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Vine City

Alison Guillory / WABE

Proctor Creek has been a problem for residents of 35 northwest Atlanta neighborhoods for a long time. It’s polluted. It floods.

That’s changing, though. 

Billions of dollars' worth of upgrades to the city's sewer system and plans for a series of parks address the long-running issues with the creek. 

Alison Guillory / WABE

There’s a polluted waterway that runs from downtown Atlanta to the Chattahoochee River. It’s called Proctor Creek.

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For decades, it’s caused problems for people who live near it.  Now, there’s a lot more attention on the future of the creek, and neighborhoods on the Westside.

This is part of a continuing series about Proctor Creek that airs on "Morning Edition" with WABE host Denis O'Hayer.

Conceptual rendering by HDR, Inc. courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

Atlanta broke ground Friday on a big new park, just west of downtown. Cook Park, in Vine City, will have statues honoring Civil Rights leaders. It’s also being built to alleviate flooding on the Westside.

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the park will be a new Atlanta landmark.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Some fish that live in one of Atlanta's creeks, a tributary to the Chattahoochee River, have elevated levels of chemicals in their bodies, including pesticides that went out of use in the 1980s.

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Proctor Creek, on Atlanta’s Westside, has had issues with e. coli and fecal coliform bacteria caused by sewer overflows, but a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents man-made toxic chemicals in fish caught at a fishing spot in Bankhead, near Maddox Park.

Conceptual rendering by HDR, Inc. courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

The Atlanta neighborhood of Vine City, just west of the new Falcons stadium, is getting a new park.

It will have fountains, a playground and an open lawn. There will be statues honoring Civil Rights leaders with connections to the neighborhood, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Julian Bond. The park will also help address flooding issues that have plagued the area for years.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

This spring, Atlanta will start work to recreate a historic park on the city’s Westside. Local officials have high hopes for the new space, that it could even become a tourist attraction.

But the proposed park recently got caught up in Atlanta’s complicated past.

Civil Rights And Peace

In Vine City, just a mile from the new Falcons stadium, is a wide open field. There’s not much to look at, other than some trees and boarded-up apartments off to the side.

But Rodney Mims Cook Jr. has big plans to change that.

YMCA of Metro Atlanta

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta, the oldest nonprofit in the city, is leaving its home of more than 40 years in downtown Atlanta to go to the Westside. It is buying Jordan Hall with plans to demolish the building to build a Leadership and Learning Center that will offer early learning opportunities to Vine City.

Ed Munster describes the YMCA as an organization that’s not just for the young, not just for men and not just for Christians. It is an organization that serves everyone: young and old, men and women regardless of their faith.

Courtesy of National Monuments Foundation

A years-long effort to recreate a historic park on Atlanta's Westside is facing pushback.

Mims Park was originally named after Livingston Mims, the 37th mayor of Atlanta and a Confederate soldier. Mims donated the land.

Eventually, though, that park on Northside Drive was developed over by an elementary school. And for years, Mims' distant nephew Rodney Mims Cook Jr. has pushed to build it again.

That plan is finally moving forward for a 16-acre site south of Joseph E. Boone Boulevard. The city of Atlanta recently called it a "catalyst for economic development."

Boarded-up houses and kudzo covered houses are a common sight in the English Ave and Vine City communities
Alison Guillory / WABE

 A new research paper is sounding the alarm over rising rents on Atlanta’s west side, where the BeltLine is slated for paving.

Dan Immergluck, professor of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, wrote the paper. Its bottom line: Affordable housing on Atlanta’s west side should be established now, before land values and property taxes rise any higher.

Construction cranes over the new Falcons Stadium: precursors to a changing neighborhood?
Kate Sweeney / WABE

  The Atlanta BeltLine has led to a lot of rapid development on Atlanta’s east side, and that development has led to soaring property values.

That’s something some Westside residents have watched with apprehension — and one grassroots group has quietly spent the past six years, getting ready, with a unique strategy.

Third-Generation Vine City

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
David Goldman / Associated Press

When the Super Bowl comes to Atlanta, it will take place in one of the greenest stadiums in the country, and builders aren’t just focusing on efficient appliances and solar panels – though Mercedes-Benz Stadium will have those.

“[It’s] going to be the most water-efficient stadium in the United States,” said William Johnson, interim commissioner of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management, at the U.S. Water Alliance summit in Atlanta Thursday.  

The stadium is being built in a way that could help nearby west Atlanta neighborhoods with long-running flooding issues.

Keizers via Wikimedia Commons

Some neighborhoods on Atlanta’s Westside could see an economic boost thanks to a new designation from the Obama Administration.

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro announced today that an area including English Avenue, Vine City, West End and Ashview Heights has been chosen as a "promise zone."

Lisa Hagen / WABE

The city of Atlanta is moving forward with plans to build a pond and improve Mims Park in Vine City.

It's an early step in a $50 million plan meant to revitalize an area that's been plagued by crime and blight, but some residents worry the improvements could mean getting priced out, down the line.

On Thursday, the city’s watershed department updated residents on design plans for a pond in Mims Park. They asked residents to pin suggestions to a clothesline they'd set up.

U.S. Attorney for the North District of Georgia, John Horn, said Mexican cartels are distributing heroin using its established drug distribution networks in the city of Atlanta, North Fulton and increasingly northern counties of Georgia.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

A new report finds that heroin-related overdoses and deaths are rising dramatically in Fulton County.

Atlanta police, politicians and community leaders gathered Friday at Lindsay Street Baptist Church in the neighborhood long known as "the Bluff," at what they say is the epicenter of an emerging heroin epidemic.

In 2010, four people died from heroin overdoses in Fulton County. In 2015, 82 people died. 

Candace Wheeler / WABE

 Lindsay Street Park has opened in Atlanta.

It is the first park in the city's troubled English Avenue neighborhood.

"We have a mission to expand green space throughout the city of Atlanta and to place a park as close to all of the citizens of Atlanta as we can," said Mayor Kasim Reed.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Just off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Atlanta’s Vine city neighborhood, there’s a home with a blue sign on the front that reads "Georgia Pool Checkers Association." 

For nearly 50 years, it has been a meeting place for African-American men around Atlanta who play a game called "pool checkers."

While the club doesn’t have as many members as it once did, you’ll still find a handful of men there just about every afternoon, battling it out over a checker board.

Perhaps no other place in the region is plagued with more blight than west Atlanta’s English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods.

Frustrated homeowners hope a new proposal could be a solution.

Far from improving, English Avenue resident Emily Hayden is seeing the neighborhood fall further into disrepair.

“It’s getting increasingly violent. We’ve actually had a bullet come through the wall of our home. I have two young children and I run a daycare here.”

Chris Ferguson/WABE News

Many West Atlanta residents are cautiously optimistic about the city’s bid to buy most of Morris Brown College, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012. They believe the city will do its best to protect the legacy of the historically black college. However, several residents are less trusting about the city's intentions.

Michell Eloy / WABE

A motion filed earlier this week by the City of Atlanta and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens could speed up a lawsuit over the financing of the new Falcons Stadium that's scheduled for a hearing Thursday.

The city and state have filed a motion before Fulton County Superior Court judge Ural Glanville, asking him to issue a show cause order at a bond hearing Thursday for a small group of Atlantans who’ve challenged the stadium’s financing plan.

Keizers via Wikimedia Commons

An official plan to help revitalize the struggling neighborhoods surrounding the proposed new Atlanta Falcons stadium cleared its last legislative hurdle Monday night, paving the way for stadium construction to begin as planned.

The hotly debated community benefits plan came up on the agenda a few hours into the meeting, the City Council's last of the year.

At-Large Councilman Michael Julian Bond grew up in west Atlanta near the proposed stadium and spoke about the area.

Charles Edwards / WABE News

This afternoon, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved a plan to invest $30 million in three West Atlanta communities where the Atlanta Falcons will build a new stadium.

Today’s vote comes after a city council committee last week approved the plan, which was hotly debated for months by a special committee of city officials and neighborhood groups.

City of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed wants the community benefits process related to the new Atlanta Falcons stadium wrapped up by the end of the year, despite protests from neighborhood leaders and City Council President Ceasar Mitchell.   

Since July, the city and the neighborhoods have worked on a formal plan to revitalize the west Atlanta area. The plan must be complete before $200 million in city funds can go to help build the new stadium.

Reed wants the plan done so his staff can move on and construction can begin on time.

Tensions Erupt At Falcons Stadium Impact Meeting

Nov 20, 2013

Simmering tensions exploded Wednesday night between Atlanta city officials and representatives of the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

For months, the two parties have worked to develop a plan to divvy up millions in community redevelopment money. The process must be completed before $200 million in city funds can be channeled to the team to help build the new stadium.

Michelle Chatman

The Atlanta City Council has now voted to approve the deal between Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Falcons, for a new downtown stadium for the team.

Part of the agreement for the $1 billion project calls for improvements to the struggling neighborhoods near the Georgia Dome, where the new stadium will be built.  

To find out some of what the communities want from the project, WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Yvonne Jones, the chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit L (NPU-L), the citizens advisory council that represents the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods.

Who Wants Wal-Mart?

Mar 12, 2012

Whenever Wal-Mart wants to put one of its store in an urban area, there’s usually push back from the community. Right now, residents in two Georgia cities aren’t exactly welcoming Wal-Mart with open arms. That’s not the case in west Atlanta.

The shell of a former Publix stands on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood. In January, the more than 73,000 square foot space will be a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Company, city and county officials broke ground on the store today.