The Atlantic Drive substation, which is being constructed on a 1.5-acre site at the corner of 14th Street and Atlantic Drive, has been a contentious issue to some residents in the Home Park community since the idea was introduced in late 2008.
As development in the area, including around the nearby Atlantic Station mixed-use development, continues to grow and expand, the demand for electricity in the area will soon exceed Georgia Power’s capabilities to supply electric service from existing substations and distribution lines.
While some residents are not worried about the project, others have been concerned about the use of land for the substation, including the long-term impact it will have from both a commercial and residential perspective.
There are other concerns, too. Most of the discussions and community meetings between the Home Park Community Improvement Association (HPCIA) and Georgia Power occurred in 2011, when the neighborhood asked for concessions on the grounds that it was strongly opposed to the construction of a substation.
According to Dan Noyd, HPCIA president, Georgia Power initially indicated a willingness to negotiate and “be a good neighbor,” and asked the HPCIA to put its requests into a Community Benefit Agreement (CBA).
In November 2011, HPCIA sent a draft CBA, which is attached with this article, to Georgia Power requesting some concessions – primarily related to safety, security, maintenance, and the improvement of the Home Park neighborhood.
Noyd said the neighborhood expected there to be some negotiation, but to eventually reach an agreement with Georgia Power where both sides could be satisfied that they do share some element of concern for the neighborhood.
Five months later, in April 2012, Georgia Power responded with a rejection of the CBA, stating, “While we have closely evaluated all of the requested actions in the draft CBA, we are unable to accommodate all of the proposed requirements of the CBA or the need for the document itself.” (the letter is attached)
Of the requests in the CBA, the two most important ones in the view of the HPCIA were proposed security cameras on the substation property and the annual lighting assessment of the neighborhood. Home Park is home to many student renters who attend nearby Georgia Tech and pedestrian armed crime has become an issue there in recent years.
Wrote Noyd to Patch in an email, “Given that some of the key findings of the Atlanta City Council’s Task Force on Campus Safety were improved security and lighting in off-campus neighborhoods, it is particularly egregious that Georgia Power refuses to provide even basic security concessions when forcibly (despite all desires and planning efforts of the neighborhood) constructing a substation in the center of Home Park.”
Georgia Power Project Manager Tony Rogers wrote in his letter to the neighborhood last spring,
Since this project was announced, Georgia Power has worked with the HPCIA to improve the design of the substation, develop pedestrian-friendly frontage on 14th Street, implement landscape features to improve views of the substation, and finalize construction drawings which document these features for the future. We believe the Atlantic Station substation design reflects the input and inspiration of the HPCIA, and we believe the practices developed in the design and construction of this substation will be followed in years to come.
Efforts by Patch to gain further comment from Georgia Power were not successful at this time. The HPCIA has issued the following statement regarding the substation:
The Home Park Community Improvement Association is disappointed that Georgia Power has chosen not to work with the neighborhood to increase security within the community. After denying the request of the neighborhood to have even basic ongoing security provisions and maintenance programs in place, we can only assume that Georgia Power was interested solely in the construction of a “necessary” piece of corporate infrastructure.
The HPCIA and residents in the neighborhood have been opposed to the construction of the substation since Georgia Power purchased the property (for a significant premium over the market value at the time). While Georgia Power indicated they wanted to work with the community to integrate the substation in the fabric of the community and be a good neighbor in the community, this only extended as far as the community’s input on the exterior appearance of the substation wall.
As a community that has had its share of security issues in recent years, we are most disheartened by the fact that Georgia Power is actively choosing not to help make the Home Park neighborhood a safer place. On the contrary, the construction of a ‘dead’ structure in the heart of the neighborhood creates a security risk to those who live in the area and a target for future crime. Per the conversations that we had with Georgia Power representatives we expected that Georgia Power would provide at minimum an ongoing security and maintenance agreement (in the form of a Community Benefit Agreement with the neighborhood), but they now decline to do so.
The construction of the Atlantic Drive substation in the resurging Home Park neighborhood is unfortunate for everyone but Georgia Power.
Construction on the Atlantic Drive substation began in Fall 2012. The recently installed termination poles at the NE and NW corners of the property will allow for the overhead high-tension wire to 'dead end' and route underground into the substation. Next will begin work on the interior of the substation, which is scheduled to be completed in June, along with exterior improvements including streetscape, landscaping, etc.