Flanked by police, city officials, business and community leaders, Atlanta's District 2 City Councilman Kwanza Hall unveiled a seven-prong strategy Thursday that he said will give the Old Fourth Ward's Boulevard corridor the attention it deserves and the catalyst for a much-needed revitalization.
The seven parts of the plan of the "Year of Boulevard" drew cheers from those in attendance at the Fourth Ward Alliance Neighborhood Association Thursday night.
One component, however — allowing the Atlanta Police Department to use an apartment in the Bedford-Pines housing complex as an arrestee booking and processing center — drew the ire of one heckler.
Bedford-Pines, a 700-unit complex of federally subsidized Section 8 apartments, has been criticized as being the source of many of the problems plaguing Boulevard.
But T. Gene Lockard, who is Southeast regional vice president for Wingate Management Co., which operates Bedford-Pines, said the company has consistently made efforts to be a good neighbor in the Old Fourth Ward.
For example, he said the company spends some $300,000 year hiring off-duty police officers to supplement patrols.
Wingate's participation in Hall's Boulevard effort underscores the company's commitment to being a community partner, he said.
In an earlier interview, Hall said the revitalization strategy is part public safety, with the aim of reducing crime and part opportunity, the goal being to find ways to give teens with something constructive to do.
To that end, the plan he laid out includes:
- An Atlanta Police Department mini-precinct within the Atlanta Medical Center that will be home to the dozen officers who are exclusively dedicated to Boulevard
- Wingate's management donating an apartment within the complex that will serve as a processing and booking center for people who are arrested
- Wingate's cash contribution to the 4th Ward Security Patrol, the neighborhood watch group
- Atlanta Workforce Development Agency and Mt. Zion Baptist Church hosting a series of job fairs for youth
- Installing garbage cans along the Boulevard corridor
- The city's parks and recreation department creating a summer jobs program targeting kids who specifically live in Bedford-Pines
- Neighborhood beautification and trash clean-up events and code enforcement