In addition to electing three City Council members and a mayor, Dunwoody voters probably will cast ballots on alcohol sales and on a bond to raise money for parks.
Allowing alcohol sales for a thirsty Dunwoody is a no-brainer. It will pass with at least an 80 percent margin. Come 2012, we’ll be permitted to purchase beer and wine from our favorite shops. No more dimming of the lights in the local beer aisle once a week.
Also on the ballot likely will be a “yes” or “no” vote on a bond for the city to borrow as much as $50 million for parks. At a recent City Council meeting, the details of the plan were discussed.
Before getting into details of what’s in this proposed parks plan, I think it’s more important to discuss what’s not in the plan. What the plan is missing is funds to purchase more park space.
Although it means less money for sidewalks and road resurfacing, I was glad to see the city purchase a 16-acre piece of land in the Georgetown area. As they say in real estate, ‘there’s no more being made’ rings true in Dunwoody. There are a few other pieces of property, some empty, some occupied (perhaps in receivership), that the city should consider purchasing.
I think the council should consider using 20 percent of funds from a bond for land acquisition. If the city is intent on a $50 million bond, $10 million should be for land acquisition.
To get a bond referendum on the November ballot, city staff needs to act quickly. When the parks design plan began, the 16 acres was not in inventory. Now that we own it, what will be built there? I highly doubt the entire 16 acres will be used as a park, but instead perhaps the site will be home to eight or 10 acres of recreation with the balance being sold to a developer for retail use.
There are key amenities left out of the current parks plan. Tennis courts were the number one requested sports item (for youth and adults) from the public input survey conducted by the city, followed by soccer fields. Neither tennis nor soccer is included in the latest plans for Brook Run Park. The fastest growing sport in the country, lacrosse (Dunwoody now has a girls and boys varsity team) is not included.
It would be nice for a couple of multi-purpose fields constructed at Brook Run. Depending on the season, a multi-purpose field can be used for soccer, lacrosse or rugby. It would be great if the city staff and council can find a way to include these sports at the newly acquired space or at Brook Run. This would surely increase the chances of a bond passing.
And finally, the biggest item not present in the parks plan is the greenway path winding under the Georgia Power Co. power lines (and through private property).
This idea was doomed from Day One. Many property owners were alerted to a trail through their backyard not by city planners, but by the media. Had the city staff met one-on-one with homeowners along sections of the greenway, perhaps offering a specific dollar amount for land, the plan, or perhaps sections of it, maybe it would have had a chance.
Instead of spending $5 million on the 16-acre PVC farm, what if property owners along the planned route were offered $30,000 each in exchange for giving up some of their land? We’ll never know as the greenway is now, rightfully, but a piece of non-existent history. If the greenway trail issue resurfaces, city staff should attempt to build it in sections.
The parks plan, like the city’s other master plans, is a work in progress. Be sure to let your council know your thoughts on what you want in regards to parks and future land acquisitions.
View Rick Callihan’s Dunwoody Talk blog at www.dunwoodytalk.blogspot.com.