The Dunwoody City Council agreed to postpone approving a city parks master plan at its May 23 meeting, citing a need to smooth out several details.
The decision followed public comments and lengthy discussion of 13 questions about the parks plan prepared by City Manager Warren Hutmacher.
“We’re close, but we need to punt that ball once more,” said Mayor Ken Wright.
The council was able to reach agreement not to build baseball fields at Brook Run Park.
At a previous council meeting, residents spoke out against the plan, pointing out the many old trees that would have to be cut down to build three baseball fields in the park. The issue also divided the council, with several members opposed to the plan.
“We decided among ourselves we could take the ball fields out and put in big, open playable fields,” said City Councilman John Heneghan.
Among other topics discussed by the council was whether Brook Run Park should be designated as a passive park.
Council members disagreed on defining the uses of the park.
“I’m scared it will be used to play politics at a later date,” said Councilman Doug Thompson.
Council members went back and forth on what defines a “passive park.”
Councilwoman Adrian Bonser defined a passive park as a facility that is not used for organized sporting events. “Piedmont Park is considered a passive park,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t move and be active, that all you can do is sit and eat a picnic.”
Some council members felt that defining Brook Run as a passive park would be too limiting.
“Brook Run is supposed to be a community park,” Heneghan said. “I’m not sure we shouldn’t have some kids’ soccer leagues. We’re locking ourselves out of opportunities for recreation.”
Councilman Danny Ross said it’s important to define what type of park Brook Run should be for future generations.
“What I don’t want is for this thing to morph into something where because we’ve got green space out there … we transform it into Murphey Candler Park. That’s not what it was meant to be. This is not a rec center, folks,” Ross said.
Councilman Denis Shortal recommended breaking the park down into a mix of active and passive uses.
“Let’s put a percentage on it so we’ve got general guidelines,” he said.
The council also discussed the merits of retaining the dormitory building at Brook Run Park. Some council members argued that while the building had potential uses, it took up valuable space that is needed for tennis, volleyball and basketball courts.
“If there a valid park use for it, I’d be all for keeping it,” Thompson said. “I’m not sure there’s a demonstrated need for, ‘Well, we might need it later on.’”
Ross said the dormitory building would be a good space for a business incubator that could be run in conjunction with Georgia Perimeter College.
Shortal said he didn’t think it would be wise to remove any viable building from the city’s portfolio.
“We’re talking about destroying a $6 million building, folks,” Shortal said. “Don’t be in such a hurry to ball and chain it.”