ATLANTA (AP) – Atlanta’s mayor has vetoed a proposal that would have let the state permanently close part of a street between the Georgia Capitol and a legislative office building.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wrote in a letter that the city’s charter prohibits individual City Council members from negotiating with the state on behalf of the city, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. She also wrote that the council failed to give proper public notice before voting to abandon the one-block stretch of Mitchell Street just east of Atlanta City Hall.
Council Member Michael Bond had said he had worked out a deal to let the state close the block of Mitchell Street to enhance security at the Capitol in exchange for sidewalk and safety improvements along a state-owned road on the northwest side of Atlanta.
The 15-member council voted 12-1 to approve the ordinance and could override Bottoms’ veto with a two-thirds supermajority.
The block has been closed for years during sessions of the General Assembly, in part because there is heavy pedestrian traffic back and forth between the Capitol and the Coverdale Legislative Office Building. But state officials have had a request pending for years that the city give up the block so the street can be permanently closed to enhance security. Traffic has been blocked off since racial injustice protests began in June.
Bottoms said she supports the $6 million in sidewalk and safety improvements to Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. A Georgia Department of Transportation spokesperson told the newspaper that safety improvements are already being scheduled.
Bond said he disagreed that he had done anything wrong by talking to the state. He said Bottoms has worked to raise the $6 million from private donors. Bond said the city getting involved would slow improvements, saying residents “are suffering over these endless arguments about technicalities and ego.”
Bottoms said abandoning the street would require the city to hold public hearings and notify the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and nearby Grady Memorial Hospital.
Gov. Brian Kemp and other officials agreed to spend $5 million in safety improvements at the Capitol after the summer, in part because the Republican governor has kept a detachment of National Guard soldiers activated to provide security at the cost of at least $200,000 a month.
Workers now are digging a trench to build the foundation for the 8-foot (2.5-meter) metal fence, which will have spikes on top.
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