By Joe Earle
Some wanted more swimming pools. Others favored new baseball fields. One resident suggested that Dunwoody build a putt-putt course.
Lisa Macy just wanted more trails she could hike.
“You can’t go far enough in Dunwoody,” she said. “You go a mile, which is just fine when your kids are younger, but I don’t want to walk the same loop 20 times.”
Consultants hired to draw up a master plan for Dunwoody’s parks spent much of two days recently chatting with residents about what they wanted in their city parks. In open houses held Nov. 10 at Dunwoody City Hall and Nov. 11 at Dunwoody Baptist Church, the consultants heard a lot of differing – even, at times contradictory — opinions.
Regan Maeroff Cox, who identified herself as a life-long Dunwoody resident, said she attended the meetings to make sure the city’s plan protected green space.
“I would like to see not only the nature be preserved, but I would like to see some of the concrete given back to nature,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of concrete jungle in Dunwoody that could be given back to nature.”
Wendy Gibbons, however, thought the city needed better aquatics facilities. Dunwoody’s swimmers, she said, “need a place to continue high-quality skilled instruction in the off-season.”
And if an aquatics facility were part of a multi-use athletics facility, “that would be phenomenal,” she said.
Others said the community needed more and better baseball and softball fields, or a large open lawn when groups could gather, or an amphitheater where musicians could perform.
Consultant Chris Camp of Lose and Associates told the several dozen residents who attended the meetings that Dunwoody now is well below national standards in the acreage of its parks. National parks groups recommend that a city have about 10.5 acres of parkland per thousand residents, he said. Dunwoody now owns only about an acre of parkland per thousand residents, he said. That means Dunwoody should buy up to 465 more acres of parkland to add to the 160 or so it now owns.
More than 100 acres of the parkland the city owns is contained in Brook Run Park. But Camp told residents that not all of that land is available to be developed for playgrounds, ball fields or other active uses. Restrictions that came with the property mean that only 30 to 40 acres of it can be developed, he said.
Camp said he and the other consultants were hired to prepare a 10-year plan that would recommend how Dunwoody can expand and better use its parkland. The consultants will include recommendations on how much the city should spend on parkland, how the city parks department should be organized and how the city could best use its recreation facilities.
Brent Walker, city parks and recreation manager, said the consultants are to prepare a preliminary draft of a master parks plan by the end of February. The city is paying $100,000 for the plan, he said.