People attending the final of six city-sponsored workshops on Dunwoody’s future expressed concerns about preserving the city’s historic charm, dealing with traffic and adding bicycle lanes to city streets.
Carla and Ralph Masecar, who have lived in Dunwoody 50 years, shared their concerns about the city’s plans for multi-use trails.
The Masecars said they “definitely” don’t ride bicycles and wouldn’t use the trail planned to connect Brook Run Park to new parks in the Georgetown area of the city. They worry that the planned pathway could make the area more accessible to criminals.
“There’s a lot of crime developing in Dunwoody,” Carla Masecar said, recalling recent news about a man breaking into a Georgetown Kroger grocery store and stealing wine. The trail would make it easier for people like him to getaway, she said.
But Marty Johnson, another of the 15 or so people attending the June 30 gathering, said he has recently started biking more and wants to make better use of the trail system at Brook Run Park, where he said he only visits during Lemonade Days.
Though he doesn’t play golf, Johnson said he would buy a golf cart if Dunwoody allowed him to drive it around town.
“I’m jealous of Peachtree City, where they can drive golf carts to Publix,” Johnson said. “They have special cart paths for them.”
Jacobs Engineering Project Manager Jim Summerbell said nothing is final yet for the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan update. Those who want to comment will be able to do so before the mayor and City Council adopt the plan in October, Summerbell said.
Transportation issues generated the most comments at the June 30 workshop.
The Masecars said they were interested in the improvements around I-285 and Ga. 400 and whether Cotillion Drive would be made into a one-way street. “That’s what we always understood they were going to do,” Ralph Masecar said.
One of the only new projects to be added is a new exit ramp on I-285 just before Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Novsam said. The exit would help alleviate traffic and provide better direct access to shopping, he said.
The final plan will have three main sections including a vision and goals section, a future land use map and character area map that will discuss the “feel” of residential neighborhoods, Summerbell said.
Most of the residents at the final workshop, attended three or more of the previous sessions.
Melanie Williams, who said during an April workshop she and her husband, Jim, wanted to preserve Dunwoody’s historic charm, said she was eager to see the final written draft report due out July 17. “We’re anxious to see what their results show,” she said.
Johnson said the final workshop was the first he attended. “I got tired of hearing about it in the newspapers and thought I’d come out to see what was going on,” he said.
Though he said he didn’t have any pet peeves, he said he prefers almost anything to the four-way stops at busy intersections in Dunwoody. “Put a cop there to direct traffic at rush hour or a red light or a roundabout—something, because you pull up and nobody knows what to do,” Johnson said. “You stop, start, stop, start. I hate it.”
Cheryl Summers, who lives on Tilly Mill Road and has been active in fighting bike lanes along her street, said she attended all six workshops. The first thing that caught her eye was the transportation plan board, which showed a dotted red line for a “proposed bike lane” on Tilly Mill Road.
Jason Novsam, a transportation planner with Jacobs Engineering, offered explanations for the changes from the 2011 plan. Bike lanes are categorized on the 2011 plan as either a “bike facility” or a “bike route.”
“A bike facility is an actual delineated bike lane, not necessarily protected, but striped and painted,” Novsam said. He added that a bike route means prioritizing making the road safer for cyclists by expanding the shoulder or painting a bicycle symbol on the road.
Tilly Mill Road shows a purple line for a bike route on the 2011 plan. Summers asked Novsam whose decision it was to change anything from that transportation plan. She added that transportation was never brought up at the previous workshops.
“I’ve been coming to all the Shape Dunwoody meetings and this is the first time this was proposed,” Summers said. “I think it’s a back door attempt by city staffers to get this into the Comprehensive Master Plan.”
The concept of aging in place and provisions for a senior center remain important to Summers, she said. Summerbell said Jacobs Engineering has researched a great deal to try to define “senior housing.’ Policies related to universal design to support aging in place is one of the key recommendations for the five-year update.
Summers said she said she was “ahead of the game” when she bought her home because she purposefully picked a place without stairs.
Other key recommendations gathered from the public’s input over the last four months include updating the vision statement and goals, including a character area map. Inclusion of a future land use map and focus on economic development priorities were also included as key recommendations.
“We’ve heard a lot about bike lanes,” Summerbell said, assuring listeners that nothing is set yet.