Dunwoody Senior Baseball is opposed to being forced to move to Peachtree Middle School as part of a proposal to make way for the rebuilding of Austin Elementary School in Dunwoody Park.
Jerry Weiner, president of DSB, said that league’s board plans to meet Sunday, April 24, to “define its opposition” to the City Council and DeKalb County School Board’s proposal to move the league to Peachtree Middle School.
“We can’t move to a location that will potentially close down our program,” Weiner said.
Rumors have been floating for several months that the baseball league for 13-18-year-old players would be moved to make way for the DeKalb School District to build a new Austin Elementary School.
Weiner said DSB, the city and school board representatives had their first meeting Feb. 18 and have been in ongoing conversations since then. Nothing has been finalized but Weiner said he and his board are not happy with the current proposal.
The DeKalb School District estimates cost for new fields would run about $3 million, Weiner said, and would likely have to be paid for by the city and DeKalb County. He said he’s been told the city is resistant to paying any of the $3 million cost.
“The school board first has to approve $3 million be spent for baseball fields and I’ve been told the city is not going to do it if it takes any city money,” he said.
DSB, a nonprofit, is located next to the Dunwoody Nature Center on approximately 7.8 acres in Dunwoody Park – with parking the league has about 10 acres. The approximate size of the Peachtree Middle School fields is 6.7 acres, Weiner said. Parking is also further away at the school site.
The city owns Dunwoody Park and DSB does not pay any fees to the city to use the fields. Maintenance of the fields are shared by DSB and the city, Weiner said.
Also, at Peachtree Middle School, carpool pickups begin at 3:55 p.m. and traffic is often backed up. DSB games often begin at 5 p.m. with teams showing up around 4 p.m.
“There will be contention for access,” Weiner said. “How are we even going to get in?”
During the recent Lemonade Days at Brook Run Park, traffic was backed up on North Peachtree Road and the default overflow parking lot is at Peachtree Middle School. That was also the weekend for the DSB middle school playoffs and had the league been located at Peachtree Middle School, the conflict between the two events would have been a major ordeal, Weiner said.
“We don’t have the flexibility to change our schedules,” he said. “It’s just not going to work. There are too many logistical issues.”
When DeKalb School Supt. Stephen Green announced at a Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting in December that Austin Elementary will be rebuilt on Roberts Drive and be open by fall 2018, Weiner said he and others were surprised.
“We went, ‘Huh?’” he said.
The league is not opposed to moving, Weiner said. But the current proposal to move to Peachtree Middle School is not good enough for one of the top leagues in the nation with more than 600 players in its middle school league alone, he added.
In 2011, voters approved an Educations Special Local Option Sales Tax that included funding for a new Austin Elementary School.
Weiner said, though, that at that time the school district promised not to take land from the city’s parks for the new school.
“We are not opposed to quality education but we don’t think they should build the school at Dunwoody Park,” he said. “We want them to honor their original promise.”
Quinn Hudson, spokesperson for the DeKalb School District, declined to comment.
“We cannot comment on real estate matters and any discussions we are having with potential parties,” he said.
The city of Dunwoody did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But City Councilmember John Heneghan took to Twitter to offer a sort of response.
Sad – Dunwoody can not discuss (defend) executive session items, even if it is the best interest of entire community https://t.co/521KiAd2vu
— John Heneghan (@dunwoodynorth) April 22, 2016