The Atlanta Public School Board of Education voted on Monday to sell three surplus properties, but Mayor Reed – who holds the deed to one of the properties – is refusing to turn the deed over to APS. Without the deed, the property sale cannot be completed.
The AJC reported,
…Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says Mayor Kasim Reed is blocking the district’s ability to sell surplus property. …But Reed’s administration has so far refused to turn over a deed to a long-shuttered school in Adair Park, Carstarphen told the school board on Monday night.
Pullman Historic Development is under contract to buy the former elementary school in Southwest Atlanta for $412,000, with plans to convert it into a live-work rental development. The property has sat vacant for decades, Carstarphen said.
“I can’t close a deal if I don’t have the deed,” Carstarphen said. “I am deadly serious about this job. I want the very best for our kids. I need every obstacle moved out of my way to have it done.”
The AJC contacted the Mayor’s office and received conflicting answers,
… the mayor’s spokeswoman, said that some of the vacant properties are the subject of negotiations between the city and APS in an ongoing dispute over millions the city owes in connection with the Beltline. Atlanta has the deeds because the school district was once under the city’s purview. Torres said the mayor is reviewing APS’s request, which was initially made in October.
That’s in conflict with an email Atlanta’s real estate director John Lavelle sent APS last week. According to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lavelle wrote: “I regret to tell you I have been informed by the administration that it will not consider the matter of the proposed quit-claim deeds at this time.” [emphasis added]
It is clear that Reed is using the property deed as additional leverage in the ongoing dispute over the amounts owed by the Beltline to APS. However, his action hurts not only APS, but the local community as well. The AJC further reports that,
Selling the properties is important not just for APS’s bottom line, but for communities who have long lived with abandoned buildings that have become “eye sores “ and “dangerous sites,” [Carstarphen] said. I’m not able to do what I have to do because we are at the mercy of another entity,” Carstarphen said on Monday.
It is also interesting to note that the Board of Education spent a long time in Executive Session considering “pending litigation” this past Monday. The Board should come out forcefully with immediate action against Reed to recover all the property deeds that are rightfully owned by APS.
Mayor Reed’s actions in the Beltline dispute have now gone from irresponsible to a petty personal grievance. Every parent with a child at APS should flood his office with the outrage this action deserves. His email and phone number are firstname.lastname@example.org and (404) 330-6100.
It is time to heap the scorn on him that he so richly deserves for his handling of both of these matters.