By Joe Earle
joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

Consultant Whit Alexander sketches a change at Brook Run Park as Hilbert Margol, left, Doris Williams, center, and Donna Hardesty, right, watch.

Donna Hardesty and a group of her neighbors in Dunwoody’s Lakeview Oaks community had a message to deliver. The dog park in Brook Run Park was in the wrong place, they said. Dogs escaped the fence around the park and bounded into their yards.

“We love dogs. We all have dogs,” Hardesty told the group of fellow Dunwoody residents who gathered Dec.11 to consider the future of Brook Run Park. “But we don’t want unleashed dogs running through areas where they might get injured.”

Hardesty and others from her neighborhood apparently made their point. By the end of the three-hour session, the 45 or so Dunwoody residents who took part in the meeting had re-imagined the park. In drawing up their new plans, they moved the dog park to a different part of Brook Run, an area they felt was more appropriate.

But that was only one of many proposals the residents and planners put on paper during the gathering at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

Their proposals included, among other things, a great lawn, a band shell for concerts, a flower garden, a fountain, walking trails, athletic practice fields, a restaurant, a community center and a relocated community garden and dog park.

“It’s a good start of the discussion,” said Dunwoody City Councilman John Heneghan, who attended the session to watch and listen to the discussions. “I think some good ideas were formed.”

Hardesty, too, felt the morning discussion produced worthwhile results. “We had a really wonderful exchange of ideas,” she said. “I think with the amount of space we have, there are wonderful things that can come with this area.”

Consultants working on a new Brook Run design for the city ran the session. They drew sketches showing which parts of the 102-acre park residents suggested be developed for new uses. They plan to study the ideas and perhaps incorporate them in their own plans for a new park design. The consultants’ report is due in February.

The city took over the park from DeKalb County, which had developed its own plan for development for the area. But city officials said that plan would be too expensive to build and maintain. Besides, they said, the county’s plan was for a regional park, not a city-centered one.

Resident Renata Herod felt the same way. “The main thing I’d like to see is it kept at the city level, not county-wide, since it is a city park,” she said.

Also, restrictions were placed on the development of the park in the legal papers transferring the land to the city, said consultant Chris Camp. Seventy percent of the land must remain green space, Camp said. Ball fields and open lawns used for public events could count as green space, he said.

Residents, divided into two discussion groups, laid out a long list of proposals for the property. Someone suggested a mini-golf course near the existing skate park. Someone else proposed building a lake.

“At some point, we’re going to have to come to grips with the fact you can’t do everything,” said Joy Vannerson, president of the Dunwoody Nature Center.