AJC: Old landfill forced Atlanta United soccer team to flee DeKalb

Friday, November 20, 2015

AJC screen shot: Old landfill forces Atlanta United to flee DeKalb

Atlanta’s new Major League Soccer team recently announced it would not build a new training facility and headquarters in DeKalb County as planned, citing unexpected remediation costs for the proposed site.

Instead the team will build in Cobb County on the other side of town.

That prompted the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to look into the problems that led Atlanta United and owner Arthur Blank to move.

Reporter Mark Niesse found out the DeKalb site was a former landfill. He asked the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Susan Burns to review the geotechnical report on the site and explain how a landfill can cause problems for site redevelopment.

Outside engineers said decommissioned landfills are frequently re-purposed for other kinds of development.

“The top will continue to settle over time. That’s an issue for a soccer field, which has to remain perfectly level,” said Susan Burns, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “You don’t want any lawsuits if people break their legs or something playing soccer.”

It’s not unusual to study the site’s feasibility after a project is proposed, instead of before, said Marc Barter, a structural engineer who owns Barter and Associates in Mobile, Ala.

“If it works out, great. If not, now you have a study and you can look for other things for it,” Barter said.

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