Here’s what’s next for the future Atlanta public safety training center
The city council voted Tuesday morning to approve funding.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - In an 11-4 vote, the Atlanta City Council approved funding early Tuesday for the Atlanta public safety training center despite vocal opposition and nearly 14 hours of public comment.
More than 300 people showed up to speak on the project during the public comment period. The final say came down just before 5:30 a.m. with councilmembers Jason Dozier, Liliana Bakhtiari, Antonio Lewis and Keisha Waites voting against passage of the final funding-related legislation needed to begin development.
The controversial site, coined by critics as “Cop City,” has drawn heavy criticism since the 2021 announcement of a plan to transform the forested land into a law enforcement training space.
Despite public outcry, the city council gave the $90-million project the green light, sealing funding for the training center, which is expected to cost Atlanta taxpayers as much as $67 million.
City officials say nearly half of the taxpayer cost is a reallocation of funding from current spending on leasing various buildings across town as training sites.
What happens next?
Construction of the 85-acre site is set to begin in mid-August with the city planning a soft opening date of December 20, 2024. The facility will sit on a city-owned forest in DeKalb County. The area was previously home to an old Atlanta prison farm.
A lease-back agreement worth $1.2 million a year for 30 years will ensure the city of Atlanta remains the owner of the property. After the 30-year period, the city would own the facility outright.
Once opened, Atlanta Police Foundation says firefighters and first responders will use the site as a mock city for real-world training and emergency vehicle operations, among other things.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, a strong supporter of the training center, said the space would also facilitate recruitment and preparation of fire-rescue, police, and emergency medical personnel.
Following Tuesday’s vote approving funding for the center, Dickens released the following statement:
Protests are expected to continue as development of the site pushes forward.
On Wednesday, opponents of the training facility announced plans to force a referendum that would allow Atlanta voters to decide whether construction of the center should proceed. In order to get on the November ballot, organizers will need to collect at least 70,330 signatures over a period of 60 days.
Atlanta News First previously spoke with Atlanta Police Chief Darn Schierbaum who said APD is preparing for continued demonstrations and disruptions and will have officers staged at the site through its development.
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