The construction of two multiuse fields and a renovated Great Lawn are on the agenda for the first phase of improvements to Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park. But will city leaders have the money to do everything they hope?
That’s the question facing the mayor and City Council after being presented three concept designs for the first phase of the park’s renovations with cost estimates ranging from $9.3 million to $6.5 million to $5 million.
The city’s approximate budget for the first phase is currently $5.1 million. Subtract consultants and other fees and that leaves the total at actually about $4.3 million, according to Whit Alexander with Lose and Associates.
Lose and Associates was hired by the city for $324,000 to come up with design options for the park to include the addition of two multiuse fields at the back of the park, a renovated Great Lawn area as well as the addition of more parking and restrooms.
Alexander presented the three concept designs, dubbed the Current Master Plan ($7 million price tag), the Reduced Master Plan ($5 million) and the Expanded Master Plan ($9.3 million), to the mayor and City Council at their May 21 meeting.
Driving the different cost estimates are the proposed renovations to the Great Lawn, Alexander said.
The Expanded Plan envisions an amphitheater-like setting in the Great Lawn with a large band shell and stage with storage behind the stage, terraced seating, some paved paths, and vehicular access for a truck to drive equipment to the stage. Covered pavilions and larger restrooms are also included in this plan.
Alexander said the concept for this plan would be ideal for concerts and is similar to the Suwanee Town Center Amphitheater.
The other two plans significantly cut back on the sizes of the band shell and eliminate paved areas and terraced seating to reduce costs significantly.
Councilmember Jim Riticher said the council had a fundamental decision about the fields and Great Lawn: “Either decide not to build everything now or come up with a big pot of money.”
“Maybe we should consider not building one of them now,” he said.
In the multiuse area of the park, the differences in cost can be changed by putting in smaller restrooms and pavilions, a smaller concession stand and smaller playgrounds, Alexander explained.
Councilmember Tom Lambert threw his full support behind the Expanded Plan and addressed concerns by all council members about tree preservation by suggesting not building as much parking. Plans call for adding some 40 spaces near the new multiuse fields.
“That’s a golden opportunity to save trees,” he said. “I hate to personify the Joni Mitchell song [“Big Yellow Taxi”] about paving paradise to put up a parking lot.”
Even with the addition of parking there won’t be enough for people who want to use the park, Lambert added, and the city could be better off financially by investing in a shuttle system to get people to and from the park.
“I know there are concerns about the budget … but we want to do something we are proud of 10 to 15 years from now and not by taking the cheap way,” Lambert said. “This is a gift to the citizens that live here. We’re about community … this provides us the chance to do that.”
Mayor Denis Shortal and Councilmember Terry Nall said the plans may call for picking and choosing what they want and can afford from the separate plans to create a new overall design plan. Alexander explained that was an option.
“The budget is always a consideration,” Shortal said. He added he thought more parking would be necessary and that it was important to consider the city’s senior citizens when creating community spaces.
“I’m more in line with the master plan cost. It’s not a cheap plan but it is also more affordable,” Shortal said.
Community input is still being gathered on the concept plans. Visit dunwoodyga.gov for more information.