Name: Wil Miller
Facebook: Wil Miller
- What is your relationship to Fort Mac? My relationship to Fort Mac is a little bit complicated. I moved here eight or nine years ago. When I heard the base was closing I was definitely interested because I live in the city [East Point] that backs right up to Ft. McPherson. So anything good that happens to Ft. McPherson is going to benefit my city. I’m sort of involved in my city’s economic and political growth, so it’s a natural fit for me to be participating in things that happen here. I have been a member of the Fort Mac Community Engagement Subcommittee for two years.
- What do you think about the redevelopment of Fort Mac? I think that it’s happening quicker than other redevelopments of closed bases. I think that any kind of positive development is going to elevate the economics of the south side. It’s not an ideal partnership that’s happened, but it’s a partnership that happened expediently. It’s going to drive growth in some way or another which is better than the opposite. I wish that it weren’t a closed off television and movie studio, but with that being said, it provided the money for the Ft. McPherson LRA to do what they needed to do.
- What excites you most about the redevelopment of Fort Mac? It’s really interesting to hear about the Fort Mac/Oakland City LCI and how the economic emphasis is being placed on the north end and the south end to drive growth towards the middle. I’m particularly interested in the growth on the south side because the south end butts up next to my city, and we would love to see our city redeveloped. I’m not against gentrification because I’m a numbers guy.
- What would you most like to see happen with the redevelopment of Fort Mac? I would like to see some usage of the historical quadrant of Ft. McPherson. I would like to see the reduction of food deserts on the south side, I would like to see urban gardens. I think the utilization of green space could be really beneficial to the city. Not only on the south side, but the city of Atlanta as well. We need a dog park. It’s the utilization of the green space and the historic space that I really want to see.
- How has your involvement helped to change your perspective of the project? It hasn’t changed all that much. I look at this through the prism of economic development. I’m a little bit less optimistic, now that a large chunk has gone to a particular entity that is closed off. That being said, I would say I’m optimistic about the other parts. It’s exciting to see the walls come down and see movement here on the base, which hasn’t happened in years. So overall I would say I’m cautiously optimistic.
- Anything else you would like to say about Fort Mac? As a member of the Community Engagement Subcommittee, I feel as though we’re not provided as much information in a timely manner as we could be. Our job is to take this information back to our communities, and I feel at times we’re hobbled because we don’t get information as quickly or in as timely of a manner as possible. I understand why that happens. That deals happen behind closed doors. But I feel as though we could be a better arm of our community if we were given more information. But overall I’m excited about the redevelopment of Fort McPherson. I think the local Redevelopment Authority is doing a very good job. And I’m excited about the growth.
- What has the response from the East Point community been? The way that I put it out is I take notes during our meetings, and I’ll just do a Facebook blast to the community of East Point and some of the larger East Point community pages. I get a lot of likes because the base sat empty for so long. People don’t know the nuances and the day-to-day, so overall what they’re seeing is positive growth moving forward and people like that. People in East Point want to see how this will benefit people in East Point. So much emphasis is placed on benefit to the city of Atlanta, which is great, but as a city in itself, the city of East Point is trying move forward and come of out of an economically challenged period and become comparable to the other cities around it.
- For those who are not as engaged as you are, is there anything you would encourage them to do? Anything you’d like for them to know? I would hope that people would get a chance to come out to the base to see what is happening now. I would hope that people have expectations, but not unrealistic expectations. I would hope that, and this a difficult one, that people would realize the fine line between business, government and community and how difficult it is to move forward quickly.