Designs for multipurpose fields, a band shell and more parking, restrooms and pavilions at Brook Run Park got the go ahead by Dunwoody City Council, but how to pay for an estimated $7.5 million price tag remains to be seen.
“Get out your wallets,” Mayor Denis Shortal said after he and the council voted unanimously to move forward with the phase one designs presented by consultants at the July 23 council meeting.
The proposed design plans from Lose and Associates that were approved show costs for construction of two multiuse fields with artificial turf at $3.2 million; the Great Lawn area including a band shell and terraced seating as well as a pavilion and restrooms at $1.7 million; a new parking and picnic area adjacent to the Great Lawn at $800,000; a new park entrance at $56,000; an open play field also adjacent to the Great Lawn at $37,000; and a disc golf course at $30,000.
While the construction budget comes in at about $5.9 million, there is $1.6 million in other fees, such as contingency fees and construction manager fees, bringing the total to the estimated $7.5 million.
No budget has yet been finalized. The council will take another vote before any money is spent.
The city still has approximately $2.8 million in the bank from its 2015 parks bond settlement with DeKalb County. But that is not enough.
“Where do we find additional dollars?” Councilmember Terry Nall asked before suggesting perhaps some of the hotel-motel tax the city is now receiving could go toward construction of the band shell.
The city raised its hotel-motel tax from 5 percent to 8 percent to primarily build trails and parks in Perimeter Center at the request of hotel owners in the area. The city began collecting the new funds in January.
City officials say the higher tax would bring in an estimated $850,000 a year to the city and another $850,000 to the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CVB is required by state law to use its new revenue stream to promote tourism in the city.
The city also voted last year to dedicate 15 percent of the new hotel-motel tax money to a Tourism Facility Fund after representatives from the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and Dunwoody Nature Center argued their facilities already bring in tourist dollars and they should be eligible for some of the new revenue.
The hotel-motel tax money is required by state law to be spent to bring tourism to the city. Nall said in an email to city staff that “Given the nebulous definition of ‘tourism’ for the hotel/motel tax, the Great Lawn with its band shell and concerts expected, might well qualify for that 15 percent portion.”
The city hopes to complete all the construction of the proposed projects in one year. City Manager Eric Linton said if everything can get approved by the council and bids for the projects are sent out by the end of the year, a groundbreaking could come as soon as March and the work could be finished in 2020.
Lemonade Days, a large festival at Brook Run Park, is held each April, and there were some concerns from the City Council about construction taking place at the same time. Linton said it would not be a problem to work around the fest.
At the council meeting, members also asked for several tweaks to the design plans. Concerns about the band shell being located on the west side of the Great Lawn and people having to look into the sun for concerts was discussed.
The west site was selected to ensure the least amount of tree loss, explained Eric Johnson of Comprehensive Program Services and Brook Run Park project manager. He noted that trees behind the band shell may also block some of the sun.
Moving the band shell to the east side or even a bit north of its current site will result in more tree loss, he added.
Shortal said that Sandy Springs has a stage where concert-goers also look into the sun and their concerts are always packed.
Finding shade from the sun for soccer players and other athletes using the multiuse fields was also debated. Councilmember Tom Lambert said there should be larger pavilions and shaded areas near the fields so people can get out of the hot sun.
He said the new baseball fields adjacent to Brook Run Park don’t have any shading. People are often forced to sit along the walking trail in the park and under trees for shade, he said.
“Players need a place to get out of sun and to me it is worth investment … for safety purposes to go a little bit bigger,” he said.
Some of the details under discussion include:
Multiuse fields: 155 parking spaces; a pavilion with eight restrooms, four for men and four for women; several retaining walls; and underground stormwater storage.
Great Lawn: A band shell with some sidewalks for accessibility for people with disabilities and equipment transportation; eight restrooms, four for men and four for women; 123 parking spaces, reduced from 160 to save more trees; a total of 12 restrooms, with eight in the band shell and four in a pavilion.