Norwood, Dickens to intro legislation to resolve Adair Park school deed dispute

But will fellow councilmembers support the move?

Atlanta City Councilmembers Mary Norwood and Andre Dickens on Monday will introduce legislation asking Mayor Kasim Reed to transfer the deed to a vacant, dilapidated school building to Atlanta Public Schools, paving the way for the district to sell the property to a private developer.

Norwood tells CL she and Dickens will ask the mayor to transfer the deed to the former George Adair School in southwest Atlanta’s Adair Park to the APS board of education.

The deed is one of several that are still controlled by the city. APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says an October request to transfer the deed so the system can move forward with selling the circa 1911 building has been in limbo in part because of ongoing negotiations between the city and APS over payments related to the Atlanta Beltline.

Reed has said that he won’t transfer the deeds because they were part of a proposed deal to resolve the late payments, which now total roughly $13.5 million. He wants to continue working toward crafting a “global solution” to the contract dispute. APS leaders dispute this claim, saying the topic of deeds came up during negotiations, but only in the context of general issues that needed to be resolved between the city and APS.

Norwood says the city has transferred deeds to APS several times in the 2000s, when she previously served on Council. She says that multiple residents from Adair Park, Capitol View, and other neighborhoods asked her to help resolve the issue at a community meeting on Saturday. To her, transferring the deed now makes sense and helps the community.

“When I look at how much Council has been concerned about blight and dilapidated buildings — here’s a building that’s right at the Beltline and in Adair Park, it’s been vacant for years — and they have a buyer,” Norwood says. “And we have traditionally quitclaimed those. I thought it made sense to do.”

Dickens was not immediately available for comment. Norwood says that she has not discussed the proposal with the mayor. She says the mayor had to leave an executive session about the issue that was held earlier today before Norwood and Dickens were able to ask questions.

The key question now is whether Norwood and Dickens have support from fellow councilmembers to pass the measure. And whether the mayor will support the move. We reached out to his spokespersons for comment and will update if we hear back.