City Councilmen John Heneghan, left, and Doug Thompson talk to residents during the May 29 Citizens Connection meeting in Dunwoody's District 3.
City Councilmen John Heneghan, left, and Doug Thompson talk to residents during the May 29 Citizens Connection meeting in Dunwoody’s District 3.

Dunwoody residents taking part in a May 29 discussion of city projects questioned a proposal to allow a private company to install a “tree-top obstacle course” in Brook Run Park.

Dennis Crean said the city officials should take a new look at the master plan for Brook Run before deciding where Treetop Quest should be allowed to install the course.

Crean said installing the course without careful study of its effect on the park and surrounding areas recalled the decision to create a dog park in Brook Run. The location of the dog park, made by county officials before Dunwoody became a city, now has stirred controversy as city officials have tried to relocate the facility within Brook Run.

“I guess I’m saying, ‘cart before the horse …,’” Crean told city officials attending the Citizen Connection meeting at the Dunwoody North Driving Club on May 29. “It sounds almost like the dog park all over again.”

Others among the more than 30 residents and city officials who attended the meeting questioned whether the attraction would bring groups of outsiders into the community.

Treetop Quest, which operates a similar facility in Gwinnett, has asked to install a similar attraction in Brook Run. The company, the American branch of a company that operates similar facilities in France, has offered to pay Dunwoody 5 percent of the facility’s revenues or $25,000 for use of the Brook Run trees.

“I’ve been asked, ‘Are you doing this for the money?’” Councilman Denny Shortal said. “No. That’s a byproduct of it.”

The proposed obstacle course features a series of platforms installed around trees that are connected by zip lines, bridges, swings and rope ladders. Treetop Quest wants to set up the course in trees near Peeler Road. Company officials say they will carry $4 million in liability insurance on the facility, Dunwoody Parks Director Brent Walker told the council during its May 27 meeting.

Several city officials visited the Gwinnett facility recently and have said they were impressed by the operation. Mayor Mike Davis said the Gwinnett course was surprisingly quiet, given that 80 to 100 teens and pre-teens were using it when he was there. “The kids are concentrating so much [on the course], there’s no squealing if you’re up in the canopy,” he said.

“Whatever we do [in Brook Run] should be first and foremost for the citizens of Dunwoody,” Crean said. “If we can’t support it, we shouldn’t have it in our one and only [large] park. Why doesn’t Brookhaven do it down in Murphey Candler [Park]? … They have tons of parks.”

City Councilman John Heneghan and Doug Thompson hosted the May 29 discussion in Dunwoody’s District 3, where the two councilmen live. Similar meetings are planned for later this year in Districts 1 and 2.

“Will people come from outside? Sure,” Thompson said. “Will they come for Food Truck Thursdays or the dog park? They will. … We have this parkland and I rarely see anyone use this part of the park. I’m a use guy. I think our parks ought to be used by our citizens.”

Heneghan said he didn’t want Dunwoody to shut itself off from outsiders. “I hope we’re not going to become an isolationist community, where we don’t share,” he said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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