The Dunwoody City Council is holding a special called meeting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5, to likely consider the Austin Elementary School/Dunwoody Senior Baseball League fields land swap with the DeKalb County School District.
The meeting on Wednesday will include an executive session to discuss real estate, according to the agenda.
Jerry Weiner, president of Dunwoody Senior Baseball, said he was told the council will be considering relocating the baseball league to Peachtree Middle School so that a new Austin Elementary School can be built in Dunwoody Park on the site of the current baseball fields.
He has said he and the league board oppose being moved to PCMS because of potential traffic and parking issues that would “close down our program.”
Councilmember John Heneghan wrote on his blog Oct. 1 about the meeting, acknowledging that while he could not say anything, the real estate deal is a “very open secret to some.”
The process for purchasing real estate includes a “letter of intent” with with the property owners followed by public notices and public hearings, Heneghan explained.
The council is expected to vote on a letter of intent with the DeKalb school district on Wednesday, Weiner said.
DeKalb School Board member Stan Jester of Dunwoody asked people this weekend on his Facebook page what they thought about moving Dunwoody Senior Baseball to PCMS.
Rick Callihan, blogger at Dunwoody Talk, also took up the issue over the weekend. State Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) urged Mayor Denis Shortal at his recent town hall to address publicly what the city intended to do about Austin Elementary.
Talk of this land swap between the DeKalb County School District and the city of Dunwoody has been ongoing for many months, but both sides have declined comment. Real estate matters are often discussed in executive session and kept private until a vote is ready to be made.
In May, the Brookhaven City Council approved an agreement with the DeKalb County Board of Education to purchase Skyland Park for $4.7 million for a new elementary school as part of the school district’s efforts to alleviate overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster. That sale was kept silent until the vote was made, angering at the time some residents living near the park.
The new Austin Elementary School, currently proposed to be a 900-student building, is expected to open in August 2018. The new school is being funded with taxes raised when voters approved a 2011 E-Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
In 2011, Dan Drake, director of planning and forecasting for the DeKalb County School System, said state guidelines could mean that Austin may not be rebuilt on its current site.
“There were really kind of three issues with that site. One is the size — 14 acres is what the state likes to see as a minimum,” Drake said at the time. “The second is the high tension power lines. And under the high tension power lines, there is a high pressure petroleum pipeline.”
Weiner said in April that Dunwoody Senior Baseball, the city and school board representatives had their first meeting Feb. 18 and have been in ongoing conversations since then.
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. The league has been at Dunwoody Park for 40 years.