Box 8, Folder 17, Document 3

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November 28, 1969 OFFICE OF ae PROGRAM

673 Capito! Avenue, S.W.
Atlanta, Ga. 30315
(404) §77-5200

Ivan Allen Jr., Mayor
J.C. Johnson, Director


TO: Mayor Ivan Allen Mr. Lester Persells
Mayor Elect Sam Massell Mr. Henry Bowden |
Executive Board Members Mr. James Pilcher
Mr. Jack Delius Mr. Horace Ward
Mr. Dan Sweat Mr. Thomas Choyce
Mr. Collier Gladin

FROM: Johnny C. Johnson

. Executive Director or~

SUBJECT : Land Acquisition by the Southern Railroad in Pittsburgh
(See attached map)


Qn November 10, 1969, the Model Cities Program first became aware

of plans of the Southern Railroad to expand their existing storage

yard in the Pittsburgh-Mechanicsville Area. This move affects only

the Pittsburgh community where acquisition of 15.2 acres of land
is presently in progress; Southern is currently attempting to
negotiate the acquisition of 2.8 acres of Pittman Park belonging
to the City of Atlanta and part of the 15.2 acre site. Their
reuse proposal calls for retention of 11.5 acres to be used for
expansion of their existing yard facilities, while the remaining
3.7 acres would be returned to the city for park use. The rail-
road proposes to finance the cost of constructing the new park,
including the replacement of a gymnasium, swimming pool, and
tennis courts, all of which would be included in the initial 2.8

acre park acquisition.


This plan raises many issues and questions all of which will have

to be answered in the forthcoming weeks. [It is the express purpose
of thismemo to prepare a proper foundation for this period by
stating, as accurately as possible, the events that preceded and
followed our initial discovery of Southern's plan on November 10,
and the issues that I believe have been raised as a result. I

nave also made some recommendations regarding the course of action

we should take.

Agents for Southern Railroad. The firm of Greene, Buckley, DeRinex
& Jones, located in the National Bank of Georgia Building is acting
as their legal agent; John David Jones and C. Richard McQueen have
been involved in past discussions. Land acguisition is being
handled by Adams-Cates Realty located in the Hurt Building: Henry

Robinson is actively involved in this aspect of the plan.

Existing and Proposed Land Use. Composition of the 15.2 acres of

acauisition is as follows:
Park . . ‘ acres
Business... acres
Housing. é acres
Streets . Sr an sk acres

Total 15.2 acres

After acquisition the land will be used for:

Park .


= fs

Residential Relocation. The number of buildings and dwelling units
to be acquired:
Buildings Units*
Single Family . ‘ : 63 63

Two Family . . 10 20
Multiple Family ; ‘ 2 16


75 03

The number of dwelling units is not an accurate
indication of the number of families presently _
occupying them; overcrowding may increase this
Public Notification of Southern's Plans
These agencies initially became aware of Southern's acquisition
and expansion plan on the dates indicated:
Parks Department October 30
Housing Authority November 5
Planning Department November 6

Model Cities Program Staff November 10

Model Cities
Board of Directors November 17

Model Cities
Executive Board November 18

Chronology of Events (1969)

August-September Acquisition of residential property

began sometime during this period.

Southern's agents H. Robinson and
Cc. R. McQueen met with Alderman
Charles Leftwich, Jack Delius, and

Stan Martin to discuss the railroad's

plan. The Parks Department was asked

November 5

November 6


to determine the feasibility of a new
park design that would exclude 2.8 acres
of the existing Pittman Park, but include
the additional 3.7 acres the railroad was

willing to swap for the excluded portion.

Southern's land agents met with the Atlanta
Housing Authority to determine the type of
relocation assistance available to occupants
of homes within the acquisition area.
Because of the unique nature of this request-
a railroad acquiring property under the
power of eminent domain in an urban renewal
area within the Model Cities Program-—the
Authority asked the regional office of the
Renewal Assistance Administration (RRA)

for an opinion. RRA tentatively determined

that no financial assistance was available

under existing regulations and contacted

their home office in Washington, D. Cc. for

further determination.

Planning Department became aware of
Southern's plan for the Pittman Park
acquisition only. At this time the Depart-
ment arranged a meeting for Monday, Novem-
ber 10, at the Parks Department Conference

Room and requested Model Cities repre-

November 10

November 17

sentatives to attend.

Model Cities became aware of Southern's
plans for the entire yard expansion at a
meeting in the offices of the Parks Depart~
ment. (See memo of November 11, 1969 -
Exhibit No. 1). In addition to the
information in the November 11 memo,
Southern's agents expressed a Cinta desire
to acquire all the property in the shortest
time possible and also suggested that
Alderman Leftwich, Chairman of the Parks
Committee, gave tentative approval to swap
park land for railroad land. In addition,
they urged all in attendance to keep their
plan as secret or quiet as possible. The
reason for this insistance was, according
to them, to prevent the appreciation of

land values within their acquisition area.

Legal agents of Southern Railroad, J. D.
Jones and C. R. McQueen met with J. C.
Johnson, Jim Wright, and Lou Orosz, of the
Model Cities Program in their offices. The
meeting was arranged by Stan Martin of the
Parks Department. This represented the
first direct attempt of Southern to involve
the Model Cities Program in its plans.

Discussion initially centered about the

Pittman Park situation but expanded to

the relocation and involvement of Pitts-
burgh residents. Mr. Jones reiterated

the Railroad's position as expressed one
week earlier on November 10; the acquisition
of land, including a portion of Pittman Park,
must be completed as soon as possible; the
relocation of people was not a railroad
problem; the railroad would pay the fair
market value for all property acquired; and
that any attempts to invelve residents and
other public agencieswas umesirable because
it would slow down the acquisition process.
The Railroad clearly wanted the property

acquired and facilities constructed without


Model Cities maintained an opposite position:
resident involvement in all phases of com-
munity development is the core of the Model
Cities Program and must be maintained. The
formulation of plans affecting residents of
the Model Cities Area, without their involve~
ment, ig contrary to guidelines set up by

the Department of Housing and Urban Develop-
ment. (HUD) Suggestions were also made that
would get the Railroad involved in formula-

ting and financing a portion of the cost of

November 17

i Poe

relocating people from the proposed acquisi-
tion area into new housing within the Model
Cities Area. It was additionally recommended
that this would be an excellent opportunity
for Southern to become involved in the develop-
ment of the Pittsburgh community by devising
ways that would assist in impeding the further
deterioration of residential structures in the
immediate vicinity of the railroad. (Since
the railroad is responsible for this deteri-
eration by creating an undesirable residential
neighborhood to live in, they should bear the
responsibility, rather than the public at
large, for preventing this deterioration.)

Mr. Jones said he would convey this portion

to officials of the railroad.

Mr. J. C. Johnson presented Southern's plan

te the Model Cities Board of Directors. (See

minutes - Exhibit No. 2). The Board denounced
the plans and attitude of the railroad,
particularly the secretive manner by which

it planned and executed its program, and
additionally, their total disregard for in-
volving residents and the Program staff.
Finally the Board passed a resolution urging
the Model Cities Executive Board to request

the Southern Railroad to cease buying

November 18

November 193


1. Resident Involvement.


properties until their actual intentions

are known.

Model Cities Executive Board met and

listened to a presentation of Southern's

plan by Jim Wright. (See newspaper article -
Exhibit No. 3). They resolved to ask
Southern to delay its program until the

full impact of their plan on Pittsburgh and

the Model Cities Program Plan was known.

A tentative legal opinion regarding the
utilization of eninent domain in making the
Pittman Park acquisition was received by

J. €. Johnson from the Atlanta Department
of Law. (See letter ef November 17, 1969 -
Exhibit No. 4). The opinion said in effect,
that the City's ownership and use of Pitt-
man Park was a superior governmental use
which could not be acquired by the railroad

through its eminent domain power.

Lack of any attempt to solicit the involve-

ment of residents in the planning phase of this development. This

represents a flagrant violation of the requirements and intentions

of the Model Cities Program as expressed by Congress, the Department

of Housing and Urban Development, and the City of Atlanta. If this

is allowed to continue it will result in destruction of the trust

residents now have for the program as a means for improving


their own neighborhoods. There can be no exceptions for ex-

cluding resident involvement.

Acquisition of a Portion of Pittman Park. The Model Cities
Plan identifies the Park as presently being below standards
set up by the Program and by the City of Atlanta in its
Parks and Recreation Plan. This deficiency is in terms of
acres, and in facilities by which people can enjoy the park
such as baseball diamonds, recreation center, ete. The Plan
also anticipated acquiring the entire Foy Brick Company in
later stages of the Program; the use, of course, would have
been a park addition. The reason for not proposing the
acquisition of adjacent residential property for eventual

park use was because the Pittsburgh community, in several

meetings, was against such a move. The relatively good

structural conditions of these homes and the preservation
of social ties between neighbors was more important to these


The railroad, on the other hand, has not considered these

facts. After acquisition, which includes 30 dwelling units

to be removed expressly for park expansion and the Foy

Brick Company, park acreage will increase about one acre.

This is one more acre than the park now contains, meaning

that it will continue to be substandard. But more important,

it means that any plan to bring it up to standards by increasing
its acreage in the future will mean that additional homes will

have to be acquired.


Consequently, the Railroad has everything to gain and the
Pittsburgh community has everything to lose—-its people,
its homes, and the anticipation of enjoying a larger park

in the future.

Disregard for the Future Development of Pittsburgh. The

Southern Railroad has completely disregarded existing plans
for Pittsburgh. This includes the City's 1983 Land Use

Plan, the City's Parks and Recreation Plan, and Model Cities
Program Plans for the area. These plans represent a sub-
stantial number of hours on the part of the agencies involved
and the residents affected. The cost of preparing these
documents which reflects, in this case, the desires and
aspirations of Model Cities residents is not a light

consideration. It cannot be disregarded.

The Railroad claims its acquisition of homes to provide itself
with more yard facilities is justified for two reasons. First,
that the space is needed to accommodate the output of General
Motors; the intention is that more business (if this is
actually the case) will benefit the city as a whole in the
long run. This kind of thinking—egotistical, one-sided,
narrow minded, and with the dollar in mind as the ultimate
objective—is responsible for destroying central city neigh-
borhoods throughout the country. It is one of the reasons

why Congress has found the need for a Medel] Cities Program.

And naturally it is completely epposite the short run,

coordinated, and comprehensive approach of this Program


towards improving the life of people Living in the area and

participating in the Program.

I think that this reasoning is invalid within the boundaries
of this Program. The short run time period is unquestionably
more critical to Pittsburgh residents than it is to the
questionable long run needs of the City, the Southern Railroad,

and General Motors—in this instance.

On the second reason, Southern believes it is cdoing a service

to the City by removing substandard structures in the path of

its proposed yard facilities. If the structures are sub-

standard to the degree Southern claims, (and this is questionable),
then it is because of their nearness to the railroad. Who wants
to live near a railroad yard? The people who can afford to

live on this residentially marginal land have extreme difficulty
in maintaining their homes because of their low income and the
high cost of materials and labor used in home repairs. (Because
the homes are marginal doesn't mean the people are marginal

or undesirable).

It can be predicted with reasonable certainty that once the

yard is constructed as presently planned, the adjacent buildings
will deteriorate over the years. In a similar manner to the
present situation, Southern is laying the groundwork for another
claim when the need for additional yard facilities arises, that

they are doing a service to the City by removing them.


Resident Relocation. The Model Cities Program has continually

maintained that residents will be given the opportunity to
remain in their neighborhood in the event they had to be
relocated. With opportunity there must be choice. The lack
of standard dwelling units within the area has placed this
burden of providing choice on the provision of temporary
housing units. Occupancy of temporary units would be until
such time as permanent structures were built. This method
represents the foundation of the Model Cities Relocation Plan
and without it there will be no public relocation of families

to provide land for any facility.

Furthermore, financial assistance from the Model Cities Program
and the Neighborhood Development Program (NDP) will make the
difficulties of moving easier for all people who must be relocated.
This includes tenants and homeowners. The former receive moving
expenses and the latter receive moving expenses and up to $5,000
in differential peyments: they are paid the difference in cost
{$5,000 maximum) from the price received for their acquired

property and the cost of buying a similar sized home.

The approximately 100 families to be relocated by Southern's
acguisition will receive none of this assistance. The use

of eminent domain, or the threat of it, will not benefit these
relocatees. They will not be eligible for temporary housing
because none is available at this time. And they will not
receive moving expenses and differential payments since they

are not part of the NDP or part of an acquisition by a public

ap See
agency working with the Model Cities Program,

Again, the people do not benefit and actually become the recipients

of inequitable treatment as a result of Southern's non-participa-

tion in the Model Cities Program.

Acquiring Pittman Park by the Power of Eminent Domain. Can
Southern Railroad-——a public utility-—exercise its delegated power
of eminent domain in the acquisition of 2.8 acres of Pittman
Park? The question is important because its answer may determine
the success or failure of Southern'’s venture. If the answer is
"ves", then there is probably nothing constructive that Pittsburgh
residents can do to prevent the plans's completion. If “no",

then it may be possible to negotiate with the railroad on the

issues already raised.

A tentative finding from the City Attorney's office indicates
the railroad does not have the power in this case. (See Exhibit

No. 4).

Conclusions and Recommendations

It is clearly evident that the Southern Railroad is determined to
fulfill its plans in the most expedient manner. The secrecy at
which they acquired property and the concealment of information
regarding their intentions until the last possible moment leaves
considerable doubt in my mind as to what public they represent.
It is obviously not the 45,000 residents of Model Cities or the

8,000 in Pittsburgh.

As with representation, the question of beneficiaries is raised.
Who benefits directly from expansion of the existing facilities?
Obviously the management and stockholders of Southern Railroad
and General Motors enjoy the fruits of this particular venture.
The Pittsburgh community suffers for this plan will be to their


This negative effect is the very sought of situation Congress had

in mind when it enacted Model Cities legislation in 1966. The

objective of which was to substantially improve the environment

in slum and blighted areas of cities. Here we have a good example
of how not to improve the environment; the placement of a railroad
yard in a residential neighborhood is unequivocally contrary to
every known principle of environmental health and safety, and social
stability. Southern's arguments of business need and city service
do not justify the predictable destruction of a neighborhood. Do
these reasons take priority over the objectives of the Model Cities

Program? Do they justify Southern's disregard for involving residents

and public agencies who diligently worked to establish plans


for creating a better place to live in? Do they justify side
stepping a host of social, economic, and physical problems— and
creating more in the process-—that this Program is committed to
solving? Maybe these questions point to the real reason

for Southern's secretive approach!

But the plans are now public and we find ourselves with a set of
facts—and a challenge: Reversing the historical process. Make.
the railroad aware of the problems it is creating, and ask them
to join us in finding an acceptable solution, for them and for

the residents of Pittsburgh.

This approach must be through negotiation. The prerequisite of
which is resident involvement. The range to negotiating is
between no expansion of yard facilities, to expansion of the
facilities with an improvement to the surrounding area. These

improvements would consist of high quality buffering between

the yards and residential property; a park that is up to city

standards in terms of land and facilities; an underpass at
McDaniel Street; an adequate relocation pregram for the people
to be displaced including the opportunity to remain in this area;
and an adequately designed street system to serve the unusual

pattern that would result if the yard were built.

This endeavor would have to be highly coordinated and thoroughly
managed. Resident involvement must be solicited and channeled

into the direction that would insure maximum impact on negotiations.


Public relations must be mobilized and prepared for the confronta-
tions that will occur. An image of a united front will have to be
maintained in order to increase the chances of receiving the most
benefits from negotiation. In short, this approach must he

thoroughly planned and managed.

As a first step, I would recommend a halt to the railroad's
acguisition program. This may be voluntary or be an injunction
which should be initiated by a resident committee—possibly one
set up to cope with the railroad problem—an adhoc group.
Simultaneously, support from other public agencies must be
solicited. The Parks Department and Planning Department,

and perhaps others, must agree in principle at least, to prevent
the railread from invalidating their plans for the area. (After
all, that's what they maintain when we present plans different

from theirs).

In summary, we must (1) determine what position and action the

Program will take; (2) appoint a coordinator; (3) solicit resident
approval for intervention; and finally, (4) insure support from

appropriate public agencies.

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