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Alison Guillory / WABE

Neighborhoods on Atlanta’s Westside are changing. Mercedes-Benz Stadium construction is wrapping up; the BeltLine is coming. And what has been a blighted creek could eventually become an amenity. But some residents are concerned that efforts to fix Proctor Creek could eventually price them out.

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.

A raised flower bed in Mattie Freeland Park, with the words 'We Are Better Together' painted on the side.
Molly Samuel / WABE

The Atlanta neighborhood of English Avenue doesn't have many parks, but there's one that a community got together and built themselves in honor of a local resident who was like a grandmother to her neighbors.

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Mattie Freeland was the kind of woman who always shared her food and checked in on people, say people who knew her. They called her "Miss Mattie." She passed away several years ago, but the park that’s grown next door to her house was sort of her idea.

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.

Closer Look: Coretta Scott King; 'Fences'; And More

Jan 24, 2017
Toby Massey / Associated Press

Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

The Christian nonprofit City of Refuge, based in Atlanta's Westside, will receive $7.5 million in funding for emergency housing, job training, health services and youth development programs for Atlanta residents.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola and the city of Atlanta announced a $7.5 million donation to a nonprofit that provides job training in Westside Atlanta.

The City of Refuge is a Christian organization that helps residents with jobs, youth development, emergency housing and health care access.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made the largest investment so far in the group's $25.5 million capital campaign.

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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.

Alison Guillory / WABE

From its headwaters near the Georgia Dome and the Atlanta University Center to where it empties into the Chattahoochee River near the Perimeter, all of Proctor Creek is inside the city of Atlanta. And city life can be hard on a creek: Big storms make it flood; sewers overflow into it; there’s illegal dumping; and when it rains, the water running off the roads carries trash and chemicals into the creek.

Lauren Waits / WABE

It’s been about a year since Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and a group of area CEOs created the Westside Future Fund, an organization designed to revitalize Atlanta's most challenged communities. 

Quince T. Brinkley Jr., the new executive director of the Westside Future Fund, discussed on “A Closer Look,” his plan to interact with the community before possibly revitalizing Atlanta’s west side neighborhoods.    

Bellwood Quarry sits west of Midtown Atlanta.
City of Atlanta

Eventually Bellwood Quarry will be big. Right now, it’s 300 acres of woods and trash, plus the quarry itself. But the plan is for it to be a huge new park on Atlanta’s Westside, and the committee dedicated to redeveloping the site will start meeting next year.

City councilman Michael Julian Bond formed the committee. He said the park will be a place to hold big concerts and festivals. There’s a creek running through it, forests and great views.

“I run into people every day that ask me what’s going on at that site,” Bond said. “They’re ready for a new park.”