look find out: If you have concerns about today's decision, you can write to your commissioners to express your concerns.

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