City Councilman Robert Wittenstein says golf carts should have a place in transportation planning, particularly for the Perimeter district. “It’s an area that’s just a little bit too big to be walkable,” he says.

You might think that golf carts are too slow to drive around the streets of Dunwoody. Not so fast, says Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein.

Wittenstein said he regularly uses his golf cart to rumble to the grocery store or take a leisurely ride on the weekend down to Brook Run Park to tend to the community garden.

His electric cart is street legal with a license plate and everything, Wittenstein said.

“It’s actually designed to be ridden on the road. It’s got headlights, tail-lights and everything,” he said.

Wittenstein spoke up recently about linking golf carts to Dunwoody’s future, especially in the Perimeter Center area.

If lanes could be dedicated to bikes and golf carts, people would have alternatives to congested roadways, where lined-up automobiles often go slower than Wittenstein’s 25-mile-per–hour golf cart.

“Its best application is in the PCIDs,” he said. “It’s an area that’s just a little bit too big to be walkable.”

Wittenstein’s idea is to make the Dunwoody and Sandy Springs communities less reliant on cars. The area could be linked by pedestrian paths, contain more pocket parks, and, generally begin to be more walkable for residents.

It’s part of a long-term vision of the Livable Centers Initiative presented to a group of about 40 Dunwoody residents at a recent meeting led by consultants and members of the Perimeter Center Community Improvement Districts.

The idea for the January meeting was to engage Dunwoody residents on what they like about their community and what they would like to see changed over the next decade or two.

Wittenstein also suggested a loop transit service around the business district, which straddles both Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.

“A loop service within the PCID – have you guys looked at that?” he asked.

The answer is yes, said Donna Mahaffey, spokeswoman for the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts.

The districts, which raise millions from businesses inside the district’s boundaries, are studying the issue and looking for a way to link a large business and retail district that spans miles.

The transit system would be integrated into a larger vision of creating green spaces, picnic areas, benches and pocket parks along with multipurpose trails.

At the meeting, residents were asked to air their concerns about the Dunwoody community as a whole.

Several people brought up crime, especially in the Perimeter Mall area. Traffic also drew complaints. Signal timing could be improved in the Ashford Dunwoody and Hammond Drive corridors, and lanes could be added at bottleneck points where three lanes can narrow to one, residents said.

The business and residential growth outlook is mixed for the next several years, said Rick Padgett, a senior partner with Huntley Partners.

Residential development is expected to improve slightly in 2011 and then increase in 2012 and 2013. Retail business and office occupancy have continued to decline in 2010.

With office complexes competing with Dunwoody in Buckhead and Roswell, the city has shown it can hold its ground, Padgett said.