Dunwoody resident Davis Hightower is all for parks and green spaces. Just not the kind that would run through his backyard.
He’s not alone, by a long shot. More than 100 people showed up to a recent city meeting that unveiled a plan to revamp parks in Dunwoody.
A majority attended to protest a portion of that plan that calls for miles of greenways – a system of urban, paved trails that would link to numerous parks in the city.
Hightower, 36, who has lived in his home near Happy Hollow Road for four years, doesn’t see it.
“I don’t think it’s an improvement over what we already have,” he said. “It’s not going to improve our quality of life to have people biking through our backyard.”
Hightower helped organize neighbors who also live along an east-to-west Georgia Power Co. easement in the northern part of the city. The power-line easement is envisioned as the backbone of the city’s urban trails system that would run several miles.
But there are a lot of unknowns, Hightower said. For instance, Georgia Power’s easement restricts what can be planted underneath power lines. How can the city landscape and shield the trail from people’s property, he asked.
“The thing is nobody really knows how it’s going to work,” he said. “Georgia Power is back here and you can’t put big trees in here to shade and screen a trail.”
City officials also see problems with the city gaining access to so much private property for a trail system. City Manager Warren Hutmacher said at a recent city retreat that getting big rights-of-way along parts of the greenway couldn’t be accomplished if “you’re handing out $100 bills.”
The greenway routes are one component of an expansive plan that’s been constructed by the city’s consultant and the input of city residents.
As part of the plan, there could be expansions and renovations of the Donaldson Bannister House, Dunwoody Nature Center, Perimeter Center Park, Windwood Hollow Park and the city’s largest park, Brook Run.
The vision for Brook Run Park is radically different from what’s there now – more than 100 acres of mostly undeveloped park land with a variety of old medical buildings spread across it.
The park could become a combination of both active and a passive park elements, including everything from new baseball diamonds and a football field to an expanded dog park, as well as a great lawn and a special events area.
The plan outlines improvements much beyond the skate park and playground that are currently there. To add to the offering for small children, a “splash pad” would be near the playground equipment.
The plan calls for two small-dog parks and a large-dog park to replace one existing one. The dog areas would be relocated to the interior of the park.
Meanwhile, the plan calls for 4 baseball diamonds. One of those diamonds would be just north of Peachtree Middle School, which would also include a soccer field and a football field surrounded by a loop for track and field events. The half-acre community garden would be located near the dog parks.
Bill and Margaret Beer live at Village Oak, near Brook Run Park. They came to the meeting to speak up about moving the dog park. Bill Beer, a fit older man, said he walks near the dog park as often as he can.
“We don’t understand moving it,” he said. “It’s already where it is. It would be less cost effective to build a whole new park.”