The Dunwoody City Council voted July 10 to seek bids to demolish the Brook Run theater, putting to rest the controversy of what to do with the shuttered building that has dogged the community for more than a year.
Councilmember Lynn Deutsch made the motion to seek bids for demolition. The vote was 6 to 1 with Mayor Denis Shortal casting the lone “no” vote.
“I’m not convinced the expenditure or the holding of city resources on this project is a good use of our limited resources … as it relates to our parks,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch said she thoroughly read the Brook Conservancy’s report on the theater and the Brook Run Conservancy’s 57-page report on the theater project, which recently became a community center project as the Conservancy sought to rebrand the proposed venture. She said she also carefully read the city’s recent Parks Survey.
“In our Park Survey, over and over again, the top three priorities are pretty similar and they are not a theater, not a community center, not senior center,” Deutsch said.
Putting the city’s parks master on hold for Brook Run Park and the community center didn’t seem fair, either, she said. “And I’m not sure that’s a challenge most citizens of Dunwoody want us to take,” she said.
Shortal worried that voting to demolish the theater building that could also serve as a community center would anger longtime community volunteers.
“We’re undermining a lot of citizens tonight, a lot of our rich talent,” he said.
Councilmember John Heneghan asked that the demolition bids include ways to save the stained glass windows located in the building’s chapel.
After the vote, Danny Ross, president of the Brook Run Conservancy, was noticeably upset by the vote.
“To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement,” he said. “They’re going to kill the community … the spirit of volunteerism.”
Former DeKalb CEO Liane Levetan, whose name is part of Brook Run Park, said the vote was a “tragedy” and said the building was a “last vestige of our history.”
Rick Callihan, a Dunwoody Homeowners Association board member, was pleased with the vote.
“I think it’s a victory for the children of Dunwoody,” he said. “This clears the way for sports fields to be built in Brook Run Park.”
A recent estimated cost to demolish the building came in at slightly more than $350,000.