Dunwoody’s $7.8 million renovations to Brook Run Park are on track to meet a March 21 grand opening. But the mayor says that should be delayed so the popular Lemonade Days festival does not ruin the new great lawn or is forced to be staged on parking lots.
Lemonade Days, which organizers said attracts more the 80,000 people a year to Brook Run Park, traditionally sets up dozens of carnival rides and food vendors in the central area of the park in what has been known as the fairway. That area is now known as the great lawn where an amphitheater with terraced seating is under construction. Open fields are also part of the newly renovated area and new Bermuda grass is set to be planted in early February to be ready for the grand opening. But Mayor Lynn Deutsch and other City Council members questioned if the new grass would be rooted enough to withstand heavy foot traffic from Lemonade Day attendees.
“This is a consequence of us not being on schedule, but I don’t want to rush for a March 21 opening,” Deutsch told Eric Johnson, president of Comprehensive Program Services, at the City Council’s Jan. 27 meeting. CPS is the project manager for Brook Run Park’s master plan.
“We have to be really careful. We’ve got to come up with a plan B or maybe a plan C. It worries me about that new sod a lot,” she said.
Suzanne Huff, executive director of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust that sponsors the annual Lemonade Days, said the organization is in constant contact with the city on how the park’s renovations could impact the festival. A walk-through with city officials was planned for early February to make a final determination of where the festival would be located, she said.
“For the last couple of years, Lemonade Days has been held in the area called the great lawn,” Huff said. “But for several years we did hold it at the front of park, closer to North Peachtree Road, which gave us greater visibility. We’re not concerned and wherever the city wants us to be, we will be there.”
Heavy rains have contributed to the construction being slowed, including original plans to plant the grass last summer, Johnson said. But Johnson said most of the park’s new amenities would be substantially finished by March 2 to be ready for the public unveiling. That timeline appears to be rushing the project, Deutsch said.
“It’s not too late to change the grand opening,” she said. “I would rather delay the opening than find ourselves in a big mess … because we rushed for Lemonade Days. It’s important to not destroy that work.”
Deutsch asked city staff to work with CPS to make sure “we are not rushing things.”
City Manager Eric Linton said he wanted CPS and the contractor, Reeves Young, to continue with its “marching orders” to finish by the deadline as the city works to find a solution for Lemonade Days. He said there is a “comfort zone” of time that can be built in if needed.
The city’s project to add athletic fields, a large pavilion, an amphitheater, a great lawn and other new amenities to Brook Run Park was approved last year with the ambitious goal of being completed by this spring.
Johnson told the City Council a new large pavilion and concession stand would be completed by Feb. 14. The artificial turf for both athletic fields is scheduled to be installed by Feb. 28, he said.