Mayor Denis Shortal gave Dunwoody’s 8th annual “State of the City” address March 9, stressing that his administration is about ensuring a high quality of life for its residents and also abiding by the creed that “we are one Dunwoody.”
“We are inclusive, we are welcoming, we are a group of people … with very diverse backgrounds,” Shortal told the crowd gathered at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia Hotel. “But yet we are one Dunwoody.”
The event is presented by the city and the Rotary Club of Dunwoody and includes a reception with free heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar with dozens of tables for sponsored by local businesses and community organizations as well as seats for the general public.
Shortal, delivering his second State of the City speech, said the city of Dunwoody “cannot live in a vacuum” and praised the relationships the city has with the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners as well as neighboring cities of Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Chamblee.
“I’m encouraged by the expertise and knowledge of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners,” he said.
Shortal also noted the Peachtree Gateway Partnership formed by Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville and how the cities are currently working on ensuring multi-use trails connect up to each other when crossing over city borders.
One project Shortal said he hopes the city can complete one day is to run a multi-use trail from North Shallowford Road under I-285 to connect to Brookhaven’s Peachtree Creek Greenway project that will eventually connect to the PATH400 Greenway Trail and then to the Atlanta Beltline.
The crowd applauded at Shortal’s mention of this idea. The concept is in its infancy, however, and nothing concrete has been developed, according to city officials.
Shortal also mentioned the Winters Chapel Peachtree Industrial Boulevard study, “a study being conducted of the area to help establish a community-based vision and action plan to guide future investment in and improvement of the area,” according to the city. The project is expected to begin in mid-2017.
Shortal praised the city’s veterans and noted that last year the city became a Purple Heart City. He thanked the city’s first responders — the Dunwoody Police Department and the DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department. He also thanked the numerous nonprofit and community organizations in the city as well as the clergy members.
“All these groups make our city a better Dunwoody,” he said.
He noted there are 87 residents sitting on city boards and commission, including four Dunwoody High School students, who volunteer their time to serve the city.
The city’s Parks Master Plan including community input should be finalized by the end of this year, Shortal said, and the city is moving forward on beginning construction of two new baseball fields at Peachtree Charter Middle School.
An independent schools district bill sponsored by state Rep. Tom Taylor of Dunwoody did not gain traction this year in the General Assembly. The city will continue to pursue searching for ways to enhance the city’s schools, Shortal said.
“Our school children are our purpose,” he said.
Shortal, who campaigned for mayor on promising more paving, said just over 11 miles of roads are set to be paved in 2017 and slightly more than 36 miles are planned to paved over the next five years. Since 2009, when the city was incorporated, the city has paved 52.2 miles or road, Shortal said. In 2016, more than 30 miles of roadway was paved, he added.
Shortal also said the purchase of a new City Hall was a significant milestone in the city’s history, calling it a wise investment with an ideal location on Ashford-Dunwoody Road between the booming business community of Perimeter Center and the calm of residential neighborhoods.
“This is a place we can call our own,” he said.
The city also has a new logo, created by three Dunwoody residents who volunteered their time, and Shortal thanked them for providing the service. He also said it would be wise for the city to tap residents from the city who have expertise in certain areas to volunteer their time on certain projects rather than paying consultants. The design team was made up of Jay Kapp, president and CEO of Kapp Concepts; Mike Martin, chief creative officer for Jackson Spalding; and Heyward Wescott, president and CEO of Custom Signs Today.
“There is a lot of talent in our city,” said Shortal. “These professionals donated their time because they cared about their city.”
In wrapping up his speech, Shortal also stressed his firm belief that Dunwoody is a family.
“We’re about community, we’re about family,” he said. “This is our Dunwoody.”
As part of the event, Megan Weiland of the city’s Sustainability Committee presented Dunwoody High School student Jack Warshal with the Sustainable Hero Award for starting a recycling program at the high school.
Before Shortal spoke, Tina Philpot, president of the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, welcomed everyone. The Dunwoody High School Air Force JROTC presented the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Cadet Elia Zarate. The DHS Choral Ensemble sang the National Anthem.