It’s standing room only at the Martin Street Church of God.

The church sits in Summerhill less than a mile away from Turner Field. Tonight, residents from the neighborhoods all around the stadium have come to voice their concerns about its future.

Iyasin Efundele is one such resident, and she’s spirited. “I’m going to be 70 years old next year...I might not look it,” she says smiling.

She gestures widely, bracelets clanking as she speaks to the audience, which includes three members of the Fulton County Commission.

They’re hosting the event tonight they’re calling a “listening session,” because Fulton County partially owns Turner Field.

The City of Atlanta is the other owner. Together, both parties are currently looking for developers to do something with the stadium.

At the same time, Atlanta’s starting a study to look at what kind of development would actually help the area, but that study won’t be done until next year.

And many community members feel their voices will be lost in that process. So tonight, they’re speaking up.

“If this is your home, bring it on home,” Efundele says to applause.

But Efundele isn’t just raising her voice. She’s part of a group working to raise as many community voices as possible.


“We want to get out as much as possible to the people who live here, who raise families, who go to school here, who worship here. That’s why we’re doing a survey,” says Moki Macias.

She works with the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition, also known as the Coalition, a collection of neighborhood groups pushing for community input in the stadium redevelopment.

They’re hoping to gather that input with an online survey and have enlisted a small army of volunteers to go door to door with iPads to collect responses.

“We’re doing something that so far has not been done,” Macias says. “It hasn’t been done by the city, hasn't been done by the county--all the people that are making decisions ultimately about the sale of this public land.”

On a recent Friday night, those volunteers met in Summerhill to go over the survey process.

Iyasin Efundele sat with about ten others talking about basic field safety (go door to door in pairs) and what to do if someone doesn’t answer their door (leave them a flyer).

Macias says the Coalition hopes to gather 1,400 responses. Then, once they process the data, to share their findings with the public and the people tasked with deciding what happens to the stadium.

“If we can provide that information to the city and the county and the Recreation Authority, we know that they’re going to do the right thing and their going to take it into consideration,” Macias says.


Keisha Lance Bottoms is one of those decision makers. She heads the City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority, also known as just the Recreation Authority, which will have the final say on what happens to Turner Field.

“If that survey will give peace of mind to the community, then I think by all means they should conduct the survey,” she says.

Her office is quiet. Except for the view of left field out the window, it’s hard to tell it’s located in a baseball stadium.

Bottoms says that she can’t hear much here even on game days, but that she’s open to hearing to the results of the Coalition’s survey.

“I can’t say how much weight will be given to it,” she says. “But just as we have accepted comment cards, etcetera from the community, we will certainly accept that as well and take it into consideration for sure.”

Those results might be heard, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be listened to. Still, the Coalition and its members say they have to help the community speak up. To them, not doing so isn’t an option.


Back at the “listening session,” Iyasin Efundele continues her work, stopping people on the way out to ask them to take the survey. She’s adding voices to the chorus regardless of who’s listening.

“We’re letting them know that people in the community are looking out for themselves and they want some kind of input. That’s all we’re asking for,” she says.

The survey closes November 21, 2015. Until then, Efundele and the other Coalition volunteers will continue gathering responses and making sure that whatever happens to Turner Field doesn’t happen quietly.

This story also appears on Medium.

Tags: Turner Field; Summerhill: AFCRA; Atlanta; Atlanta Braves; Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition