Cobb pledges hearings, updates on Braves project

Atlanta Braves will move from Turner Field to a new stadium in Cobb County in 2017.

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Braves will move from Turner Field to a new stadium in Cobb County in 2017.

Cobb County political leaders, who last year kept secret for months their negotiations to build the Atlanta Braves a new stadium in the Cumberland area, on Friday released a plan to keep the public informed about the construction, expenses and effects of building the $672 million ballpark over the next three years.

The plan promises two public hearings a year and quarterly updates to the commission from various county departments such as finance, public safety, transportation, economic development and the project manager. It was put together by county spokesman Robert Quigley with input from outside groups such as Common Cause Georgia.

The plan promises several disclosures in coming months:

  • A summary of major tasks and milestones, by March.
  • County financial and economic projections with supporting details, by April.
  • A list of planned transportation improvements, estimated project costs and anticipated completion dates, by July.
  • An overview of public safety plans for staffing, equipment and training, by September.
  • "Verifiable" performance measurements for county revenues, expenses, economic and job impacts.

Under a header of “Key Messages,” the five-page document says: “Cobb County … is committed to transparency. We are accountable for our actions, confident in our projections and believe this project will be successful.”

Terry Taylor, a Common Cause board member who lives in Cobb, requested the plan during a December commission meeting. He called the finished document a “positive step,” but he said the depth and accuracy of information about economic impacts, jobs created, expenses and revenues will determine if the plan succeeds at keeping the public well-informed.

“This is a good framework,” Taylor said. “The next step will be making it real by having details behind the numbers. We’ll be looking for that level of detail … (so) that a reasonable person will know where (the numbers are) coming from.”

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee said the county’s goal will be to “over-communicate.”

“This is a plan so everyone can know what to expect,” Lee said.

In a separate development Friday, the county announced that a public hearing — related to new taxes and fees that will be imposed to help pay for the county’s $300 million share of the stadium — will not be rescheduled after it was postponed because of Tuesday’s snowstorm.

Two other public hearings are scheduled Feb. 11 and Feb. 25, when the commission will take public comment on a new rental car tax; a new per night, per room hotel fee; and a new tax on businesses and apartment complexes in the Cumberland Community Improvement District.